A laboratory comparison of the interactions between three plastic mulch types and 38 active substances found in pesticides

Beriot, Nicolas; Zomer, Paul; Zornoza, Raul; Geissen, Violette


Background: In semi-arid regions, the use of plastic mulch and pesticides in conventional agriculture is nearly ubiquitous. Although the sorption of pesticides on Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) has been previously studied, no data are available for other plastics such as Pro-oxidant Additive Containing (PAC) plastics or “biodegradable” (Bio) plastics. The aim of this research was to measure the sorption pattern of active substances from pesticides on LDPE, PAC and Bio plastic mulches and to compare the decay of the active substances in the presence and absence of plastic debris. Methods: For this purpose, 38 active substances from 17 insecticides, 15 fungicides and six herbicides commonly applied with plastic mulching in South-east Spain were incubated with a 3 × 3 cm2 piece of plastic mulch (LDPE, PAC and Bio). The incubation was done in a solution of 10% acetonitrile and 90% distilled water at 35 C for 15 days in the dark. The Quick Easy Cheap Effective Rugged Safe approach was adapted to extract the pesticides. Results: The sorption behavior depended on both the pesticide and the plastic mulch type. On average, the sorption percentage was ~23% on LDPE and PAC and ~50% on Bio. The decay of active substances in the presence of plastic was ~30% lesser than the decay of active substances in solution alone. This study is the first attempt at assessing the behavior of a diversity of plastic mulches and pesticides to further define research needs.