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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Plant Polymer Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #243922

Title: Poly(lactic acid) and Osage Orange Wood Fiber Composites for Agricultural Mulch Films

item Finkenstadt, Victoria
item Tisserat, Brent

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/21/2009
Publication Date: 1/4/2010
Citation: Finkenstadt, V.L., Tisserat, B. 2010. Poly(lactic acid) and Osage Orange Wood Fiber Composites for Agricultural Mulch Films. Industrial Crops and Products. 31(2):316-320.

Interpretive Summary: The manuscript reports on the formation of a polymer-wood composite using poly(lactic acid) and osage orange wood fabricated by extrusion. PLA is a biobased polymer produced from coproducts of biofuel fermentation. OO is a fast growing, native woody plant. The intended end use of PLA-OO composites is agricultural mulch films. The composites are biodegradable and competitive in cost with comparable non-sustainable petroleum based products currently in the marketplace. The manuscript discusses the mechanical properties of PLA-OO composites in both dry and wet states and indicates that the unique organic compounds of Osage Orange are readily available for controlled release during application. The PLA-OO agricultural mulch film may be beneficial to agricultural applications since it provides erosion control, promotes plant growth, reduces the need for pesticides and is ultimately biodegradable in a growth season. The current study presents a new way to utilize agricultural by-products for the future profitability of the agriculture industry.

Technical Abstract: Osage orange wood was combined with poly(lactic acid) to form a polymer composite intendedfor use as an agricultural mulch film. The mechanical properties were comparable to existing products and had the advantage of being completely biodegradable through a single growing season. PLA-OO composites were evaluated for mechanical properties in dry and wet conditions and availability of its organic components for insect and microbial control. PLA-OO mulch films will provide a weed barrier and control soil erosion as well as allow the controlled release of the OO components for additional protection.