Textiles Used in Modern Agriculture to Smart Farming

Textiles Used in Modern Agriculture to Smart Farming
Amirsuhel Desai
D.K.T.E’s Textile and Engineering Institute,
Ichalkaranji, India
Email: amirdesai78@gmail.com

Agriculture is the primary source of food in India as well as world. Due to increase in industrialization and urbanization area of farming is reduced and use of chemicals on crop for higher yield has adverse effect on human being. So researcher was thinking about more yield crop by keeping harmful effect of chemical away which introduced modernization in agriculture which possible by agrotextile. Agrotextile is the branch of technical textile which includes study of textiles material used in agriculture which helps to achieve higher yield with human safety. Need of textile goods in field of agriculture has been stressed and their role in reduced usages of harmful pesticides and herbicides to render healthy farming culture. According to market survey done by jute industry and ministry of textiles agrotech segment growing at rate of 20% which can achieve US $340 million business by 2016-17.

Agrotextile include use of plant net, wind shield, root ball net, insect meshes, weed control fabric, net and ground cover made of polyolefin as well as jute, wool fibers. All this above mentioned are used in conventional farming to improve yield but newest farming technology is VERTICAL FARMING and PLANTAGON FARMING which is more promising area in future agriculture. So agrotextile has seeing toward that to make such material which will help to such newest technology.

Keywords:- Agro product, Vertical Farming, Plantagon Farming.

Agro technical textiles are used in farming, animal husbandry and horticulture to control the hazardous influences of environmental and climactic factors on crop production and cattle breeding, regulate nutrient level intake of plants, and assist in process and post-harvest operations. Agrotextiles, in the form of nets, ropes and lines, have also been used extensively in the fishing industry. Agrotextiles have been demonstrated to be successful over the world in not only protecting the crops from any external factors, but also in improving agricultural yield. Given the importance of agriculture to the Indian economy and population, the need and potential application of agrotextiles in the country is significant and vast. In the era of modernizing agriculture for high production, boost to agriculture will not be possible without increasing involvement of agro-textiles. These textiles are driving the sector profitably by improving the productivity and reducing the need for chemicals.

Plantagon and vertical spinning are the two modern methods of agriculture where latest textiles product are required. These methods have great advantage in agriculture field as it required less space, less water, no chemicals and has direct selling to customer. So there is bright future in developing the new material to such technology.

History of agro textile:-
India is agricultural country from ancient days. Farming is the primary source of India and Textiles is the secondary source of India. So use of textiles in agricultural is not new invention. It had been using from centuries to protect and improve crop in farming.

Textile fabrics have a long history of use in agro-tech sectors to protect, gather and store products. Between the 18th century and the end of the 19th century, agricultural development was occurred, which saw a massive and rapid increase in agricultural productivity and vast improvements in farm technology. From then, Textiles have always been used extensively in the course of food production, most notably by the fishing industry in the form of nets, ropes and lines but also by agriculture and horticulture for a variety of covering and protection.

Need of agrotextiles:-
  • Prevent the soil from drying out increase crop yield.
  • Protect farmer from harmful pesticides.
  • Improve product quality.
  • Save energy in field as possible as.
  • Prevents staining and improves product quality.
  • Thermal protection to farm and farmer too.
  • Prevent insect contact with food or crop.
  • Reduce workers and work load.
Fiber of used in agrotextiles: [5]
Agrotextiles product are made from natural as well as manmade fiber, maximum manmade are used due to good durability property. Manmade fiber like nylon, polyester, polyethylene, polyolefin, polypropylene are used. Natural fiber like jute and wool are used . Natural fiber are has another advantage that it act as a fertilizer after degradation of product.

Though man-made fibers (like poly-olefins) are preferred for agro-textiles than the natural fibers mainly due to their favorable price performance ratio, light weight with high strength and long service life, but natural fibers can be used in agro-textiles in some specific arena where characteristics like high moisture retention, wet strength, biodegradability are effectively exploited.

Mostly used fibers are as listed below;
  1. Nylon
  2. Polyester
  3. Polyethylene
  4. Polyolefin
  5. Polypropylene
  6. Jute
  7. Wool
  8. Coir
  9. Flax
  10. Sisal
  11. Hemp
Properties required for agrotextile product:-

1. Tensile Strength:
The tensile strength of shade nets can be a deciding factor of its long term durability and service life. Hence good tensile strength is necessary parameter for shade nets.

2. Withstands solar radiation:
Agro textiles are laid over the cultivated areas immediately after sowing or planting. For such application Agro-textiles has to withstand solar radiation with varying surrounding temperature.

3. Withstands ultraviolet radiation:
The Non visible radiations include ultraviolet radiations (UV) radiation leads to degradation of molecular chains..polypropylene and polyester are more resistant to UV radiations when used as an outdoor material, polyethylene is treated with the appropriate UV stabilizers. Potential to reduce the impact of UV radiation on plants by light absorbing or light‐reflecting non-woven (light permeability: 80 to 90% to allow photosynthesis to take place).

4. Bio degradability:
Natural fibers like wool, jute, cotton are also used where the bio-degradability of product is essential. Natural polymer gives the advantage of bio-degradation but has low service life when compared to the synthetics.

5. Abrasion Resistance:
The abrasion to which a shade net is subjected may be of the material itself (material to material) or stray animals .abrasion of the shade net would result in holes though which animals and pests could enter the structure and harm the crops .good abrasion resistance is required of shade nets.

6. High potential to retain water:
This is achieved by means of fiber materials which allow taking in much water and by filling in super-absorbers. While non-woven meant for the covering of plants show a mass per unit area of 15 to 60 gm./m2, values between 100 and 500 g/m2 are reached with materials for use on embankments and slopes.

7. Protection property:
It must have the properties of protection from wind and creation of a micro‐climate between the ground and the non-woven, which results in temperature and humidity being balanced out. At the same time, temperatures in the root area rise. This is what causes earlier harvests, sufficient stiffness, flexibility, evenness, elasticity, biodegradability, dimensional stability and resistance to wetness. Fungicidal finish (up to 2% of the total mass), which avoids soil contamination.

8. Resistance to microorganisms:
It must resistant to microorganism to protect the living being.

9. Stable construction:
The construction must be such that it must be stable for any application.

10. Lightweight:
The weight of the fabric should be such that it will bare by the plant.

Production method for agrotextiles:- [6]
The following methods are adopted to manufacture the Agro -textile products

1. Weaving and woven products:
Woven products are manufactured by using weaving machines especially Sulzer projectile weaving machines. The range of light to heavy and wide width fabric production is possible with Sulzer projectile weaving machine. The machines with weaving width of 540 cm to 846 cm are available for the production of agro-textiles. The nets with a mesh width of 1.8 mm to 40 mm can be produced. Other methods of fabric manufacturing such as air-jet and rapier weaving machines are not preferred for the manufacture of such fabrics as they do not have required weaving width.

2. Knitting:
Warp knitting technique is most widely used in comparison to weft knitting. Warp knitted protective nets are used in different sectors, which are produced on Raschel machines. Agronets are produced in various constructions.

3. Nonwovens
Nonwoven fabrics can be manufactured by various techniques such as:-
  • Needle Punching,
  • Spun Bonding,
  • Thermal Bonding,
  • Spun lacing, Etc.
  • Spun bonding and needle punching techniques are widely used for the production of nonwoven agro textiles.
Agrotextile Product:- [1] 
Following are the example for some textile product;

1. Sunscreen (Shade net):

The Warp-knitted nets are used in order to protect fields and greenhouses from the intense solar radiation for healthy plant growth and good harvest. Sunscreen nets with open mesh construction are used to control sunshine and amount of shade required. These net fabrics allow the air to flow freely. So the excess heat does not built up under the screen. The percentage of shadow varies according to the density of threads. The current offer 45%, 65% & approximately 85% shadow.

2. Bird protection nets:
Knitted monofilament nets (Open knitted nets for crop protection) offer effective passive protection of seeds, crops and fruit against damage caused by birds and a variety of pests. Open‐mesh net fabrics are used as a means of protecting fruit plantation. The special open structure repels birds, provides minimal shading and excellent air circulation ‐ allowing plants to flourish, whilst avoiding the risk of dangerous mold developing on the fruit. The use of polyethylene tape yarns or mono filament yarns makes the net extremely durable and hard-wearing.

3. Plant net:
Fruits, which grow close to the ground, can be kept away from the damp soil by allowing them to grow through vertical or tiered nets in order to keep the amount of decayed fruit to a minimum. These are made from polyolefin type of fiber.

4. Ground cover:
Ground cover is an extremely versatile landscaping and horticultural fabric for long‐term weed control, moisture conservation and separation. Ground covers can reduce the costs and minimizes undesirable herbicide use. It is mainly used in Borders & rockeries, nursery display areas, greenhouse floors, soft fruits beds & orchards, paved areas, horse bridleways & seed harvesting areas. 100% polypropylene is used.

5. Windshield:
Windshields are used in farming to protect fields of young plants, fruits, trees or the harvest from being damaged by the wind. Erecting wind-breaks at right angles protects the young seedlings and the mature plants from dying out and being broken. The nets used here reduce the effects of high winds and even help to keep out airborne sand and salt in areas close to the sea. Protecting plants from high winds also encourages plant growth and reduces the number of irrigation cycles required. It also prevents plants being cooled by wind too.

6. Root ball net:
It is extremely important for safe and speedy growing of young plants such that root system is not damaged when they are dug up, transported or replanted. Normally the root balls are wrapped in cloth. Elastic net tubes are alternative to this. When the plants are transplanted, the nets on the outside do not have to be removed since the roots can protrude through the nets.

7. Insect meshes:
Various pests like Whitefly, scale insects attack some ornamental plants and vegetables frequently. Clearly, woven and knitted polyethylene monofilament meshes to exclude harmful insects from greenhouses and tunnels, or to keep pollinating insects inside, The fine woven screens protect plants from insect attack (without the use of insecticides).

8. Mulch mat:
Mulch mats are used to suppress weed growth in horticulture applications, It covers the soil, blocking of light and preventing the competitive wheat growth around seed links, This also reduces the need for herbicides required for weed control Needle punched non-woven and black plastic sheet are used for this application, Bio degradable and non‐biodegradable types of mulch mats are available.

9. Monofil nets:
Tough, knitted Monofil, nets for windbreak fences and shading/ privacy screens, A suitable windbreak, set at a right‐angle to the prevailing wind, will protect plants against the harmful effects of blustery weather ‐ which can break young branches, damage flowers and cause leaves to dry or tear. The nets also protect against frosts and help enhance the micro‐climate. This not only safeguards the current harvest but also benefits future crops, since the woody part of the plant are protected too.

10. Cold and frost control fabrics:
Cold and frost fabric can be laid directly on the plants, unlike plastic covers that can attract frost, and burn any leaf that touches them. These fabrics protect the plant from frost kill during unexpected late cold snaps and unexpected early ones.

11. Nets for covering pallets:
For safe transportation of fruits and vegetables to the market the boxes are covered with large mesh nets and pallets to stop the boxes being turned upside down. This prevents damage of goods during transportation.

12. Anti-hailstone nets:
Anti-hailstone nets are used to cover plants and fruit orchards to protect them from being damaged by hailstones, but does not restrict their growth. The nets are primarily made from polyethylene monofilaments.

13. Harvesting net:
It is extremely helpful to those countries where labor charges are costlier. With the application of such nets for harvesting purpose, the labor cost could be reduced considerably. They are laid on ground or tied under the trees so that fruits fall directly on to them.

14. Packing materials for agricultural products:
Nets can be used for packaging of farm products for many end uses. It includes packing sacks for vegetables, tubular packing nets for fruits and wrappers for Christmas trees, Net structures are preferred because of their high strength, low weight, air permeability and cheapness.

Agrotextiles used in Vertical farming:- [3]
Vertical farming is the modern technology of farming where crops are grown inside the skyscraper without use of soil. The modern ideas of vertical farming use indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture technology, where all environmental factors can be controlled. These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control (humidity, temperature, gases.) and fertigation.

Vertical farming
Fig: Vertical farming
Agrotextiles used in this field plays vital role in improving yield and production in vertical farming. This skyscraper made up off glass or polycarbonate sheets which allow sunlight inside and avoid harmful rays to enter in farm. Structure of skyscraper is either of bamboo sticks or steel material. Inside the farm there is steps inside it where nonwoven material are used instead of soil.

Use of nonwoven instead of soil is the most innovative idea comes in agriculture. Use of this method provides good circulation of air, sufficient amount of water due to absorbent and no requirement of herbicides or pesticides.

Agrotextile used in Plantagon:- [4]
Plantagon is the next generation of vertical farming. In vertical farming is unable to get sunlight at the middle of steps crops. Plantgon has circular shapes which provide sunlight to each and every plant. In this system soil is not used PUMICE is used mainly because it has a beneficial capillary effect and can be used for several years within the greenhouse system. Pumice is a volcanic rock and the result from the cooling of volcanic lava in water. It has good air porosity that can absorb nutrients. Glass material used on plantagon is uv protected. According to growth cycle of plant logistic system is developed. Other packaging textiles are used for packing and transferring agroproduct. Use of nonwoven sheet as a soil reduce use of weed control net or multch net too.

Agro textile used in Plantagon
Fig: Agro textile used in Plantagon
Agriculture has been facet moving in hand to hand with textiles. Summing up both these field together has benefited the human race in a diversified manner. As there are various applications of agrotextiles such as improvement in the yield, protection from UV light, protection from storms, weed control. New technologies have came up that provide better packaging to agro products and new ideas such as plantagon will prove as a boom in this sector which is not possible without textiles. The future scope of market growth in this sector for our country is great over the coming years. This will enhance the economy as provide a support for better quality in our products.

References :-

  1. [1] Mr. Sunil. K. Agrawal, APPLICATION OF TEXTILE IN AGRICULTURE International Journal Of Advance Research In Science And Engineering IJARSE, Vol. No.2, Issue No.7, July, 2013 ISSN-2319-8354(E).
  2. [2] Burkness, S. and J. Hahn. 2007. Flea Beetles in Home Gardens. University of Minnesota Extension Publication M1210, http://www.extension.umn.edu/ distribution/horticulture/components/M1210.pdf.
  3. [3]URBAN AGRICULTURE STRATEGY MEETING Drivers for sustainable urban food production 28 May 2014, Bonn/ Germany Outline and program as of 26 May 2014
  4. [4] The Plantagon greenhouseJuly 2011Plantagon International AB • Rålambsvägen 17, floor 22 • 112 59 Stockholm • Sweden • www.plantagon.comreviwed at 2017.
  5. [5] RumaChakrabarti, K Gowri and R.Senthil Kumar: Agro Textiles - A Review, Fibre2Fashion, January 17, 2011, URL:http://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/32/3158/agro-textiles-a-review1.asp.
  6. [6] SankheManoj, R S Chitnis: Textile Structures and their Application in Agriculture, The Indian Textile Journal, Vol CXIII, No 3, December (2002).
You may also like:
  1. Applications of Agro-Textiles | Manufacturing Processes of Agro Textiles
  2. Agro Textile Products and Their Properties
  3. Agro Textiles | General Property Requirement of Agrotextiles | Fibers Used for Agro-Textiles | Application of Agro Textiles
  4. Major Classifications/Branches of Technical Textiles
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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