Extending The World's Food Supply
In an increasingly hungry world with a growing population, plastics play an important role in conserving soil and maximizing food production.
Plastic netting is used to protect crops from birds and to consolidate soil preventing serious erosion.
Plastics are widely used in agriculture -- as bale wrap to protect harvested hay from weather damage; as wind breakers; as row covers to protect crops from frost; as insulation in livestock buildings; and for fencing and irrigation systems for the fields. Plastic has replaced glass in greenhouse construction.
Because they are so highly versatile, plastics can be used to compensate for climatic challenges to crop production. Plastic mulches help suppress weeds, keep soil warm and help conserve water. Crops grow through slits in the mulch. The mulches are used to keep soil cooler as needed by reflecting sunlight. Dark mulches, on the other hand, intercept light to warm the soil, facilitating faster plant growth. The results are improved crop quality and quantity.
Plastics also play a critical role in preventing food waste. There is 26 percent more waste with loosely packed fruits and vegetables than with produce that is pre-packaged in plastics. For example – a cucumber’s shelf-life can be extended from three to 14 days just by using 1.5 grams of plastic film.