Motivation

Plastics have become a key component of modern agriculture, both directly, through their use in production systems, such as greenhouse cover films and silage bags, and indirectly, such as through the application of sewage sludge or compost. However, we know almost nothing about the fate of this plastic and its impact on soil functions.
The SOPLAS ETN addresses this critical knowledge gap, while delivering significant advances in understanding the plastic cycle within soil and supporting the development of environmental policies, agricultural practices and industrial opportunities related to mitigating the impact of plastics on the environment.

More specifically, SOPLAS does:

  • adapt and optimise existing tools to detect and quantify macro- and microplastic input into agricultural soils;
  • improve understanding of the degradation mechanisms of conventional and biodegradable plastic, as basis of optimizing used plastic materials and identifying remediation pathways;
  • determine the impact of microplastic on soil functions and soil health;
  • identify pathways for microplastic export from agricultural soils to freshwater ecosystems; and
  • analysis farmers’ and consumers’ willingness to reduce the input of plastic material into agricultural soils.
To address these project aims and train a new generation of leading experts understanding the nexus of plastic-agriculture-soil, SOPLAS brings together a truly multidisciplinary team of academic and industry experts, comprising economists, agronomists, hydrologists, soil scientists, microbiologists and chemists, using the most advanced state-of-the-art approaches in their respective fields. The training network will facilitate a dialogue between researchers, industry and practitioners with as ultimate goal to advance the sustainable use of plastics in European agriculture.

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