Smart and Protective

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.

Agricultural netting
In addition to protecting the crops of birds, the agricultural network also protects them from insects and weather.

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. 

Agricultural raffia placed on plants
The agricultural network has different types in the market and the price varies depending on the material of the network.

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.  

Raffia tied in support branch
The pressure network is a good option since it reduces the pressure and the force that the winds cause towards crops.

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.

Cane nailed to the ground and raffia
The agricultural network also works to train plants such as cucumber, tomato, eggplant and pepper plants.

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.  

Raffia tied to branch covered by plants
The agricultural network can work with the greenhouses where thermal sheets and the network are needed to shade the crops.

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. 
Roll of agricultural raffia
The advantages of using the agricultural network are that it helps protect crops from birds, insects in addition to protecting them from weather conditions.

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. 

The fall in usage of Agricultural raffia twine

Unfavorable effects of Agricultural raffia twine

Growing plants, fruits, vegetables or grains, need a lot of care and support. Either it’s about home gardening or large scale agricultural farming, plants demand proper maintenance and provisions. Agricultural raffia twine was one of such maintenance system that was used for supporting fruits loaded branches of plants. Raffia is actually an artificial raw material used in textile industry. It is extracted from polymers and looks like threads. In the light of various evidences, it is worth noting that raffia twine was not actually agricultural raffia twine. This means that the purpose of this product was not to serve in agricultural or farming usage. In fact it can cause real damage to the plants, particularly when they are in fruits’ maturity time. Decades ago, there was ample use of agricultural raffia twine by agronomists because it was cheap, light weighted, robust and easily available. With the passage of time, its preference became obsolete and its usage started to decrease rapidly.

Agricultural Raffia Twine
The disadvantage of raffia is that it can damage plants.

Six major contributors to the fall of agricultural raffia twine

There were a number of reasons that made agricultural raffia twine unwanted and proven to be detrimental. Some of these negative points are discussed here:

  1. It was fungus adapter. Pestilences of fungal bacteria were commonly observed among threads. These micro-organisms used to stick in twine grooves and produce toxic germs.
  2. As the agricultural raffia twine becomes infected, there were high chances of transferring such infections to the agricultural products.
  3. The complex structure of raffia applied in plants, needed to be reconstructed again and again, as the size of plants increased with its growth. Great time and labor were spent for these reconstructions. Thus the growers had to bear high labor costs.
  4. If a part of netting is cracked, it is not repairable, rather whole net needed to be replaced.
  5. Due to its complicated maintenance, either it is replacing a net or modifying its structural design, there was always a threat to the health and life of the plants.
  6. Despite of employing man power and spending a lot of time on building agricultural raffia twine’s structure, the netting could not be used for the second season, but is wasted at the end of cultivation.
 Agricultural raffia installed in crops
The raffia has a very complex structure that every time the plants grow it has to be built more than once.

Replacement of agricultural raffia twine

Despite of these negative aspects, agricultural raffia twine was used for a very long period of time in agriculture sector. The raffia twine was itself economical and easily adaptable. With its usage, particularly vertical farming was improved. Plants were more open to the sunlight and ventilation, which enhanced their health. It was available in different types and versions. Commonly used types were offered with three or four stands made up of polyester material top. The netting of raffia twine was usually made up of regular fiber threads, sisal webs and twisted nylon threads. Afterwards a number of stake products were launched in market and these products were good substitutes of traditional raffia twine. These products saved the cultivating cost of farmers and also increased their production efficiency.

Agricultural raffia attached to stakes
The advantages of raffia yarn are that it is easy to use and gives space to plants and improves their health.

One of such agricultural support product is ‘plastic mesh’. They are a sort of plug and play farming device. These plastic meshes are installed quickly in gardens, farms and crops area and need no readjustments or reconstructions with the growth of plants. In this way they save time and labor both. In contrast with the agricultural raffia twine, these meshes are inorganic substances. They can be cleaned by washing and can be reused for three to four times at least. So these are considered as cost saving and improved quality products.

There are a number of plant stakes available nowadays for the production of plants and crops. They increase the production capacity of fertilized crops and proven to be the best remedy for the prevention of plants diseases and assure healthy harvesting. Some of these are stood alongside plants and some are tied with the stem of plants. These plant stakes are widely used in growing tomatoes at large scale. They not only support plants in their development but sometimes also make their growth in desired course or direction of the cultivator. These plant stakes are also used in indoor growing of plants such as greenhouses. On the other hand when it is about cultivation on large area field, hail netting is also used for the protection of crops from any damage caused by hailing, storms and other natural disasters. The structure of hail netting depends upon the pattern of plants grown, their quantity and size.

Agricultural raffia covered with plants
Raffia can reduce the stress of the plants and this causes the plants to have a better production.

Another simple and cost effective technique to safeguard the agricultural products is ‘tutoring’. The traditional agricultural raffia twine required manual knitting of threads but tutoring is way too simple as compared to that. The fiber rings of tutoring can also be used side by side with other sort of nettings. Sometimes hortomallas are used on different nettings. These are sluggish agricultural chemicals which increase the life and strength of threads which are used in crop netting. Hence the net becomes able to be used over and over. This also strengthens the netting to resist against heavy rainfalls and strong winds. These hortomalls are considered as a perfect replacement to traditional raffia twine. They also decrease the physical stress on plants, specifically when they are loaded with fruits. On large scale, the decrease in this stress leads to a positive increase in the production of agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables, crops and other plants. These advanced products also minimize the necessity of physical variations in plants as cutting off any of the part of a growing plant decreases its growth and fertility.