Plastic can inadvertently reach soils through discarding ("littering"), blowing away, abrasion (e.g. tires), and unauthorized dumping. In agriculture, plastic mulch, netting, labels, growing plates, pipes, silage packaging, and other plastic products play a central role. This reliance on plastics has equally resulted in plastic residues on agricultural soils. In the joint international project MINAGRIS, the app SoilPlastic was developed with the collaboration of AGES to record observations of plastic in soils. The aim of this project is to obtain more accurate data on the degree of pollution of agricultural land with plastics, as well as to facilitate the use of more sustainable plastics in agriculture in the future. The MINAGRIS project involves 20 partners from different EU countries. Here you can find more information about the MINAGRIS project.
Citizens can help to monitor plastic in soils
Farmers, citizens, teachers and students can help us collect data on plastic in soils. Next time you go for a walk, keep your eyes peeled and record any findings of plastic residue in the SoilPlastic app. The app is available now on IoS and Android. The collected data will be analyzed anonymously as part of the MINAGRIS project to study the amount and impact of plastic in soils. The anonymized observations will be added to a global database.
As plastic breaks down into micro- and nanoplastics, these tiny particles can be ingested by wildlife and certain plants. Recent research shows that plastic can alter soil properties and affect nutrient cycling and the soil's ability to hold and store water. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for soils to maintain biodiversity and provide the nutrients plants need to grow, which can threaten the economic base of farms.
Download the SoilPlastic app now and start collecting data