Novamont S.p.A

Spain: Mater-Bi mulching films used on extended cotton crops


Courtesy of Novamont S.p.A

Mulching film is normally used on vegetable crops. The 'cotton' case study in Spain shows that it can also be used on a industrial crop.

Country: Spain, Andalusia
Crop: cotton
Year: 2002, area 10 hectares - Year 2005, area 1500 hectares
Sowing: March
Harvest: October-November

Basic problems
As the traditional polyethylene films do not transpire, they produce a copious amount of condensate between the soil and the film. This phenomenon results in considerable damage to the crop. In the initial phases of the plant's growth, this phenomenon is the cause of many burns to the young leaves. Furthermore, for PE films to remain a long time on the field, they need holes to be punched in them, which means an increase in labour costs, greater compacting of the soil and a risk of damaging the crop.

Then PE films have to be removed when the crop has been harvested, a job that is difficult (because the film has been damaged and breaks easily), requires labour, another pass of the machinery over the land, and a serious danger of polluting the cotton with fragments of PE, which reduces its commercial value. In addition to the problems mentioned above, there is the cost of disposing of the mulching film, which varies from zone to zone.

The solution: film in Mater-Bi

Characteristics of the product:
it was decided that a transparent film made of Mater-Bi, with a width of 60 cm and thickness of 12 µm, should be used.

The advantages:
in relation to traditional PE films, the Mater-Bi film has excellent structural advantages:

  • permeability: to water vapour, thereby preventing the formation of condensate;
  • breaking capacity of the film after 3/4 weeks under the pressure of the growing plant. As a result, it is no longer necessary to perforate the film on the field;
  • biodegradability: the films biodegrade in a few months, and therefore do not have to be removed after the crop has been harvested. The phenomenon of 'white pollution' does not exist.
  • machinability: the film is laid out using traditional machinery, which requires no modification. The machinery can lay out 8 - 12 bobbins at a time.
  • savings on maintenance of the machinery: no film residues left on the working parts of the machinery.
  • Less tramping, and therefore, less compacting of the farmland: with Mater-Bi films, the machinery makes one pass to lay out the film, and one for the normal working of the land, whereas with PE films, there are twice as many passes. Fewer passes on the soil reduces the effects of compacting, thereby preserving the structure.

Area covered: 1500 hectares.


  • The productivity is maintained
  • Savings of time-labour
  • Savings of disposal costs

Mater-Bi has confirmed its suitability for providing technically efficient solutions that are perfectly adaptable to large farms, where the economic aspects of the innovation must also contribute to making farm management sustainable.

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