NEW MULCH: Local small cropper Eddy Zaina and environmental scientist John Coulombe in a field with the new bio-degradable plastic mulch.
NEW MULCH: Local small cropper Eddy Zaina and environmental scientist John Coulombe in a field with the new bio-degradable plastic mulch.

This plastic's fantastic for vegetable grower

AFTER 30 years of farming in Bundaberg Eddy Zaina has switched from conventional plastic mulch to a biodegradable product.

The biodegradable mulch is made by Bio-Film Crop Protection in Bundaberg and uses calcium in the plastic process that is similar to the calcium used in toothpaste.

The manufacturer uses a retardant to keep the mulch from degrading too fast, and when the retardant wears off the plastic disintegrates and is absorbed by the soil.

Bio-Film spokesman John Coulombe said as an environmental scientist he was very surprised farmers were still using so much plastic.

"You see it all over Australia, on the sides of the road or in ditches," he said.

"Some of the plastic eventually ends up in the oceans and most often in the stomach of sea birds or turtles.

"Because some plastic looks like jellyfish, which happens to be one of the main foods of turtles, the turtles ingest the plastic and die."

Mr Coulombe said he had been told by farmers that the plastic was very difficult to roll up after use and quite often ripped into smaller pieces.

With a bit of wind these pieces often ended up in neighbours' yards or the ocean.

Mr Zaina said although the initial cost of degradable plastic was slightly more than conventional plastic, it ended up being quite a bit less when he factored in the cost associated with ripping up the plastic and disposing of it.



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