Looking beyond traditional applications for paper, Stora Enso has recently developed a product for an entirely new market – mulch paper for vegetable growers.
Mulch paper protects the soil and effectively combats weeds. It is intended for large-scale cultivation, inside or outside of greenhouses. It keeps weeds at bay in fields containing annual crops such as lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, cabbage and celery.
“The mulch paper reduces the need for pesticides, increases growth, stabilises temperature differences in the soil and is totally biodegradable. Vegetable growers avoid having to spend time and energy removing plastic from the field when the season is over. After the harvest, the mulch paper is ploughed in and returned to nature,” says Dan Persson who works with innovation at Kvarnsveden Mill.
The mulch paper is made of spruce pulp and is the result of many years of cooperation between Kvarnsveden Mill and the Support Centre Mönchengladbach in Germany. It contains a higher share of kraft pulp so that the paper is stronger and has a longer term resistance to moisture. The mulch paper is coated with a natural black pigment which prevents the sunlight in reaching the soil and thereby stops unwanted vegetation. Existing equipment has been used for the manufacture of the mulch paper at Kvarnsveden and no reengineering was required.
This project has been part of the Paper division’s ongoing innovation work. “We endeavor to be a learning organisation that drives innovation, where all employees are involved in the development work. We have started improvement groups and cooperate internally as well as with universities and other organisations to identify new products,” says Dan Persson.