Agricultural netting as a guard for plants against birds, insects and weather
With the advancement of agricultural methods and techniques, the high cost and complicated agri-business has turned now into smart and convenient farming. Agricultural netting is one of such techniques. Netting not only protects plants and crops from birds’ assault, insects and adverse weather conditions, but also upsurge the crops production yields. Netting in farms and gardens results in minimum damage or loss of the plants and their fruits. The amount invested for this will turn into high profits, when the crops will be ripped and ready to sale or utilize. It is seen that the expenses which are incurred on agricultural netting are mostly recovered when the first season of crop cultivation is over.
Available types of agricultural netting
Netting is available in different types and characteristics. Wide range of nets are offered nowadays which are diversified as per material, dimensions, shapes, thread, fiber, size, cost and weight. One of the types of netting is ‘insect proof netting’, which does not allow pests to reach the plant and protect its fruit from fungal or bacterial infections. These nets produce opaque shading influence with low absorbency and penetrability, which reduces the negative solar effects on the plants. These nets are eco-friendly and concerned with human health as well. Most of the times, this netting is of transparent or white color. While other sort of nets used for agricultural protection are of different green shades. The net turns its color from green to yellow with the life span of crops and turns completely yellow when the fruits are ripped.
Another type of netting is ‘orchard netting’ or ‘hail netting’ in which high density net is used to protect plants from hailing, heavy rains and other adverse weather conditions. Soil cloth netting is widely used, not only for plants’ safeguard but to make pathways suitable and safe from weeds, plants thorns and spines. Wind break netting is installed at a distance from the crops as this sort of netting breaks the pressure and strength of winds and protects crops from collapse and damages. UV polythene netting is also used which is made up of high density threads. This sort of netting is of high quality and widely produced in Europe. It is low in cost and has long life. ‘English Flat Woven Netting’ is made up of stiff material and dual fiber. It is produced with flat looms. This type of netting is rigid and strong, and commonly used in vineyards. Most of the netting available and used nowadays is long-lasting, defensive from ultra-violet rays and waterproof. Mostly the apparent net has small squared holes of less than an inch size which makes hurdle for a bird’s beak or insect to reach the plant.
When the applied netting turns over age, additives are applied to overcome any changes that are caused due to depreciation in addition to wear and tear of the netting material. These additives act as stabilizers and are usually produced from grains with a mixture of HDPE compound.
Plant Training as an alternate
Apart from netting, plant training is also practiced by cultivators commonly. Particularly in the production of cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, this phenomenon is common. Branches of a plant are pruned to keep them straight and at fixed positions to achieve desired shape and height. This pruning allows grower to choose that how many branches of a plant will be fertilized for fruit production. Plant training also includes plant trellising, which provides crops with better air stream and sunlight to increase their production ability. A plant which is trellised effectively will be able to produce more tasteful and large fruits. Hortomallas trellising of plants saves time as compared to that which is spent in installation of agricultural netting and assures even high yields than netting. Trellised and trained plants are less exposed to diseases and infections, thus it also saves the cost incurred by growers for sterilizing and disinfecting plants with agrochemicals.
Another purpose for which agricultural netting is widely used is pigeon control. Small birds cause great loss to the plants, especially when they are producing fruits. High wired crops are safe from damages caused by birds. Hence pigeon control can be considered as a byproduct of agricultural netting.
Installation of agricultural netting
Netting support erections made up of wood, steel or cement material are installed at the base or foundation of crops. In case of hail netting, the net is placed inclined over the base structure making a slope of longitudinal fiber threads or wires, which slips and throws down the hails. Growers install these structures to make the plants grow firmly and to avoid any collapse especially when they are loaded with mature fruits. In farms and gardens usually the net is tied with unbreakable cables approximately 30-35 meters high, which is the normal maximum height of trees. In case of greenhouse production, thermal sheets are also installed along with netting to produce more shading and decrease negative effects of thermal energy. Beautifying and decorating of netting is an optional activity, which is done specifically by home gardeners. Netting is adorned by beads, garlands, ribbons and spare ornamentation stuff at home.
Benefits of applying agricultural netting
- Protection from insects, birds and small animals like rabbits, squirrel and rats.
- Protection from bad weather conditions, such as strong winds, heavy rain and hailing.
- Increase the productivity of fertilized crops.
- Aid to the life and assure good health of plants.
- Human health friendly as it protects crops against various bacterial and fungal diseases.
- Minimize the negative impacts of solar radiations, particularly in greenhouses.
The above discussion concludes that agricultural netting is mandatory for farming. Growers should choose the best and most appropriate sort of netting for their farms or gardens. The right choice of netting is done in consideration with many important factors, such as netting material, characteristics, design, size and cost.