Switzerland

Back to Search

International Partner Search

Innovation & Technology Offer

Patented soil mulching technology with environmental advantages

Country of Origin: Italy
Reference Number: TOIT20190531001
Publication Date: 31 May 2019

Summary

An Italian start-up company in the agricultural sector has patented a new soil-mulching system, without the disadvantages of traditional system in terms of disposal and environmental impact.
Company is looking for partners to sign a license agreement or a commercial agreement with technical assistance.

Description

An Italian start-up company, working in the agricultural field, has developed and patented a solution for soil mulching, that improves the traditional systems both in terms of disposal and environmental impact.
In the agricultural sector soil mulching is widely applied. Mulching can be simply obtained by laying cheap plastic foils on the ground, with holes evenly placed where the needed vegetables should grow springing off the soil.
The positive effects of the traditional plastic mulching are:
- reduction of water consumption for irrigation, since the waterproof foil acts as a barrier to evaporation
- confinement of weeds under the foil, so their growth is hampered
- separation of cultivars from the ground, with simpler and cleaner harvesting and tidier edible products
- mitigation of pests, snails and pathogens that can attack the plants
Besides these favourable results, there are also notable drawbacks, here summarised:
- the plastic foils must be laid down and removed at the end of the season, with extra work needed
- common products are plastics made from petrochemical synthesis, raising environmental concerns in the production phase
- the foils are also non-biodegradable and not easily reusable, so once a year they need to be compacted and disposed
- plastic foil can occasionally tear off in small pieces, causing local and (by wind) dispersion of waste
- used foils are a "hard to process" material, since they are a mix of plastic, soil residues, pesticides and chemicals
- the overall amount of waste is around 2 million tons per year in the world a remarkable figure
- nowadays plastic foils are used not only by large farms, but also by small agricultural holdings, nursery owners, flower growers and home gardening, that can pay a lower attention to environmental issues and to proper disposal.

The alternative approach to soil mulching developed by the Italian company maintains the advantages of the traditional plastic foils while eliminating their drawbacks.
The proposed system,entirely made on-site, consists in spraying directly on the ground an aqueous emulsion based on polysaccharides and vegetable fibres. The spraying process builds on the soil a protective geo-membrane (biodegradable film) which accomplishes its mulching function as well as a traditional foil.
After having performed its function, the layer can be milled locally and buried under the soil to be easily metabolized by the bacterial flora therein present.
Company is seeking for partners interested in
- license agreement, in order to authorize the use of the patented product;
- commercial agreement with technical assistance, in order to arrange the acquisition of the technology, paired with the technological transfer service.

Advantages and Innovations

Advantages
The new system shows clear advantages in terms of environmental impact.
The use of polymers of natural origin and the application in crop mulching through the spray methodology, represents a valid alternative to the use of non-biodegradable petroleum origin plastics. Phyto-toxicological studies performed on soils treated with mulches do not show any pathologies; and together with biodegradability they further support the environmental sustainability of the selected polymers and the formulations used. The environmental impact is therefore null.
Small field tests have been conducted since year 2001, with progressive improvements witnessed by several papers published on international reviews in 2004-2018.

Innovative aspects
The approach used for mulching - based on spraying an aqueous emulsion containing polysaccharides and vegetable fibres - is quite innovative. In fact, the market lacks competitors with this mulching approach. There are indeed producers of biodegradable mulching foils with higher costs than low-density plastic foils, but with unclear analysis / evaluation of their post-use phase.
Putting such a new product on the market, with potential customers lacking any previous knowledge of it, constitutes a risk factor. But it should be reconsidered in view of the many successful innovative breakthroughs still occurred in the agro-food industry in the last decades.

Stage Of Development

Available for demonstration

Requested partner

Type: company or enterprise  who manufacture disposables for agriculture.
Activity: agricultural sector.
Role: the partner must be interested to this new system, in order to sign a license agreement or a commercial agreement with technical assistance

Contact Profile Owner