Investigation into plastic pollution moves inland
A bundle of anthropogenic fibers found in UK soil. Credit: Ellie Harrison

New research highlights the increasing threat of microplastics to global farming and food production.

Scientists at Staffordshire University are driving research to understand the scale of plastic pollution in agricultural soils and its impact around the world.

Claire Gwinnett, Professor of Forensic and Environmental Science, explained that “we know a lot about microplastics in oceans and freshwater and we are starting to learn more about microplastics in the air, but we still know very little about microplastics in terrestrial environments.”

“With climate change, the pressure of increasing populations on food production and risks to food security, it has become apparent that it is incredibly important that we look into this.”

In recent years, the use of plastics in agriculture has increased significantly. However, microplastics in soil are estimated to take up to 300 years to completely degrade. It is believed that their presence alters soil characteristics such as its structure, water holding capacity, and microbial communities, and that microplastics are, in part, responsible for crop-reducing effects.

The Staffordshire Forensic Fibres and Microplastic Research Group has been undertaking various studies, including an international review into the pressures of plastic pollution in rural regions, which highlights the need for wider analysis of terrestrial microplastics to help reduce environmental and public health threats.

Professor Gwinnett says that “we know that microplastics in agricultural soils are abundant, varied, and are influenced by land use and farming activities. We know from a small number of studies that it can affect organisms living in the soil such as worms and springtails.”

“Studies on the effect of microplastics on plants are even rarer but we also know that it impacts crops grown in these environments as well as livestock living there. What we need to know now is how much plastic there is and to better understand what effect this is having.”

Ellie Harrison, a Ph.D. researcher in the Staffordshire Forensic Fibres and Microplastic Research Group, is currently conducting a series of studies on the effects of microplastics on common UK agricultural crops. She says that “research into the impacts of microplastics in the agricultural soils conducted at Staffordshire University has shown that this pollutant can cause a decrease in germination rate and changes to seed production which could have negative consequences for food production.”

A recent study, conducted in partnership with Çukurova University, has investigated the amount of plastics derived from disposable greenhouse plastic films and irrigation pipes in agricultural soils in Turkey.

Professor Gwinnett says that “greenhouse films and irrigation piping are products commonly used in farming and we have the same plastic uses in the UK and across Europe. Instead of being removed, these plastic products are often left in fields where they experience wear and tear and degradation from the sun which breaks these plastics down into secondary microplastics.”

“Our results show that from years and years of using these plastics, microplastics are accumulating in the soil and cannot be removed.”

Soil samples were taken from 10 different locations in the Adana/Karataş region in Turkey. The number of micro-, meso-, macro- and megaplastics that was identified in soil where greenhouse film and irrigation piping was used, was about 47, 78, 17, and 1.2-times higher than in farmlands that did not use plastic, respectively. Findings indicated that residual plastics decreased in the soil where used plastics were removed after usage. The results aim to guide farmers in better management of plastics.

A further study with Çukurova University is investigating farmer practices and perceptions in Turkey to understand what the barriers are to taking up preventative measures or more sustainable approaches.

Staffordshire University has been conducting similar research in the UK in partnership with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU); this study looks into the amount and types of microplastic in UK agricultural soils. This is the first of its kind in the UK and it aims to get a better understanding of the extent of microplastic pollution in farmland.

Professor Gwinnett added that “plastic usage in the agricultural sector may have worthy benefits in the short term, but the long-term effects cannot be ignored. We hope that our growing body of research can be used to inform decision makers and kickstart real change to safeguard soil health and the future of the farming.”

The research was published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research. More information: Rezan Gündoğdu et al, Plastics derived from disposable greenhouse plastic films and irrigation pipes in agricultural soils: a case study from Turkey, Environmental Science and Pollution Research (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s11356-022-21911-6 Journal information: Environmental Science and Pollution Research

Provided by Staffordshire University Citation: Investigation into plastic pollution moves inland (2022, August 17) retrieved 17 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-plastic-pollution-inland.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

NEWS RELATED

Amazon Top Deals: Gaming Display and Accessories Discounts Available Now

In this article, we will look at the best deals on gaming displays and accessories available right now, ahead of massive sales events later in the year. With events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday acquiring a reputation for attracting large crowds of aggressive buyers and hagglers, some of us may prefer to ...

View more: Amazon Top Deals: Gaming Display and Accessories Discounts Available Now

A Single Protein Could Reveal the Secrets of Age-Related Vision Loss

An illustration of vitronectin. Credit: Sanford Burnham Prebys/Francesca Marassi The researchers found that vitronectin is a promising target for macular degeneration. Francesca Marassi, Ph.D., a professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys, is leading research that is shedding light on the molecular mechanisms behind macular degeneration, which accounts for over 90% ...

View more: A Single Protein Could Reveal the Secrets of Age-Related Vision Loss

3 Netflix animated releases so good, they all have near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores

Looking back over the past several months, even into the latter part of 2021, some of the Netflix releases that have been — and continue to be — among the most critically acclaimed and well-received overall on the streamer haven’t always been the big-budget feature films, nor the live-action ...

View more: 3 Netflix animated releases so good, they all have near-perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores

Acne is a “disease of Western civilization.” Is overwashing to blame?

In the Western world, it’s rare to find someone who hasn’t faced a bout of acne at least once. Regardless of race, everyone seems to succumb to this unsightly skin condition, which occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. At 80% to 90% prevalence ...

View more: Acne is a “disease of Western civilization.” Is overwashing to blame?

Weird Alibaba Products: This Mini Electric Ice Cream Trike Comes With a Pop-up Tent

If you are always searching for the oddest buys on the Internet for whatever reason, Alibaba has all the strangest stuff to fulfill your interests. The largest online retailer in China has a massive catalog of the most bizarre items, particularly electric vehicles. Alibaba is one of the largest retailers ...

View more: Weird Alibaba Products: This Mini Electric Ice Cream Trike Comes With a Pop-up Tent

Spotify Is Installing Itself on Some Windows PCs

Spotify, Microsoft Remember when Apple dumped a U2 album on everyone’s iPhone? Well, it seems that Microsoft is automatically installing Spotify on Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs. Several users report that Spotify magically appeared on their desktop after a recent update. Reports of this problem bubbled up Reddit and Microsoft’s ...

View more: Spotify Is Installing Itself on Some Windows PCs

1,000,000 Times Thinner Than a Single Strand of Hair – Scientists Develop Leak-Free Nano-Pipes

Tubes, visible in light green, are roughly seven nanometers in diameter — about two million times smaller than an ant — and several microns long, or about the length of a dust particle. Credit: Johns Hopkins University The world’s tiniest plumbing could potentially funnel drugs to individual human cells. ...

View more: 1,000,000 Times Thinner Than a Single Strand of Hair – Scientists Develop Leak-Free Nano-Pipes

Power Armor 16 Pro unveiled on AliExpress for$159.99 and free Ulefone Buds

Power Armor 16 Pro preheat giveaway event is still going on and it has finally been disclosed on Ulefone official website. What’s more, from October 10th to October 13th this rugged machine will launch on AliExpress, priced at only $159.99. More importantly it is bundled with a set of free ...

View more: Power Armor 16 Pro unveiled on AliExpress for$159.99 and free Ulefone Buds

Study Reveals Main Target of COVID-19 in Brain and Describes Effects of Virus on Nervous System

Long-Term Study Supports Link Between Inflammation and Cognitive Problems in Older Breast Cancer Survivors

Work on to launch 5G in 200 cities within six months: Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

Ashwini Vaishnaw bats for stronger laws for social media intermediaries

She-Hulk episode 7 features the most puzzling twist of the series

Podcast #695 – Ryzen 7000 Reviews, RTX 40 Series minus EVGA, Intel Arc A770 Soon, ARM everything! + MORE

Using Smartphones Can Help Improve Your Memory Skills

Google Stadia Will Shut Down in 2023, All Purchases to Be Refunded

Anker Teases Its Biggest And Most Capable Power Station Yet

7 new Netflix releases everyone will be streaming next week

Folic Acid Treatment Is Associated With Decreased Risk of Suicide Attempts

New Marker of ALS Outcome Identified

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network