The Characteristics of Non-Woven Fabric and Its Uses in Agriculture
- What is Woven and Non-Woven Fabrics?
- Non-Woven Industry Development
- Classification of Different Materials of Non-Woven Fabrics
- Applications of Non-Woven Fabrics in Agricultural Industry
- Difficulties in the application of non-woven fabrics in agriculture
- The Benefits of Non-Woven Fabrics Uses in Agriculture
What is Woven and Non-Woven Fabrics?
Non-woven fabrics are fabric-like material made from staple fibre and long fibre that have been bonded together using heat, chemical, or mechanical treatment. In general cases, woven fabrics are more durable and stronger than non-woven fabrics. There a quite a few non-woven materials and in non-woven industry, non-woven fabric uses are seen in many areas. They have a weaker barrier in production compared to woven fabric. Non-woven industry is growing and market is getting wider as it develops mature.
Non-Woven Industry Development
Non-woven fabric is a product of the petrochemical industry after the development of plastic cloth (membrane). Compared with plastic cloth (membrane), its characteristics are lightness and good ventilation. Its materials are mostly used in medical and sanitary materials and environmental protection, such as sanitary napkins, facial towels, and Filters, etc., which were later developed and applied in engineering such as process tubes. Agricultural origin non-woven fabrics are used in vegetable production to prevent cold damage.
The non-woven fabric is different from the general plastic film or cloth in its production process. The basic materials are almost the same raw materials, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PE (polyethylene), EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate copolymer), PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), and so on.
The traditional plastic film is formed into a thin film after the plastic is melted and inflated. Basically, the film is continuous. The material extends indefinitely. The surface of the film does not have any pores. It is a completely impermeable film. Block the movement and exchange of any molecules on both sides.
After the expansion of the textile industry, chemical fibers, that is, artificial fibers made from the above-mentioned raw materials replaced most natural plant fibers and became the darling of the textile industry. But basically, these chemical fibers are still formed into cloth through the traditional warp and weft weaving.
The so-called non-woven material is formed by intersecting the fibers on the same plane from various angles in all directions, instead of using traditional warp and weft methods. Compared with traditional woven fabrics, it has better material properties. At the same time, its production process can be done from raw materials to finished products in one go. The process of traditional weaving, drawing into fibers, and then weaving is saved, and the production cost is lower. In fact, non-woven fabrics have also been widely used in the apparel industry in recent years.
In recent years, due to the improvement of material science and the development of production technology, non-woven fabrics have become more diverse and used more and more widely. According to the characteristics of different materials, the products produced can be seen everywhere in our life. The development of non-woven fabrics in agriculture is mainly due to their lightness, simple operation, low cost, diversity, and wide range of applications.
Classification of Different Materials of Non-Woven Fabrics
- Long fiber non-woven fabric (with water repellency):
- Insulation promotes cultivation, winter, or early spring protection against cold and frost, insulation cultivation, can be used for most vegetables and fruit trees.
- Anti-insect and anti-bird, early sowing, or budding period, to avoid insect and bird damage. Or blocking pests during the growth period, while also evading the diseases transmitted by insects such as toxin diseases.
- Promote germination, keep warm to provide the temperature required for seed germination, or dark germinate seeds and shading treatment.
- Short fiber non-woven fabric (with water absorption):
- Absorbent blankets for water retention in the roots of the bottom of the seedbed, or potted plants to retain water. (Easy to move, because the roots do not grow into the soil).
- Weed suppression mats are used as border coverings or as protection for rhizosphere soil under large woody canopies. Because of their excellent water absorption and air permeability, they can directly exchange water and air in the soil with the atmosphere, which is excellent Covering with PE cloth can maintain soil activity.
- The bottom of the plant bed. Instead of traditional plastic planting, the rhizosphere of the plant has better water absorption, water permeability, and air permeability. Garden grasses are cultivated to prevent the rhizosphere from being mistakenly placed in the nursery, which is easy to dig and lay. In Japan, it is used to lay the bottom of the machine-transplanted seedling tray. The same reason is to avoid the roots from growing in the soil, which is conducive to the survival rate of transplantation.
- Cut fiber non-woven fabric:
- The non-woven fabric is mixed with the woven net, and the fiber density of the non-woven fabric is also low so that it has the net function of the woven net. Due to the complicated steps in the production process, the cost is higher than that of traditional non-woven fabric. Its function is used for heat preservation, shading and rainproof, insect proof, and windproof.
Applications of Non-Woven Fabrics in Agricultural Industry
Non-woven fabrics were applied to agriculture, and were first used in Europe in 1978 as carrots to keep warm for early harvesting and to prevent TYLCV and whitefly.
The United States has also promoted the application of non-woven fabrics in agriculture, such as cantaloupe, sweet peppers, tomatoes, root vegetables, carrots, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, and other mulching cultivation. It is mainly used for heat preservation, early harvest of cultivation, and insect control effect. Later, the difference in the properties of non-woven materials was used to cover the border surface, as a grass-proof mat, and to increase soil temperature and water retention. In addition, the water absorption of short fiber is also used to produce absorbent blankets, which are applied to the laying of nursery beds, so that the roots can fully absorb water. Or it can be used as the bottom medium for turf production, or even directly used as garden grassland for moisturizing, draining, and dividing the garden. There are also large woody plants such as garden trees and fruit trees in planting bags and container cultivation techniques. Or large trees such as fruit trees, the rhizosphere prevents weeds and moisturizes.
In Japan, non-woven fabrics are used in agriculture. In the past, greenhouse cultivation was based on how to control the environmental factors in the greenhouse. However, the floating cover of non-woven fabrics used clothes for plants as non-woven fabric applications.
The application situation in Taiwan: In addition to the above-mentioned functions, non-woven fabrics in foreign countries are directly used in crop cover production. After the oil energy crisis, in order to save energy, they are also widely used in the environmental control of large greenhouses. Such as double-layer covering and canopy curtains to reduce radiation and heat dissipation at night. In Taiwan’s domestic non-woven fabrics for agricultural applications, TAVIK, high-density spun-bonded non-woven fabrics were used in the early days to protect and shading cauliflower bulbs. Because of its high shading and excellent water repellency, easy operation, and high recyclability, it was quickly accepted by farmers. Several have been fully applied to cauliflower production. Its material also has low thermal conductivity. It does not absorb heat due to sunlight, so it can be used on an anniversary. Later, it was gradually applied to the heat preservation and insect-proof cultivation of leaf vegetables, and the shade and heat preservation cultivation of fruit trees and pineapples. However, due to Taiwan's special climate change and agricultural ecology, as well as the slow development of the non-woven industry, in this direction, although positive results have been obtained in research, it is difficult to make breakthroughs in a promotion. Recently, Taiwan non-woven fabric manufacturers continue to innovate non-woven technology, which has the characteristics of air permeability, water absorption, and water repellency of non-woven fabrics. For its use in the preservation and storage of agricultural products, it has strengthened its research and hopes that it will have a wider range of applications.
Difficulties in the application of non-woven fabrics in agriculture
- Crop object: Each crop has different plant types and physiological characteristics. It is important to choose materials and use methods according to the needs of the crop.
- Cultivation mode: In Taiwan's vegetable production, due to the variety of crops, the cultivation period is several years old, and the cultivation mode is also diversified. Therefore, how to effectively apply it will be a big test. At present, there are many successful examples of heat preservation in winter and less cover cultivation in the summer high-temperature period.
- How to apply:
- Application in the greenhouse: Consider its heat preservation, light transmittance, and weather resistance.
- Application of small tunnels: attention should be paid to wind resistance, light transmission, heat preservation, and air permeability.
- Open field cultivation: How to fix the floating cover to avoid being lifted by the wind, and the choice of crop types, etc. must be paid attention to.
- Selection of the beginning period of coverage: Depending on the purpose of coverage, appropriate consideration should be given to the period of coverage. Such as covering immediately after sowing in order to promote germination; or covering at the seedling stage; or after transplanting; or pre-harvesting treatment, all must be selected according to different cultivation purposes.
- iming of cover removal: According to the difference of different crops, cultivation modes, cultivation period, and meteorological conditions, the timing of cover removal should be properly judged, and the desired effect should also be considered. Therefore, when to remove the mulch before harvest, it needs to be judged according to its fertility.
- Covering period: When to cover and when to remove the time to judge, the purpose of coverage, crops, and weather conditions must be considered.
- Changes in weather during the coverage period: Meteorological conditions cannot be controlled artificially by covering with non-woven fabrics. Therefore, it is necessary to always pay attention to the changes of abnormal weather and the growth of crops.
- The control of pests and diseases: Basically covering non-woven fabrics tends to reduce the occurrence of pests and diseases. And this is based on the premise that there is no pathogenic bacteria or insect source before the coverage, otherwise, the environment within it will become the environment for its breeding and harm after the coverage.
The Benefits of Non-Woven Fabrics Uses in Agriculture
Non-woven fabric is a material with potential application in the agricultural industry, mainly in the convenience of use, and the effect is also good:
- Prevent bird damage: For vegetable seeds and crops that are prone to bird damage, floating cover can be used to prevent it.
- Anti-cold and frost damage: applied to crops and periods that are prone to cold damage and frost damage at low temperatures in winter, and the use of non-woven floating covers can effectively prevent them.
- Used for heat preservation of cover crops in winter to promote growth.
- To prevent pests, floating cover on vegetables can prevent or reduce pests.
- As a transplanting bowl for seedlings, it can be easily transported and improve the survival rate of seedlings.
- Prevent sunburn: Use on fruit trees to prevent sunburn caused by fruits.
- Preservation: In the post-harvest processing of garden products, it can be used to preserve the freshness of the products.
- Bagging: It can be used on fruit bagging to prevent pests, bird damage, heat preservation, and change fruit color.
There is a lot of room for development in the application of non-woven fabrics in agriculture. We should strengthen research from the development of its material characteristics, and according to different regions, seasonal weather characteristics, and the purpose of production and cultivation, we should make appropriate choices of covering materials in order to make the non-woven fabric exert its due effect.