Optimal light management, excellent mechanical properties, and very high sulphur resistance are the standards the new RKW Hyplast greenhouse film needs to meet. “It was quite the challenge, but we succeeded. Our new film‘Grafeno’ has become a high quality and pollination-friendly film”, says Tom de Smedt, export manager at RKW Hyplast.
He received multiple requests from the market about the development of a new film. To develop a quality cover film, there are a few factors you need to take into account. Tom explains: “Light transmission is important in greenhouse cover films, as well as the product's lifespan. UV radiation causes synthetic materials to degrade. You try to prevent this and expand the lifespan as much as possible. Chemicals such as sulphur and chlorine also negatively impact the lifespan of the foil.”
“At RKW Hyplast, we are always working on increasing the products' lifespan. We try to make our cover films resistant to UV radiation and chemicals. In Spain, they use a lot of sulphur. The requests to develop a sulphur resistant film mainly came from there.”
“Good pollination from day one”
The Grafeno film has been on the commercial market since last year and was received well straight away. “What makes the film special is the fact that it is not a product that helps with either this or that, but one that helps with both this and that. For the first time, we see a cover film with a good UV transmission (important for bees and bumblebees), and a good light transmission in the PAR, and a high sulphur resistance. The result of which is the possibility of good insect pollination from day one”, says Tom.
With the introduction of Grafeno, things have become a lot easier for growers. Tom: “Cover film costs a lot of money. Growers had to choose what they found important. Do they want a lot of light transmission or a higher sulphur resistance? Now they don’t have to make that choice anymore.”
“We also discovered a different unique property of the Grafeno film by accident. When the cover film is installed, it lets more light through than other films. The film becomes clearer when it is dark outside and allows more light to come through. Customers looked at the profits after installation, and it turns out they increased. We work closely together with Wageningen University and tested multiple factors to see how this is possible. The tests showed that the Grafeno film reflects 3% less light in realistic circumstances.
The market for Grafeno is mainly located in Spain now. “The product will mainly be sold in countries where a lot of sulphur is used and where insect pollination is needed. We expect these markets to have the highest demand for the product. However, the film is available to everyone, and we can offer custom made solutions from RKW Hyplast”, says Tom.
“I miss the personal contact”
RKW Hyplast offers a lot of custom made solutions. “In order to offer the right solutions, contact with customers is very important, but due to the current corona crisis, this is unfortunately impossible. I miss the personal contact, but we try and find a good solution to it. Through Skype and Zoom, we help our customers as best as possible, which is, fortunately, working out fine. However, I do secretly hope that I will be able to visit our customers in person again soon”, Tom concludes.