A CLEAR film designed to cover plant rows like a roll of glad-wrap is set to deliver the heat and moisture benefits of glasshouse production and boost the establishment of high-value crops such as cotton.
Featuring at the CRT FarmFest field days near Toowoomba this week, the biodegradable, polymer-based film was fitted to a Norseman Techni-Plant planter equipped with an integrated Film Layer.
The precision sowing machine lays the film over the top of the seedbed row in a one-pass operation.
The film, which is 450 millimetres wide and comes in half-kilometre-long rolls, has 7.62cm-wide slits along its centre line directly above the seed row through which the young crop plants emerge.
To start the roll out of the film, a hydraulic spade at the back of the unit throws some dirt onto the film to hold it in place to start.
As the film is rolling out, insertion discs at the side of machine push the edges of the film into the ground and covering discs add some soil to hold the sides down.
The result is a seedbed row covered in a stretched film that creates a mini-glasshouse effect.
The fully biodegradable film is designed to degrade after 90 days and be broken down completely by the time crops are harvested.
Norseman branch manager, Daniel Smith, Toowoomba, said the clear film was designed to increase soil temperature so planting could be started earlier.
“Clear plastic is better than black plastic because it lets the sun in. It holds moisture during the day, but the important thing is the increase in ground temperature,” he said.
“It is particularly designed for high value crops, especially cotton where it is grown in the colder areas, such as the Riverina. We can see it particularly being used in those southern areas where the start to the cotton season is a bit colder.
“It will also have a roll for other crops like corn.”
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