NETmicroplastic in agricultural soil and its impact on soil properties

Publikation: Beitrag in Buch oder TagungsbandVortrag mit Beitrag in Tagungsband


Soil fertility is key for sustained plant growth and consistently high crop yields. Microplastic introduced to agricultural soil through mulching films, compost products, polymers and additives of fertilizers, and littering has potentially negative impacts on physico-chemical soil properties, soil ecology and agricultural production. Due to its small particle size, large specific surface area, and strong hydrophobicity, microplastic can adsorb to other soil pollutants (e.g., pesticides, antibiotics, plasticizers) and microorganisms. Microplastic is reported to affect soil properties depending mainly on soil type and microplastic characteristics. It is taken up by soil animals via feeding pathways, and over time is prone to forming nano plastic that migrates and accumulates in plants, thereby entering the food chain and potentially causing harm to humans. Presently, information is limited about microplastic as influencing factor of soil physical properties such as water holding capacity and soil processes like aggregation, besides its potential impact on the performance and composition of soil microbial communities and soil fauna and flora. Even less is known about the migration, degradation and mode of degradation of microplastic in soil.
In NETmicroplastic ( we aim to create a sustainable network of actors and stakeholders, including farmers, industry, policy makers, researchers, the educational sector and the general public, to tackle the many knowledge gaps concerning microplastic in agricultural soil, including its role in preserving soil fertility. We address, among others, the mechanisms of microplastic interaction with soil microbes and microbial degradation processes of microplastic; effects of microplastic on soil and plants, and perform impact studies of microplastic properties (size, shape) on soil properties (e.g., water holding capacity). We aim to support innovative technological solutions and foster policy making to oppose plastic pollution in soil and terrestrial environments, with a special focus on fruit and wine growing. This will result in (i) a deeper understanding of microplastic in agricultural soil, (ii) the generation of science- and evidence-based impact data, and (iii) the formulation of novel soil management practices to protect and improve soils for a more sustainable agriculture.
NETmicroplastic consists of 12 core network partners (8 national, 4 European) representing all relevant stakeholder groups, with AIT Austrian Institute of Technology as the lead partner. Three thematic groups, technology (bioplastics), environment (impact assessment) and education (school projects) help to remove barriers and will link the different impact fields in interdisciplinary teamwork and transdisciplinary collaboration, expanding from local to national and European level.
This will finally produce reliable and socially robust knowledge for multiple sectors and stakeholder groups. Thus, we aim to jointly obtain a growing understanding of the role of microplastic in soil health and support the development of management strategies that protect soil fertility, ensure nutrient and water supply, and prevent soil erosion.

Titelabstract book European Healthy Soils Conference
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 14 Sept. 2023
VeranstaltungEuropean Healthy Soils Conference - Muttenz, Schweiz
Dauer: 13 Sept. 202315 Sept. 2023


KonferenzEuropean Healthy Soils Conference

Research Field

  • Exploration of Biological Resources


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