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Improved rainwater harvesting system promising
Date:12/13/2011

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIARidge and furrow rainwater-harvesting (RFRH) systems with mulches were first researched in the flat, lowland, semiarid conditions of northwest China to improve water availability and to increase crop production. In RFRH systems, plastic-covered ridges serve as rainwater harvesting zones, and bare or mulched furrows serve as planting zones. The systems are becoming increasingly recognized and are being promoted in many parts of the world as a means to improve large-scale production operations.

Although the RFRH system improves water availability and increases yield, it has many deficiencies that prevent its practical application, including relatively high soil compaction, high soil erosion, and issues with fertilizer leaching, especially in heavy rainfall. Another system, called "ridge-furrow-ridge rainwater harvesting", or RFRRH, was first studied in flat, lowland humid regions of central Europe. In the RFRRH system, polyethylene mulch covers two ridges (planting zones) and the furrow between them, which serves as the rainwater-harvesting zone. The RFRRH system with mulches manages plant cultivationeven under impermeable mulchwithout using an irrigation system.

In a new study published in HortScience, Borut Gosar and Dea Baričevič from the Department of Agronomy at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) tested the RFRRH system in a field study using purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea Moench). Gosar explained that purple coneflower was chosen because of its importance in Slovenia; the natural immunostimulant is widely cultivated for use in pharmaceutical preparations that are sold to domestic and international markets.

The study was conducted to determine the effect of the RFRRH system with or without a covering of two different types of polyethylene (PE) mulches and with or without supplemental irrigation on soil water content, crop yield, and time needed for weed control. Results showed tha
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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