Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 97–105 | Cite as

Potential Agricultural Mulch Films Based on Native and Phosphorylated Corn Starch With and Without Surface Functionalization with Chitosan

  • Danila MerinoEmail author
  • Tomy J. Gutiérrez
  • Vera A. Alvarez
Original Paper


In order to overcome the problem that represents the use of agricultural polyethylene-mulch films a bio-based and biodegradable alternative based on starch was proposed and evaluated. Starch phosphorylation followed by surface functionalization with chitosan was carried out in films made from corn (Zea mays) starch. The potential agricultural mulch films were manufactured from native and phosphorylated corn starch. The modification of the starch was made by means of two methodologies: wet chemistry by means of aqueous suspension method followed by extrusion and reactive extrusion in a single step. All film systems done were then obtained by thermo-molding. Thermal, barrier, mechanical and morphological characterization was carried out in order to evaluate the potential of these materials as agricultural mulches. The results suggested that the modification made on the starch and surface functionalization were not adequate to achieve the recommended properties for the agricultural usage. Phosphorylated starch films, however, showed adequate barrier and thermal properties, despite that their mechanical behavior still needs to be improved.


Crosslinking Plasticulture Reactive extrusion (REx) 



Authors acknowledge the help provided by B.S.Chem. Andres Torres Nicolini during the extrusion process.


This study was funded by the National Research Council (CONICET), the National University of Mar del Plata (UNMdP) and the National Agency of Scientific and Technological Promotion (ANPCyT), Nro 0008.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Mormile P, Stahl N, Malinconico M (2017) The world of plasticulture. Springer, Berlin, pp 1–21Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Briassoulis D (2006) Mechanical behaviour of biodegradable agricultural films under real field conditions. Polym Degrad Stab 91:1256–1272. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Briassoulis D, Hiskakis M, Babou E (2013) Technical specifications for mechanical recycling of agricultural plastic waste. Waste Manag 33:1516–1530. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Merino D, Mansilla AY, Casalongue C, Alvarez VA (2016) Propiedades fisicoquímicas y antibacteriales de mezclas PLA-Quitosano obtenidas por casting con potencial uso como acolchados agrícolas. Av Cienc Ing 7:27–39Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Finkenstadt VL, Tisserat B (2010) Poly(lactic acid) and Osage Orange wood fiber composites for agricultural mulch films. Ind Crops Prod 31:316–320. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ma Z, Ma Y, Qin L et al (2016) Preparation and characteristics of biodegradable mulching films based on fermentation industry wastes. Int Biodeterior Biodegradation 111:54–61. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Liling G, Di Z, Jiachao X et al (2016) Effects of ionic crosslinking on physical and mechanical properties of alginate mulching films. Carbohydr Polym 136:259–265. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Martín-Closas L, Costa J, Pelacho AM (2017) Agronomic effects of biodegradable films on crop and field environment. Springer, Berlin, pp 67–104Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Briassoulis D, Giannoulis A (2018) Evaluation of the functionality of bio-based plastic mulching films. Polym Test 67:99–109. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mitrus M (2010) TPS and its nature. In: Thermoplastic starch. Wiley, Weinheim, pp 77–104Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Seligra PG, Medina Jaramillo C, Famá L, Goyanes S (2016) Biodegradable and non-retrogradable eco-films based on starch–glycerol with citric acid as crosslinking agent. Carbohydr Polym 138:66–74. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Alvarez V, Guarás M, Gutiérrez TJ (2017) Reactive extrusion for the production of starch-based biopackaging. In: Biopackaging. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 308–336Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Scott G (1997) Abiotic control of polymer biodegradation. Trends Polym Sci 5:361–368Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Merino D, Mansilla AY, Gutiérrez TJ et al (2018) Chitosan coated-phosphorylated starch films: water interaction, transparency and antibacterial properties. React Funct Polym. Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Merino D, Casalongué C, Alvarez VA (2018) Polysaccharides as eco-nanomaterials for agricultural applications. In: Handbook of ecomaterials. Springer, Cham, pp 1–22Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    American Society for Testing and Materials (2002) ASTM E96-00e1 - Standard test methods for water vapor transmission of materials. ASTM International, West ConshohockenGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    ASTM D882-18 (2018) Standard test method for tensile properties of thin plastic sheetingGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gutiérrez TJ, Morales NJ, Pérez E et al (2015) Physico-chemical properties of edible films derived from native and phosphated cush-cush yam and cassava starches. Food Packag Shelf Life 3:1–8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Wilhelm HM, Sierakowski MR, Souza GP, Wypychc F (2003) Starch films reinforced with mineral clay. Carbohydr Polym 52:101–110. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gutiérrez TJ, Tapia MS, Pérez E, Famá L (2015) Structural and mechanical properties of edible films made from native and modified cush-cush yam and cassava starch. Food Hydrocoll 45:211–217. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Li G, Zeng J, Gao H, Li X (2011) Characterization of phosphate monoester resistant starch. Int J Food Prop 14:978–987. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Landerito NA, Wang Y-J (2005) Preparation and properties of starch phosphates using waxy, common, and high-amylose corn starches. I. Oven-heating method. Cereal Chem J 82:264–270. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Landerito NA, Wang Y-J (2005) Preparation and properties of starch phosphates using waxy, common, and high-amylose corn starches. II. Reactive extrusion method. Cereal Chem J 82:271–276. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gutiérrez TJ, Morales NJ, Tapia MS et al (2015) Corn starch 80:20 “waxy”: regular, “native” and phosphated, as bio-matrixes for edible films. Procedia Mater Sci 8:304–310. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Niazi MBK, Broekhuis AA (2015) Surface photo-crosslinking of plasticized thermoplastic starch films. Eur Polym J 64:229–243. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Galicia-García T, Martínez-Bustos F, Jiménez-Arevalo O et al (2011) Thermal and microstructural characterization of biodegradable films prepared by extrusion–calendering process. Carbohydr Polym 83:354–361. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Muhrbeck P, Svensson E, Eliasson A-C (1991) Effect of the degree of phosphorylation on the crystallinity of native potato starch. Starch–Stärke 43:466–468. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Colivet J, Carvalho RA (2017) Hydrophilicity and physicochemical properties of chemically modified cassava starch films. Ind Crops Prod 95:599–607. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Chakraborty D, Nagarajan S, Aggarwal P et al (2008) Effect of mulching on soil and plant water status, and the growth and yield of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in a semi-arid environment. Agric Water Manag 95:1323–1334. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Zhao H, Wang R-Y, Ma B-L et al (2014) Ridge-furrow with full plastic film mulching improves water use efficiency and tuber yields of potato in a semiarid rainfed ecosystem. Field Crops Res 161:137–148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Steinmetz Z, Wollmann C, Schaefer M et al (2016) Plastic mulching in agriculture. Trading short-term agronomic benefits for long-term soil degradation? Sci Total Environ 550:690–705. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Wortman SE, Kadoma I, Crandall MD (2015) Assessing the potential for spunbond, nonwoven biodegradable fabric as mulches for tomato and bell pepper crops. Sci Hortic 193:209–217. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Briassoulis D (2004) An overview on the mechanical behaviour of biodegradable agricultural films. J Polym Environ 12:65–81. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Sanyang M, Sapuan S, Jawaid M et al (2015) Effect of plasticizer type and concentration on tensile, thermal and barrier properties of biodegradable films based on sugar palm (Arenga pinnata) starch. Polymers 7:1106–1124. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Schmitt H, Guidez A, Prashantha K et al (2015) Studies on the effect of storage time and plasticizers on the structural variations in thermoplastic starch. Carbohydr Polym 115:364–372. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grupo de Materiales Compuestos Termoplásticos (CoMP), Facultad de Ingeniería, Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencia y Tecnología de Materiales (INTEMA)Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (UNMdP) y Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Mar del PlataArgentina

Personalised recommendations