Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists developed a biodegradable, water resistant, agricultural mulch that is produced from paper and a cross-linked drying oil. These mulches are inexpensive to produce and are also water-resistant, mechanically stable, and highly effective as weed barriers. The reactivities of various drying oils permit the development of a broad spectrum of coating systems and coating properties. Polyethylene films are used extensively in agriculture as greenhouse covers, forage covers and agricultural mulch. It is very difficult to recycle due to contamination with dirt and debris, as well as loss in mechanical properties from UV catalyzed oxidation. Many landfills reject mulch film because of pesticide residues. Thus, it must be treated as hazardous waste. A biodegradable mulch would have the dual advantages of avoiding costs of removal and disposal, as well as contributing humus to the soil.
Current U.S. markets for agricultural mulch film are about 300 million pounds per year. Large foreign markets also exist. There would be substantial time, labor and equipment savings since the biodegradable coated paper could be tilled into the soil rather than having to be removed from the field. This invention would increase the use of agricultural commodities such as soybean oil, waste fiber and chemicals from corn, while decreasing the use of herbicides or petroleum based plastics. The technology is applicable to the agricultural mulch film industry.
Please refer to USPN 6,312,826 (Docket #0093.97), “Paper Coated with Polymerized Vegetable Oils for Use as Biodegradable Mulch,” which issued November 6, 2001. Foreign rights are not available.
Randal L. Shogren
Plant Polymer Research
Peoria, IL 61604
Fax: (309)681-6691, firstname.lastname@example.org