Such new mulching materials now need suitable testing to assess their agronomic and cost effectiveness.

An example of this type of mulch, “Bionolle”, is made from polybutylene succinate (PBS) and polybutylene succinate adipate (PBSA). It has a thickness of 18 micrometres and presently costs about 0.3 USD per m2.

AVRDC has tested this new material in its technology demonstration garden. The strength of the new biodegradable mulch film proved to be adequate for application in the field by hand or machine but it was evidently not as strong as the conventional PE mulch requiring the initial application process to be handled more carefully. After four weeks in the field in summer 2014 the biodegradable mulch was observed to start to degrade, most evidently on the sides of the bed. After 18 weeks, it had become broken into large pieces and could easily be torn by hand. In contrast, the silver/black PE mulch remained intact and strong.