Biodegradability in soil determination and fate of some emerging biodegradable materials for agricultural mulching
Universitat de Lleida. Departament de Hortofructicultura, Botànica i Jardineria
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The purpose of this PhD thesis was to evaluate the biodegradability potential and ecotoxicological effects of several biodegradable plastics for agricultural use under controlled laboratory conditions in soil. In this study, commercial and still in experimental stage biodegradable plastic films were chosen: Mater-Bi® (corn starch), Bio-Flex® (polylactic acid), Biofilm® (cereal flour), Bioplast® (potato starch), MirelTM (polyhydroxyalcanoates) Ecovio® and Bionelle®. In addition, a sheet commercially known as MimGreen® paper was evaluated. Initially, a gravimetric and FTIR analyses were carried out to determine changes in both weight loss and molecular changes in the plastics respectively. A second experiment consisted in assessing the biodegradability of the materials by designing and building a respirometric system. This system allowed me to measure, with a higher sensitive, the biodegradation process of the materials under laboratory conditions in soil. In addition, I compared the biodegradability of these materials with the remains of a typical crop used for mulch application, tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum). Finally, the ecotoxicological effects of biodegradable films on Zea mays plants, earthworms Eisenia fetida and microbial soil activity were evaluated using the standardised regulations or existing methods. Thus, I was able to prove ecological advantages of these materials.
European research projects
- Tesis Doctorals 
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Bandyopadhyay, Sreejata; Martin-Closas, Lluis; Pelacho Aja, Ana Mª; DeBruyn, Jennifer M. (Frontiers Media, 2018)Agricultural plastic mulch films are widely used in specialty crop production systems because of their agronomic benefits. Biodegradable plastic mulches (BDMs) offer an environmentally sustainable alternative to conventional ...
Can bioplastic or woodchip groundcover replace herbicides or plastic mulching for valuable broadleaf plantations in Mediterranean areas? Coello, Jaime; Coll Mir, Lluís; Piqué i Nicolau, Míriam (Springer Nature, 2017-01-19)Weed control is fundamental in plantations of valuable broadleaved species. The most common weeding techniques are repeatedly applied herbicides and removable plastic mulching, both raising environmental concerns. We studied ...
Barragán, Dan Jarry; Pelacho Aja, Ana Mª; Martin-Closas, Lluis (CSIRO Publishing, 2016)Mulches, usually consisting of polyethylene films, are used in agriculture to improve production. The main drawback of using polyethylene is its extremely high stability. Removing it from the field is usually not feasible, ...