The general objective of the AGROBIOFILM project includes eliminating the technical barriers that prevent biodegradable plastics from becoming a viable substitute for PE mulch film. This involves not only optimising the biodegradable formulation for use in specific regions, but also improving this formulation, while considering multiple aspects, such as:
› Culture output (in quantitative and qualitative terms);
› Possibility of reducing or completely eliminating the use of herbicides;
› Reducing water consumption;
› Controlling plagues and diseases;
› Facilitating and speeding up soil preparation;
Therefore, the consortium also seeks to contribute towards increasing farmers’ competitiveness as well as towards the sustainability of farming practices, in a sector facing mounting pressure from foreign competition and environmental challenges. This successful technology meets market demands, while overcoming several technical obstacles.
The consortium has pointed out 9 main objectives for the AGROBIOFILM project, which it broke down into two categories: technical and scientific.
Achieve technical proficiency in target regions, which includes overcoming a lack of knowledge regarding the reliability of biodegradable plastic film in production systems. The “BioMulchFilm” should be customised and its properties easily adapted to various cultures;
Improve economic results: When conducting a life cycle analysis, the biodegradable plastic mulch should be economically advantageous, when compared to the traditional polyethylene option. This should be documented via a cost-benefit analysis, taking into account not only the cost of plastic, but also, at the end of the life cycle of cultures, the costs for the removal, recycling and/or disposal of the various plastics.
Improve energy efficiency: The production of “BioMulchFilm” should be optimised so as to minimise the energy needs of the process, which shall directly reflect on the commercial price charged to end-users.
Functionality: the “BioMulchFilm” should be user-friendly, without changing the methods and equipment used in the application of polyethylene mulch film. Field tests will be conducted to define working methods and to demonstrate film feasibility and reliability;
Efficiency: Biodegradable plastic mulch film should be able to reduce the use of herbicides and control the appearance of plagues and diseases, thus contributing towards improving the output of the operation.
Expand areas for use: reference cultures were chosen for performing an analytical control on the maximum number of variables, thus increasing the potential for generalisation later on, by extrapolating and modelling the results obtained with the different modalities studied (basically, according to the formulations used in a certain culture, under various edaphoclimatic conditions).
Demonstrating and validating: the technology should be made known, demonstrated and validated, while showing results to potential interested parties (participation in congresses, seminars, workshops, visits to testing fields and training sessions).
To understand the effect of innovative “BioMulchFilm” on the culture cycle, on the quality of the product and on the occurrence of plagues and diseases.
The integration of the effect of new biodegradable mulch film with cultures, namely with their needs, soil features and weather conditions, will make it possible to model the technical specifications of new mulch film to be produced.