may also form part of the cell wall matrix. Most bacteria have an outer layer of mucilage, and many seaweeds contain mucilage in their tissues, which helps retain moisture when exposed at low tide, and also on their surfaces, helping reduce resistance to wave action and thus minimize damage.
mud flat A large flat area of mud, usually in an estuary or around a coast, that is periodically inundated by the sea.
mulch 1. A protective covering of compost, paper, bark chippings, cocoa shells, etc. spread over the ground to reduce evaporation, control weeds, enrich the soil, and protect against temperature fluctuations. Straw is used to keep soft fruits such as strawberries (Fragaria ananassa) clean and dry.
2. In agriculture, the process of leaving crop residues on the soil surface or burying them to add to the organic matter in the soil and reduce evaporation. Crops are planted by machinery that penetrates the mulch. In humid areas mulch does not break up readily, and may deprive the crop of nitrogen, so fertilizer is often added below the mulch. Intercropping (the planting of a second crop between the rows of the main crop) may be used to provide plants for mulching after the main crop has been harvested.
mull See humus.
multicropping The practice of growing more than one crop on the same piece of land in the same year.
multifactorial experiment An experiment in which more than one factor is varied at time or more than one treatment given to the subject or system under investigation.
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