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Keeping out tobacco thrips

3D crop cover knitted using clear yarns proves highly effective at providing protection from insects.

26th April 2022

Knitting Industry
 |  North Carolina, USA

Technical Textiles

Plant Armor, developed at North Carolina State University, could provide a more effective, chemical-free alternative to plant protection by forcing insects to navigate a maze-like path as they try to reach a plant.

Previously, plant covers have been designed to exclude insects based on size alone, which is insufficient for keeping out insects as small as tobacco thrips, which are about the size of a pencil point.

“To exclude insects that are really small using traditional textile cover designs, the size of the openings would have to be so small that it would also prevent water, air and moisture from penetrating,” said the study’s senior researcher Mike Roe, professor of entomology at NC State. “We had to come up with another way of excluding the insects other than just based on pore size.”

The researchers designed a three-layer knitted fabric using clear yarns in the outermost and innermost layers. The yarn, which can be made from recycled plastic, still allows sunlight to pass through, but restricts insects from reaching plants. A knitted inner layer is sandwiched perpendicular to the two surrounding layers, creating a maze-like structure.

Read the full story on Innovation in Textiles

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