Environmental and hydrological implications of innovative sprayable biodegradable polymer membrane


Competition title: Jedinstvo uz pomoć znanja UKF

Funding: UKF i HRZZ

AFZ role: coordinator

Total value: HRK 37,259.00

Funded amount: HRK 37,259.00

Start date: 2019/05/22

End date: 2019/09/22

Web: https://sites.google.com/view/envirosbpm/


Plastic mulch films are widely used in agriculture to enhance crop production by suppressing weeds, conserving soil water and increasing soil temperature. However, the majority of plastic mulch films are not biodegradable and are typically removed after each growing season. Recovery of these plastics from the soil is difficult and can affect successive crop yields while causing substantive cost to farmers and negative environmental effects. Due to increasingly stringent regulations regarding use of non-degradable plastic in agriculture they are likely to be phased out in the near future. In the past 10 years several classes of ‘biodegradable’ materials have been studied, but most of these films are reported to be relatively weak in mechanical properties, not efficiently degradable and cost prohibitive. More recently, researchers have turned their attention to sprayable biodegradable polymer coatings for use on soils due to their easy application and versatility. The main objective of the proposed collaboration is to explore the value of recently patented water based Sprayable Biodegradable Polymer Membrane (SBPM, developed by CSIRO) through field experiments and numerical modeling. First part of the research will be focused on experimental settings and data collection regarding water balance monitoring with various sensors. The second part will include hydrological model calibration based on field data and performing simulations of water and solute behaviour under sprayable mulch. These simulations will include multiple scenarios (e.g. different management systems, irrigation methods and mulch applications), thus provide information about the environmental and hydrological effects of such practices in agricultural fields. Expected results will be published in recognized scientific journal and should increase the usage of this innovative technology in agricultural production, resulting in lowering plastic pollution problems. The group will further explore global funding possibilities or EU funding agencies to conduct research under different environmental conditions in Croatia.


Assoc. Prof. Vilim Filipović, PhD
University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture


Asst. Prof. Lana Filipović, PhD
University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture

Prof. Marija Romić, PhD
University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture

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