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Silvex




The use of PE plastic mulch films has well-known disadvantages in terms of durability, as well as negative impacts on the environment. The Agrobiofilm project tested an alternative solution, paving the way for the future replacement of conventional plastic films with biodegradable films.


The project team overcame various technological constraints to introduce large-scale biodegradable mulch films. The trials conducted during project provided the necessary knowledge demonstrating the optimal effect of the properties of the new test materials on crop yield, methods of use and biodegradation conditions. 


The substitution of conventional films with biodegradable films is a complex issue involving technical, commercial and socio-economic elements. The Consortium made up of the various actors (SMEs, R&D and farmers) was created to successfully achieve the well-defined and innovative objectives.








A major ecological challenge


The world’s population is expected to increase 50% by 2050. The pressure regarding environmental issues, such as climate and our natural resources, is grounds for the issues of sustainability to increasingly become a part of our lives.


The use of renewable resources is very closely linked to the concept of sustainability or sustainable development. The U.N. World Commission on “The Environment and Development in our future" defines sustainability as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Manufactured products should be planned and devised from "design to reincarnation", also known as the "cradle-to-grave" approach. The use of annually renewable biomass, such as corn or wheat, should be understood within a complete carbon cycle. This concept is based on the development and production of products based on renewable and biodegradable resources, such as starch. The collecting and composting of biodegradable plastic waste can produce many carbon-rich composts: humic materials. The composting made directly in the  soil, after the addition of the bio mulch film, will be checked at the end of the culture cycle, by evaluating eventual changes both in content and in the portions of matter found in the soil, before and after testing. The bio mulch film will contribute towards restarting the carbon cycle, thus reducing the carbon footprint; not only does it reduce the use of fossil fuels, but it also lowers chemical fertiliser consumption, while promoting the direct sequestration of CO2, given the fact that we are using a raw material of agricultural origin which, during its life cycle, used CO2 as a source of carbon for  photosynthesis.


Available technologies have a long road ahead in meeting complex environmental challenges.  The challenge being put forth goes by way of protecting and restoring the integrity of the earth’s ecological systems, so as to build participating and sustainable societies.


As mentioned earlier, one of the main objectives of this project is to promote agricultural sustainability, while always keeping in mind cost-effectiveness for the end user (farmer).





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Material


The mulch film to be developed in the AGROBIOFILM project is obtained from the Mater-Bi® raw material, produced by Novamont, an Italian company dedicated to the quest for environmentally correct alternatives to polyethylene-based plastics. Mater-Bi® was the first biodegradable and compostable biopolymer ever created. Novamont protects its raw material with over 50 patents.


The biodegradation of Mater-Bi® products was certified by several organisations (AIB Vinçotte, in Belgium; DIN Certco, in Germany; Istituto Italiano Plastici, in Italy), in accordance with international standards (EN 13432, DIN 54900, UNI 10785). The non-toxicity of Mater-Bi® products was certified by the Belgian Institute OWS (Organic Waste System), as part of the “OK Compost” certification, using eco-toxicity tests, carried out with both plants and animals.


The mulch film to be developed throughout the AGROBIOFILM project will have its biodegradability and compostability tested according to standards EN 13432 and NFU 52001.


The corn starch used for manufacturing the biodegradable mulch film does not undergo any kind of change at DNA level. No genetically-modified organism is used throughout the entire manufacturing process, and so the Agrobiofilm is certified as GMO free.


Application of Agrobiofilm


Bio Mulch Film will be applied to the soil the same way as polyethylene mulch film. In the different tests, it will be applied manually or mechanically and, in this case, it can be supplemented by the digging of holes and/or the planting of different cultures. The implements farmers use for applying polyethylene mulch film are exactly the same as those to be used with Bio mulch film. Such implements will not require any changes, although occasionally it may be advisable to adjust some of the settings.


Cultures


The field tests take place in Portugal (melon, pepper and strawberry), Spain (strawberry) and France (vines). 


VinesField Experiences will be conducted on the application of biodegradable mulch on vines, as an alternative to the use of polyethylene mulch film commonly used in southern France. Because this is common practice in other countries (Portugal, Spain, the USA, Australia), another modality is included in the experimental plan – growth tubes (greenhouses). The test was set up on 12 April 2010.


MelonOn 28 April, the melon test was set up at one of the members of Hortofrutícolas Campelos (Mr. Alexandre Caetano), in Benfica-do-Ribatejo. The experimental plan considers two modalities: biodegradable mulch film and polyethylene mulch film.


PepperOn 06 May, the pepper test was set up at one of the members of Hortofrutícolas Campelos (Mr. David Gonçalves), in Benfica-do-Ribatejo. The experimental plan considers two modalities: biodegradable mulch film and polyethylene mulch film.


Strawberry - Field Experiences on strawberry will take place in Portugal and Spain. In Portugal, in one of the members of Hortofrutícolas Campelos; in Spain (region of Huelva), in Explotaciones Agrarias Garrido Mora and in the experimental fields of ADESVA.


The importance and advantages of the biodegradable films.


The Agrobiofilm is shown to be a solution to a serious problem that persists in agriculture: the disorderly use of fossil-based plastics in agriculture. The most often used type of plastic is polyethylene, which continues to cause both economic and technical problems regarding its removal.


The Agrobiofilm allows biodegradation within a time period inferior to six months, thereby preventing waste from accumulating in the field, as well as removal costs at the end of the culture cycle.




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Consortium


Agrobiofilm Consortium is composed of several producers (Silvex, Biobag & ICS Environnement). The R&D actors were selected in respect to their expertise and mutual complementarity, also their capacity and experience in collaboration with industrial partners. The consortium also includes final users, fruit and vegetable producers in Portugal, wine in France and strawberries in Spain.






























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SILVEX


Founded in 1968, it started its activities by importing and marketing labelling machines for adhesive film, aluminium and labels for the first major shopping areas in Portugal. It quickly evolved, by becoming an industrial company, while diversifying its business areas. 




Biobag



BIOBAG (Norway)


Current world leader in the manufacture of 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable plastics. In this context, BioBag has gained considerable experience in working with biodegradable plastics, while concerning itself with developing new applications in biodegradable and compostable materials.



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ICS Environnement


A French company associated with BioBag, exclusively devoted to the marketing of 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable plastics. Its role in the project includes closely monitoring research work carried out on vines in France. 




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Instituto Superior de Agronomia


The Agricultural Institute for Higher Education is the largest and most highly-qualified graduate and post-graduate school in Agriculture, as its know-how is nationally and internationally renowned.  



Adesva



Asociacion para el Desarrollo des Sistema Productive Vinculado a la Agricultura Onubense


An important technological centre in Spain.




Unité de recherche



Unité Mixte de Recherches "Ingénierie des Agropolymères et Technologies Emergentes"


A research group constituted by the Université Montpellier II, the INRA (Institut National de Recherche Agronomique), the ENSAM (Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique) and the CIRAD (Centre de Coopération Internationale pour le Dévelopement).        



Aarhus



University of Aarhus


Danish university specialized in agro-ecology, horticulture and evaluation of the environment.




HC



Hortofruticolas Campelos (Portugal)


An organisation of producers recognised parting the scope of (EC) Regulations 2200/96 and 1234/2007, of the Council. Made up by 51 fruit and vegetable growers operating a total of 1800 hectares. Committed to promoting sustainable practices, with economic and environmental feasibility.



Chateau Vaissiere



Olivier Mandeville


Domaine de Vaissière is a 300-ha wine-growing operation located in the region of Languedoc-Roussilon. It produces 25.000 hl of wine annually, normally marketed wholesale.




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Explotación Agrarias Garrido Mora (Spain)


Agricultural producer located in the region de Huelva, growing 5,5ha of strawberries entirely exported to France. Currently undergoing the process of EUREPGAP certification.





Where can you buy it


  • The book "Films Agricoles Biodégradables" in French is only available on our website. If you are interested in this book in English, please, contact us. 

  • Mulch films from Agrobiofilm are now available for the tests on various local cultures. We will be able to propose it once it is tested in local conditions. 



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