The practice of using plastic materials in agricultural applications is known as plasticulture.
“Ag plastics” is a term used to describe a variety of plastic materials in this sector. Soil fumigation film, irrigation drip tubing, farm ponds, greenhouse cultivation, plastic plant packaging cable, nursery pots, and bales are all examples of ag plastics. However, the phrase is most commonly used to represent all types of plastic plant/soil covers. Plastic mulch, row covers, high and low tunnels (polytunnels), and plastic greenhouses are examples of such coverings.
In India, 7.4 million tons of plastics were used in agriculture in 2019.
The Ministry of Agriculture believes that putting it to its best use will help it accomplish its overall goal of tripling farm income by 2022.
Plasticulture’s main advantages include:
As plastics are lightweight, silage may be kept for long periods of time and transferred to different locations. Silage is stored in plastic films that are lightweight and resistant to harsh temperatures.
Plastic irrigation systems and reservoirs, when used together, have made a significant contribution to water management. Water may be stored easily and kept leak-free by covering it with plastic materials. The water can then be supplied to water circulation and irrigation systems via plastic PVC pipes.
Mulching is the technique of covering the soil in order to prevent it from degrading over time. Plastic sheets are used to keep the humidity high and prevent water from evaporating from the soil. This also improves the thermal conditions and retains the soil’s nutrients.
Low tunnels are formed of plastic nets and function similarly to greenhouses, with the exception of their height and complexity. Crops can be protected from insects and bad weather using these plastic netting.
Alternative natural materials derived from plants and animals, as well as newer generation bio-polymers (plastics manufactured from biomass), are available. A recent United Nations research study discusses both traditional plastic alternatives, such as paper, cotton, and wood, as well as less obvious alternatives, such as algae, fungi, and pineapple leaves, among others.
We know how plastics have aided the agricultural industry over time. Plastics will continue to play an important part in agriculture and generate new innovations through suitable recycling procedures. As a result, state and national governments must step in to encourage good and responsible behavior.