The recent focus on clean technology has led to an increased demand for renewable and biodegradable mulch products for use in agricultural applications.
Agricultural paper mulch has the potential to replace the non-biodegradable plastic films currently dominating the market, provided it can meet some key end-use requirements.
In recent years, FPInnovations has developed strategies that use existing pulp and paper infrastructures to produce wood fibre-based structures with high stretch and a controllable permeability. These strategies were applied to the development of practical and cost-effective paper mulch prototypes for horticultural and agricultural production.
Some of this work was conducted in collaboration with the Institut de Recherche et de Développement en Agroenvironnement (IRDA) – a Quebec-based research institute focusing on agricultural environmental issues. Thanks to IRDA, we now have a better understanding of end-use requirements for this type of product, and strong support for the various field trials conducted.
Our technology for making highly stretchable paper has been successfully scaled-up to widths suitable to conduct agricultural field trials. Paper mulch rolls of different thicknesses and with various treatments were produced, and have been successfully installed on farmland using existing laying equipment, in several locations in Quebec. These first trials have shown that the durability of the paper mulch prototypes varied with geographical location.
Rafik Allem about paper products as mulch
“The development of non-traditional paper products, such as mulch, will bring the pulp and paper sector new opportunities with high growth potential,” says FPInnovations’ Rafik Allem, research leader, packaging and consumer products. “We are eager to work with member companies to bring this technology to commercial demonstration,” he adds.