Arable land / Agricultural films
Carrots, melons, onions — we need bees to help feed our planet
The use of films in the agricultural sector, whether indoor or outdoor, improves the world’s nutritional situation by significantly increasing the yield per hectare of agricultural land. This is important. By 2025, the United Nations is estimating a 15% increase in our planet’s population, while only a 4% increase in available agricultural land.
Plastic films first appeared in agriculture in 1948, and are today used to replace glass in greenhouses, as mulch films, and in silage production. According to the market research firm Transparency Market Research, in 2012 the global demand for agricultural films was 4.4. million tons and it is predicted to show a growth rate of 5.7 percent by 2019.
Cultivation in greenhouses helps to achieve the needed increase in yields and several harvest cycles can be realized each year. The control of temperature, sun radiation and humidity allows for a reduction of supplied water. For example a tomato grown indoors requires six to eight times less water than a tomato grown outdoors. Compared to exposed outdoor cultivation, fertilizer and pesticide use is also reduced. Mulch films are either placed flat over growing plants or directly on the soil of the field. They suppress weed growth, prevent evaporation of water, accelerate plant growth, and avoid erosion.
This is all good news from an enviromental perspective and for optimizing crop growth.
However, agricultural plastic films are sensitive to sun exposure and some pesticides. Aged films mean lots of plastic garbage and pollution if incorrectly disposed of through uncontrolled burning. Also, bees require specific light waves for orientation. If this range of UV radiation is filtered out by the film, the bees’ mobility and thus pollination are impaired. The priority is to optimize the resistance of these films and increase their lifetime.
Film producers can now take advantage of an innovative light-stabilizer technology from Clariant which not only offers high UV protection but also strong resistance to pesticides. Furthermore products are available that do not filter out UV rays needed by bees.
Hostavin® NOW presents a step forward from conventional light-stabilizer technology, frequently based on Hindered Amine Light Stabilizer (HALS) compounds, which is deactivated by agrochemicals. It can be directly added during the production process of agricultural films, saving production costs. It becomes firmly embedded in the film and cannot be released into the environment, and does not cause obnoxious odors or vapors during production.
The finished films demonstrate a significantly higher resistance against increasingly used pesticides such as sulfur and halogenated, often chlorinated, chemicals for pest control, strong sun exposure, and high temperatures compared to films produced with conventional HALS. Compliance with standards, such as the CEPLA Directive with a film lifespan of three years and the use of over 3,000 ppm sulfur as pesticide, not only lowers the environmental impact caused by films thanks to a significantly reduced need for replacement, but also saves time and energy.
In our product series AddWorks AGC based on the Hostavin NOW technology, Clariant offers individual solutions for agricultural films which are precisely tailored to the specific needs of customers such as contact with agrochemicals, UV light management, or simply the strength of sun exposure. A typical example is AddWorks AGC 104, which filters out just one specific UV wavelength range in order to allow for natural pollination by bees: only those light waves may pass which are needed by insects for orientation and are not harmful to plants.
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