MIcro- and NAno-Plastics in AGRIcultural Soils: sources, environmental fate and impacts on ecosystem services and overall sustainability (MINAGRIS)

Plastic use provides many benefits 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.

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.

The main outcome:

The various (un)intentional uses of different types of plastics in the agricultural sector will be quantified. A comprehensive overview of plastic supply and use across Europe will provide vital information on which to build a strong framework for overall assessment of the nature and extent of pollution and necessary mitigation. Moreover, plastic manufacturers will be able to connect and share with end users to meet their requirements for sustainable substitutes.

More information about the project:MINAGRIS - Home