V. Pastukhov, O. Mogilnay, M. Bakum, O. Melnyk, I. Grabar, R. Kуrуchenko, M. Krekot*, H. Tesliuk, V. Boiko and I. Sysenko

The scientific research addresses the development of the energy-efficient ecologically friendly technology for growing potatoes on the field surface under the straw mulch. A traditional potato growing technology requires high energy costs connected with the use of agricultural machinery. In the course of technological operations, machine-tractor aggregates (MTA) cause excessive soil compaction, thus deteriorating its air and water balance and, consequently, reducing its fertility. Current industrial technologies involve a widespread use of pesticides in potato cultivation. In addition, climate change in recent years has led to an increase in air and soil temperatures during the plant growing season. These factors compromise the crop potato capacity and its quality. The developed eco-friendly technology for mechanized potato cultivation consists of decomposing potato planting material on the surface of the field and covering the entire area of the field with a straw mulch; and elimination of inter-row tillage during the growing season. The potato harvesting process is simplified and consists only of lifting the potatoes from the surface by harvesters. This technology provides the best temperature regime for the formation of a potato crop, minimizes the machinery impact on the soil and the use of pesticides; and reduces energy costs. A mathematical model was developed to illustrate the parameters of the technology, which allows determining the required thickness of the mulch layer for the best temperature regime necessary for the growth of stolons and tubers when the air temperature changes. Experimental field studies have confirmed that a straw lawyer of 20-25 cm thick keeps the temperature in the tuber crops area from 15.5 to 20.5ºC at a daily temperature of 32ºC, which helps to create the optimal conditions for the potato growth. Moreover, such a mulch layer becomes an obstacle for weed germination. Comparative field studies have confirmed the effectiveness of the introduced energy-efficient environmentally friendly potato growing technology. With the use of this technology, the yield capacity has increased to 51.9%.

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