The use of films and netting in agriculture and horticulture is increasing across South America, Africa and Eurasia, from greenhouses, tunnels, floating covers and mulch, to silage and storage bags. It is being used in cold climates for winter protection and warmth, and as shade and for water conservation in hot seasons. Specialty films can inhibit the growth of weeds and pests and promote plant growth, even improving colour of crops like red roses. The increasing use of pesticides has caused early failure of films and this is the subject of extensive studies, along with the effects of photoselective films on pollination by bees. At the top end of the cover market there are very high tech hydroponic installations with complete circulation of air and water, research which even considers applications on other planets. Sustainability is a big issue and efforts are being made to improve recovery and recycling rates. Biodegradable plastics are being used in mulch film, which saves money by cutting recovery costs. However, the degradation has to occur at just the right rate for the grower to get maximum benefit.
The 3rd international conference on Agricultural Film, organised by Applied Market Information, takes place in November 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. Agricultural Film 2010 brings together agricultural and horticultural specifiers, researchers, manufacturers and the supply chain to the industry. It provides a forum to network with professionals in this highly specialised business.