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Journal of Cleaner Production
Volume 337, 2022, 130588

Paddy straw-based biodegradable horticultural pots: An integrated greener approach to reduce plastic waste, valorize paddy straw and improve plant health

Pratibhaa, Sampa Sahab, Hariprasad Pa

Centre for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India.

Abstract

In the present study, we investigated the possible use of Paddy straw (PS) to develop biodegradable pots for the cultivation of transplantable horticulture crops, as alternative to plastic pots. To prepare biodegradable pots, six different Biocomposites (BCs) were developed using PS (untreated and treated) as filler, corn starch (native and cross-linked) as matrix and glycerol as a plasticizer. All the six BCs were characterized on the basis of various parameters (water uptake, mechanical strength, porosity, density, etc.). Biodegradability of all the six BCs was established under lab (in vitro CO2 emission assay) and field condition (weight loss assay), which was further validated through SEM and FTIR analysis. Under in vitro conditions, none of the BCs was found antimicrobial. Among the six BCs, pots prepared from BC3, BC4, BC5, and BC6 were found physically stable for up to 28–30 days under greenhouse conditions. The plant growth variables of cucumber plant grown in these pots were equivalent to those grown in plastic pots. However, considering the ease of preparation, only BC3 and BC4 were selected for field studies. When BC3 and BC4 pots along with 30-day old cucumber plants were transplanted to fields, both the pots have shown disintegration and degradation within 10–20 days after transplantation, facilitating the penetration of roots out of the pots. Further, plants were found to be healthy and morphologically equivalent to those grown in plastic pots. In the background of rising concern about plastic waste, agro residue burning and their effect on the environment and human health in the long run, these biodegradable pots open a new path to reduce, reuse and recycle responsibly. Fuss-free transplantation is another resounding benefit associated with these pots. In future, these biodegradable pots may provide better opportunity to manage PS ecofriendly.

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