Performance and environmental impact of biodegradable films in agriculture: A field study on protected cultivation

Anu Kapanen, E. Schettini (Corresponding Author), G. Vox, Merja Itävaara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


The performance, the degradability in soil and the environmental impact of biodegradable starch-based soil mulching and low tunnel films were assessed by means of field and laboratory tests. The lifetime of the biodegradable mulches was 9 months and of the biodegradable low-tunnel films 6 months. The radiometric properties of the biodegradable films influenced positively the microclimate: air temperature under the biodegradable low tunnel films was 2 °C higher than under the low density polyethylene films, resulting in an up to 20% higher yield of strawberries. At the end of the cultivation period, the biodegradable mulches were broken up and buried in the field soil together with the plant residues. One year after burial, less than 4% of the initial weight of the biodegradable film was found in the soil. According to ecotoxicity tests, the kinetic luminescent bacteria test with Vibrio fischeri and the Enchytraeus albidus ISO/CD 16387 reproduction potential, there was no evidence of ecotoxicity in the soil during the biodegradation process. Furthermore, there was no change in the diversity of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in the soil determined on the basis of the appearance of amoA gene diversity in denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-122
JournalJournal of Polymers and the Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria
  • Biotest
  • Microbial community
  • Radiometric properties
  • Starch based material


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