Microplastics in agroecosystems: A review of effects on soil biota and key soil functions

Shafea, Leila; Yap, Julia; Beriot, Nicolas; Felde, Vincent J.M.N.L.; Okoffo, Elvis D.; Enyoh, Christian Ebere; Peth, Stephan


Contamination of soils in agroecosystems with microplastics (MPs) is of increasing concern. The contamination of the environment/farmland soils with MPs (1 µm to 5 mm sized particles) and nanoplastics (NPs; <1 µm sized particles) is causing numerous effects on ecological soil functions and human health. MPs enter the soil via several sources, either from intentional plastic use (e.g., plastic mulch, plastic greenhouses, plastic-coated products) or indirectly from the input of sewage sludge, compost, or irrigation water that is contaminated with plastic. Once in the soil, plastic debris can have various impacts such as changes in soil functions and physicochemical properties and it affects soil organisms due to its toxic behavior. This review paper describes the different effects of plastic waste to understand the consequences for agricultural productivity. Furthermore, we identify knowledge gaps and highlight the required approaches, indicating future research directions on sources, transport, and fate of MPs in soils to improve our understanding of various unspecified abiotic and biotic impacts of MP pollution in agroecosystems.