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We were very pleased to share an overview of the MINAGRIS project at the recent World Congress of Soil Science, with an audience of around 300. The presentation was given by Dr Charlotte Chivers, who is part of our dissemination and exploitation team. Download the slides here

A new publication in Agricultural Systems, including several authors from the MINAGRIS team, has found that there is high contamination of microplastics, and there are different sources and concentrations which vary according to the type of land- management. It is, therefore, important to understand the different processes which take place in microplastics dispersion in the agricultural systems.

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The impacts of plastic debris on soil health are largely unknown despite equal, or possibly greater, amounts of plastics entering soils as are reaching our rivers, seas, and oceans1. MINAGRIS, an EU-funded project which launches today, will explore how plastic debris is affecting soil biodiversity, soil functions, related ecosystem services, and agricultural productivity.

 MINAGRIS, over the next 5 years, will explore the impacts of plastic debris on agricultural soil health. This blog explains what plastics are, the extent to which they are used in agriculture across Europe, and the potential environmental health threats posed by plastic debris in soil.

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Photo credits: Plastics Europe, Wageningen Food & Biobased research, Tuinadvies, Kalliergeia, Future Farming, Teal Agrotechnologies


What are plastics?

Plastics consist of one or more polymer types. Polymers are chains of molecules, usually containing carbon. These polymers can be fossil-based or biobased. Fossil-based plastics are typically made from petroleum, whilst biobased plastics are made entirely, or partially, from renewable plant-based products including vegetable oils, corn starch, and even sawdust. You can learn more about biobased plastics via the European bioplastics website and this booklet.

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 Picture source: European bioplastics  

 Plastic mulches are used to control weeds, for temperature control,

and to prevent moisture loss (picture credit: MINAGRIS project)