Biodegradable films and spray coatings as eco-friendly alternative to petro-chemical derived mulching films
AbstractThe use of plastic mulching films in horticulture causes the serious drawback of huge amount of wastes to be disposed of at the end of their lifetime. Several pre-competitive research products based on raw materials coming from renewable sources were recently developed to be used as biodegradable materials for soil mulching. Biodegradable materials are designed in order both to retain their mechanical and physical properties during their using time and to degrade at the end of their lifetime. These materials can be integrated directly in the soil in order to biodegrade because the bacterial flora transforms them in carbon dioxide or methane, water and biomass. The innovative materials can be obtained using natural polymers, such as starch, cellulose, chitosan, alginate and glucomannan. Biodegradable extruded mulching films were performed by means of thermo-plasticizing process. Spray mulch coatings were realized directly in field, by spraying water solutions based on natural polysaccharides, thus covering the cultivated soil with a protective thin geo-membrane. In this paper an overview on the formulation development, processing understanding, field performance, mechanical and radiometric properties of these innovative materials for soil mulching is presented. In field the biodegradable mulching films showed suitable mechanical properties if compared to the low density polyethylene films. The radiometric properties and their effect on the temperature condition and on weed control in the mulched soil were evaluated too. At the end of their lifetime the biodegradable materials were shattered and buried into the soil together with plants.
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Copyright (c) 2013 G. Vox, G. Santagata, M. Malinconico, B. Immirzi, G. Scarascia Mugnozza, E. Schettini
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