Poly bags are much utilized in the process of the seedbed of many types of plants, ranging from agricultural crops, plantation, to plant forestry. Along with the growing number of needs for the use of poly bags, the issue on abundant waste of plastic has risen. Poly bags are made of plastic waste which is very difficult to unravel by microbes in the soil, causing much bigger land pollution. Currently, there is a wide range of efforts to reduce the use of poly bags, one of which is by using organic pots. Organic material are those which can be degraded, such as straw because it contains cellulose and lignin.
A team of Yogyakarta State University students from Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences innovated to make an organic poly bag. The team consisted of Shinta Pramudyasiwi, Asti Dian Arini and Fitri Handayani from Chemical Education study program, Lailatul Fitriyah from Biology Education study program, and Risma Widayati from Physics study program. They developed a biodegradable pot of waste straw with extra Leucaena leaf (Leucaena leucocephala) and manure from goat dung.
Shinta Pramudyasiwi as the team leader argued that straw is agricultural waste that has not been exploited to its fullest potential and the numbers are fairly large. "The largest component of rice straw is cellulose that can form a strong bond between molecules" said Shinta. "Furthermore, high cellulose content of straw makes the material potential as raw material for producing biodegradable pots". In addition, straw contains an important organic material, binding the primary soil granules into the secondary soil granules to form firm soil aggregates.
Asti Dian Arini added that poly bags that are generally made of plastic have a few weaknesses; one of them is we need to tear the poly bag when transplanting is done, so it is less practical because of the extra work. "Moreover, the material is not easy to degrade by microbes, that would inhibit the growth of plants and cause soil pollution" said Asti.
According to Laylat Fitriyah, the biodegradable pots are not just made from straw waste, but an extra leaf Leucaena and manure are also given. "Leucaena leucocephala leaf contains natural tannin, polyphenols and currently are used as exterior type adhesives that are mainly found in celluloses" said Laylat Fitriyah. Tannin is soluble in water or alcohol because it contains phenol that has OH cluster, can bind heavy metals, and has anti termite and fungi substances. Meanwhile, the manure contains macro elements such as nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K), and other elements such as micro-calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn) required by the plants in maintaining the balance of nutrients in the soil and to store food for the plants. Therefore, manure is potential to be utilized as a supplementary material of making pots.
The pot is expected to be beneficial to increase the economic value of straw waste as an environmentally friendly alternative to reduce environmental pollution from plastic waste of poly bag. This work was granted fund from Indonesian Directorate General of Higher Education in the Student Creativity Program (PKM) year 2016. (dedy)