2022 journal article
Novel 3-D Spacer Textiles to Protect Crops from Insect Infestation and That Enhance Plant Growth
Pesticide-free, 3-D, spacer fabrics (Plant Armor Generation (PA Gen) 1 and 2) were investigated for proof-of-concept as an insect barrier to protect plants and improve plant agronomics for organic farming. The time to 50% penetration (TP50) for tobacco thrips, Frankliniella fusca (Hinds) adults in laboratory Petri dish bioassays was 30 and 175 min for PA Gen 1 and 2, respectively, and 12 min for the control (a commercially available, single layer-crop cover, Proteknet). PA Gen 2 was ≥90% resistant to penetration of unfed caterpillar neonates, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), while the TP50‘s for Gen 1 and Proteknet were 3.1 and 2.35 h, respectively. In small cage studies, PA Gen 2 covered potted cabbage plants were 100% resistant to penetration by these insects through 10 d after which the study was ended. In small field plot studies for 3 summer months, cabbage plants grew approximately twice as fast when covered versus not covered with Gen 1 and Gen 2 without the need for insecticides or herbicides. This was not observed for the control crop cover. Martindale abrasion tests demonstrated Gen 1 and 2 were at least 6- and 1.8-fold more durable than the control crop cover used. Data are also presented on percentage light, water, air, and water vapor penetration across each textile and operational temperatures and humidity for cabbage plants covered and uncovered in small field plots.