Background information
Plastic use provides many benefit to agriculture but lead to plastic contamination in the fields in variable contents. Additionally, plastic contamination comes from hidden sources such as the use of previously contaminated organic fertilizers. Micro- and nano-plastics (MNP) that are derived from different plastic are small enough to be ingested by a wide range of organisms and at nano-scale, they can cross biological barriers and enter plants systems.

This emerging threat has prompted first studies that confirmed the high potential of MP to accumulate in soils and cause changes in physico-chemical soil properties, thereby also altering soil functions such as soil water dynamics and ultimately affecting related ecosystem services (ESS) like nutrient cycling, plant growth and soil biodiversity, which have unknown/unmeasured impacts on the economy of the farm. These effects could be magnified when MP occur in combination with other soil pollutants, such as pesticides and veterinary drugs, or plastic additives (e.g. dyes), potentially exhibiting unforeseen synergistic effects.

Therefore, Minagris aims to develop a better understanding of any potentially harmful impacts of plastic debris to soil biodiversity, soil functions, related ecosystem services and agricultural productivity at the field level and related socio-economic consequences at farm level.

Approach

MINAGRIS is based on a multi-actor approach to engage stakeholders and identify needs, improving farmer and citizen awareness, joint development of novel strategies for reducing plastic contamination.

Project objectives

The overall aim of MINAGRIS is to contribute to healthy soils in Europe by providing a deeper understanding and
tools to assess the impact of MP and NP in agricultural soils on biodiversity, plant productivity and ecosystem
services and their disaggregation fate in the environment and provide recommendations for sustainable use of plastic
in agriculture at the farm and field levels for ensuring safe and economically viable food systems in Europe.

• Establish a comprehensive overview of plastic (un)intentional use and the resulting MNP concentrations in soils through monitoring in 11 carefully chosen Case-Study Sites (CSS) across Europe (WP3)
• Co-create a harmonized and standardized methodology for coherent analysis of the use and fate of plastics and the impact of MNP on European agriculture (WP2, WP3)
• Build a strong multi-actor approach (MAA) involving a large community of relevant stakeholders that will guarantee and enable a robust assessment of the impact of MNP on agricultural soils with direct impact on policy and EU regulatory frameworks (WP2)
• Assess the impact of MNP on soil biodiversity (WP4), physical and chemical soil properties (WP5) agricultural productivity (WP5) and related ESS (WP7)
• Assess the impact of MNP, in interaction with pesticides, veterinary drugs and additives on soil biodiversity (WP4), soil physics and chemistry (WP5), agricultural productivity (WP5) and related ESS (WP7).
• Determine the contribution of different processes to the disaggregation and degradation of plastics in agricultural soils and to the transportation of MNP to other environmental compartments (WP5, WP6)
• Identify benefits and risks linked to various un-/intentional uses of plastics in agricultural production across Europe in an overall sustainability analysis (WP7)
• Inform a large audience of stakeholders and the wider public on the new knowledge produced by MINAGRIS on environmental and socio-economic impacts of MNP ensuring maximum impact of MINAGRIS in decision-making, policymaking, and innovation concerning the use of plastics in agriculture (WP8)
• Provide farmers with operational knowledge and tools to assess their MNP exposure, and support them in adopting sustainable agricultural practices in an informed manner (WP3, WP7 and WP8)