Organic matter is essential for plantain cultivation if the field is to be very productive for a long time. A high level of organic matter in the soil is beneficial because it stimulates root development, improves soil drainage, decreases soil temperature fluctuation and increases soil porosity and biological life.
Organic matter decays under the influence of micro-organisms in the soil, heavy rainfall and high soil temperature. The amount of organic matter will gradually decrease once the field has been cleared and cause a decrease in yield.
Therefore, newly established plantains which receive only fertilizer will produce a high yield only in the first year of production. Meanwhile, in the second year the yield will drop because the organic matter must have decomposed.
To compensate for this continuous decrease in the amount of organic matter, the field needs mulch from plants and/or manure from animals. There are many sources of mulch, it can be carried into the field or produced between the plants but to be very effective, it should cover the soil completely.
Once the field is mulched, weeds are controlled and the topsoil is protected against heavy rainfall and intense sunshine. Poultry, pigs and cows produce suitable manure which is applied only at the base of the mat.