Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate Copolymer (EVA)
EVA copolymer is used for a variety of applications outside of agriculture, such as soccer cleats and pool noodles. As an agricultural plastic, it is often seen as the thin film used to cover high and low tunnels, shielding the crops inside from the elements while still providing plenty of nourishing sunlight. Although it is thin enough to be translucent, EVA has great low-temperature properties and is fairly tough. Using it for high and low tunnels gives farmers an easy and affordable way to extend their growing season.
Unlike the fragrant organic mixture most people are accustomed to, plastic mulch is actually just a layer of film placed over the rows where crops have been planted. It serves a similar purpose, helping to control moisture evaporation and weed growth, and allows the crops to grow through holes cut into the material. Polyethylene is ideal for this purpose because of its strength, flexibility and affordability. This farm plastic is generally single-use, but there are many methods for recycling polyethylene to help limit its impact as a waste material.
For applications that require a greater level of strength, polycarbonate is the agricultural plastic farmers turn to. At up to 250 times stronger than glass, it's an ideal substitute for traditional greenhouse glazing. Polycarbonate is also crystal clear and comes in UV-transmitting and UV-filtering varieties to ensure that seedlings and full-grown crops receive the optimal amount of sunlight. Using polycarbonate for a greenhouse is one way that plasticulture is helping support year-round crop growth by providing a safe haven from the elements.
Polypropylene is used for everything from kitchen utensils to area rugs — it's one of the most versatile plastics out there! Versatility is also what makes it valuable in the realm of ag plastics, where it's most commonly used for applications requiring water resistant materials. One example would be the bulk bags used to store and transport crops, such as silage for keeping livestock feed fresh throughout winter. Polypropylene also protects materials from sun damage and changes in temperature and humidity thanks to its airtight seal.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
A proper water supply is critical to the success of a farming operation, big or small. The most common use of PVC, especially as a farm plastic, is for irrigation piping systems and reservoirs that manage water flow and supply. PVC is ideal for the job since it is corrosion resistant and doesn't spring leaks easily. Staying strong and in one piece is critical to avoiding wasted water that could impact crop growth — an extremely important feature to have in environments that are dry or prone to droughts.