Universitas Gadjah Mada’s Faculty of Animal Science is currently researching the use of bio mulch in sandy land at Congot beach, Jangkaran Village, Temon, Kulonprogo as an alternative to plastic mulch in cultivation process. The particular bio mulch is a residual hay/feed that is no longer consumed by cattle, or in the Javanese language called rapen.
Bambang Suwignyo, S.Pt., M.P, Ph.D., lecturer of the Cattle Nutrition and Food division, Faculty of Animal Science, said the research conducted is one activity under bigger research program in the development of pastures in the sandy land. Since 2005, he has pioneered the use of sandy land for forage and pastures development for cattle feed. "Farmers in the sandy lands usually use plastic mulch for the process of farming in sandy land that is dry with high evaporation rate. However, the price of plastic mulch is considered burdensome for farmers because it is relatively expensive and less environmentally friendly, so many farmers have raised complaints," said Bambang Suwignyo in the Faculty, Wednesday (25/1).
The complaints are even more when farmers have to put up with the increase in fertilizer prices, not to mention that farmers have to bear the burden of purchasing plastic mulch that reached hundreds of thousands rupiah. "It certainly became an important issue that has to be addressed. If there is an alternative to plastic mulch, farmers would certainly welcome it. If there is a cheaper alternative, they would use it," said Bambang.
As an alternative, with other lecturers at the Laboratory of Livestock Forage and Pastures who manage the course of Integrated Agricultural Systems, Bambang Suwignyo eventually offered the option of using straw to replace plastic mulch. Through the research, he hoped straw can serve as an example for the students as the implementation of integrated farming concept.
This bio-mulch is described as having double functions in the process. When it has not been decomposed yet, the bio mulch serves as mulch in the true meaning and after being decomposed, it serves as fertilizer for the soil. With the research conducted for 2.5 months on 300 m2 sandy land area - assisted by two students - bio-mulch can replace the function of the plastic mulch. "The minimal prediction has no real difference, the use of plastic mulch and bio mulch has the same result though currently the research has only reached data analysis," he explained.
Bambang hoped the results of this study provide a scientific record of the actual practice done by our farmers’ ancestors. "Yes, I hope the real application-based research can be useful not only for the enrichment of science but also beneficial to farmers," he expressed his hope.