"Comparison of biodegradable mulch products to polyethylene in irrigated vegetable, tomato and melon crops” is the trial project carried out in Queensland by the Bowen Research Facility of the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry during the cropping seasons 2009, 2010 and 2011. The project has been funded by Horticulture Australia, using voluntary contributions from the Bowen-Gumlu Growers Association, Novamont and the Queensland Government with matched funding from the Australian Government.
Main purpose of the project was to find alternative to traditional plastic film for mulching to solve the issue of plastic waste in agriculture.
Biodegradable and compostable mulch films were targeted because they can be incorporated into soils after harvest, biodegrading into natural materials and having no harmful effect.
The key desirable characteristics in biodegradable and compostable mulches are:
No disposal issues – mulch has to be incorporated into the soil after harvest, having no harmful effects on the soil;
Possibility to be handled with current commercial equipment and systems with only minor, if any, adjustments needed;
Weed suppression, water retention, crop quality and yields comparable to those currently provided by standard PE mulch film;
Adequate bed coverage throughout the life of the crop planted;
- Economic viability.
The trial clearly shows that: “Mater-Bi biodegradable mulch film performed well over the season, with no major differences compared to polyethylene. Brittleness and biodegradation declined over time as expected, while small losses of bed cover in the Mater-Bi treatments did not affect yields or weed growth significantly."
Mater-Bi biodegradable mulch film is produced in Australia, is certified biodegradable and compostable according to AS 4736 and according to the "OK Biodegradable in Soil" certification scheme. Mater-Bi biodegradable mulch film has a high content of renewable resources and is approved for use in Organic Agriculture in Europe.
Being manufactured in Australia, the new generation Mater-Bi is an ideal alternative for traditional plastic mulch film replacement, keeping costs low.
To download the final report of the project, click here