Biodegradable PBAT/PLA blend with bioactive MCPA-PHBV conjugate suppresses weed growth
The herbicide 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) conjugated with poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) was prepared via a melt transesterification route. The resultant bioactive oligomer was then mixed with a blend of polylactide (PLA) and poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT) with different loadings; to manufacture films to be used as a bioactive, biodegradable mulch to deliver the herbicide to target broadleaf weed species. The biological targeting of the MCPA-PHBV conjugate in the mulch film was investigated under glasshouse conditions using faba bean (Vicia faba) as a selective (non-target) model crop species having broadleaf morphology. The presence of the MCPA-PHBV conjugate in the biodegradable PBTA/PLA blend was shown to completely suppress the growth of broadleaf weed species, whilst displaying only a mild effect on the growth of the model crop. The degradation of the mulch film under glasshouse conditions was quite slow. The release of the MCPA-PHBV during this process was detected using NMR, GPC, EDS and DSC analyses, indicating that the majority of the MCPA diffused out after MCPA-PHBV conjugate bond scission. These data provide a strong ""proof of concept"" and show that this biodegradable, bioactive film is a good candidate for future field applications and may be of wide agricultural applicability.