AMI has announced the programme for the first international conference on Agricultural Film, which will be held in Barcelona from 18-20th February 2008. There is an overview of the markets for plastics in agriculture (AMI) followed by a paper outlining the prospects for the industry and changes that will affect the technology used by plant growers (BSK Plast Pack & Agrarservice Und Trade).
There are developments in greenhouse and tunnel films from selective light filters to improved UV resistance. Wageningen University has been testing a variety of new materials for commercial producers and will talk about the requirements. Dr Espi (Repsol) is renowned for his work on greenhouse film compounds. Abe More of Techmer will present additive technology for heat and wavelength management. Rohm and Haas have developed a more durable film material. Ciba has worked with film worldwide and developed additives to meet the wide range of climates. Grafe Color Batch have special pigments for roofing films. The effects of these materials in terms of product durability and plant growth will be discussed.
In terms of manufacturing, Total Petrochemicals have new metallocene polyethylene which can permit downgauging and reduce material usage, while Davis-Standard has been working on new machinery for this very wide film production.
Dr Briassoulis (Agricultural University of Athens) is a world expert on agricultural film. He will be talking about his latest research into recycling and exploitation of agricultural plastic wastes, including regulatory issues.
Mulch films get very dirty and contaminated with chemicals from the soil, so their recovery and removal from fiels can be very difficult. This has led to a lot of trials with biodegradable plastics. The agricultural engineers at Ctifl Balandran in France have carried out years of testing of 6 different types and will be reporting their results. Based in one of the large growing regions, Oerlemans Plastics BV (with FKUR Kunststoff) will talk about the production of compostable PLA film. The University of Lleida in Spain has carried out field trials with biodegradable mulch films.
Silage film has a third set of requirements - it must withstand weathering and microbe activity for as long as the grass has to be stored. Teagasc in Ireland have studied these requirements for stretch polyethylene film. Cabot Corporation have black and white masterbatches that are suitable, and Kronos International have worked on titanium dioxide masterbatch solutions.
Agricultural Film 2008 is an opportunity for growers and film experts to get together to debate ways to improve crop production and tackle the current challenges for the industry.