Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2004
Publication Date: 4/1/2004
Citation: Parris, N., Douds, D.D., Dickey, L.C., Moreau, R.A., Phillips, J.G. 2004. Effect of hydrophilic zein films on the growth of tomato plants and evaporative water loss. Meeting Abstract.95th American Oil Chemists' Society Annual Meeting and Exposition, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 9-12, 2004. Book of Abstracts. p.123.
Technical Abstract: Non-biodegradable, polymeric materials presently used as ground cover to control weeds and contain or reduce water evaporation are inexpensive to manufacture but expensive to use because of additional cost in collecting the material after the growing season. In addition, polymer materials, which can cover up to 70% of a field, increase surface water runoff (Hapeman 2003)a. As a result more of the pesticides applied on such fields are found in the runoff. In this study we prepared biodegradable films from "zein isolate", an alcohol soluble protein-lipid extract from corn kernels. We compared the effect of groundcover films prepared from a commercial zein product and our zein isolate on the growth of tomato plants and evaporative water loss. Results indicated that lipids present in the isolate increased water retention in the soil and enhanced the growth and dry weight of the resulting plants. There was a decrease in water loss from the growth media for pots treated with zein films compared to the control (no film). There was no difference in the height of treated plants but there was a 21% increase in dry weight of the treated plants relative to the control. Plants mulched with zein isolates, low in free fatty acids (LFFA), exhibited an 18% increase in height and a 28% increase in dry weight of tomato plants compared to the control. Tomato plants treated with commonly used, non-biodegradable, black polyethylene sheating mulch were the tallest of the plants tested and had the greatest dry weight. Although not quite as effective as non-biodegradable polyethylene sheating, zein isolate films appear to be a viable ground cover for plants, especially when biodegradable materials are preferred. Farmers and horticulturalists should benefit from this research.