Development of subsurface irrigation systems with antiroot properties

To develop new subsurface irrigation systems with antiroot properties for use in short and long-term crops, by the use of natural/non-toxic additives, avoiding contamination of soil and any negative effect on the cultivated plants.

One of the major problems using subsurface irrigation system consists on root intrusion into the drip irrigation system opened holes leading to a partial or total obstruction. There are, basically, three ways to prevent the intrusion: 1. Injection of herbicide though the irrigation system (drippers), 2. Addition of herbicide into the water 3. Addition of the herbicide into the pipe polymer through compounding, creating a slow release irrigation system. Herbicides are chemical substances used to control unwanted plants. Historically, products such as common salt and other metal salts were used as herbicides. However, these have gradually fallen out of favor, and in some countries, a number of these are banned due to their persistence in soil, toxicity and groundwater contamination concerns. The overall objective of this project is to develop subsurface microirrigation systems for use in short and long-term crops, containing a non-toxic anti-root additive, to avoid contamination in the soil and any negative effect on cultivated plants. For that reason, natural herbicides such as pelargonic acid or essentiols oils or synthetic additives with a low toxicity tested in other applications (construction) will be used. The important advantages that this development can bring against the current ones would be: - The natural/non-toxic herbicides will inhibit the roots growth around the dripper, avoiding its obstruction. - The use of natural herbicides (sucs as pelargonic acid or essential oils) will reduce the potential damage to human health and the environment caused by the use of synthetic herbicides. Two different technologies will be explored in the project to incorporate the natural additives as herbicides in the pipe (and not in the emitter dripper, where there are already some developments in the market). - Partner EXTRULINE: Use of a specific bi-extrusion technology, where the anti-root additive will be added in a longitudinal functional strip of the pipe, which will include the hole needed for the dripping of the dripper. The natural herbicides will be included in the polymeric matrix using encapsulation methodology, if needed, to avoid their thermal degradation and loss of properties during the extrusion process. - Partner METZERPLAS: Use of a coextrusion technology, where the anti-root additive will be incorporated in the internal layer of a coextruded bilayer pipe using a proprietary technology (according to the patent EP 3 092 893 A1). In that case a special methodology based on expanded nanocomposites/multilayers hybrid blends will be developed to control the release of the essential oils. These are some of the reasons that explain the importance of analysing the effect on the place of the pipe where the functional natural herbicide will be added: BIEXTRUSION TECHNOLOGY: 1) The incorporation of the additive into a longitudinal strip of the pipe will reduce the content of the additive to the actual zone of interest, the zone where the pipe is perforated over the emitter dripper, which will reduce both the economic and environmental costs. 2) As the additive will be added in the surface of the pipe, the roots of the plants will encounter the antiroot additive before reaching the dripper, thus avoiding its obstruction. COEXTRUSION TECHNOLOGY: 1) The introduction of the active additives in an inner layer will create an additional barrier, avoiding the release of the active material from the pipe surface, focusing the herbicide action in the vicinity of the dripper In any case, the products developed by the two companies of the consortium will allow to determine the best effectivity in the control of root growths, depending on the place where the functional additive is added. Both types of products will be evaluated by both companies but in different types of crops: Extruline will validate the system in olive trees crops, while Metzerplas will evaluate the new pipes in vegetable crops.
Project ID: 
12 172
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
920 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Food Technology
Market Area: 

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