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University of Gloucestershire joins EU project exploring impact of plastic on soil health and agricultural productivity

21 September 2021
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The University of Gloucestershire has joined an EU project exploring impact of plastic on soil health and agricultural productivity

MINAGRIS, an EU-funded project, will explore how plastic debris is affecting soil biodiversity, soil functions, related ecosystem services, and agricultural productivity.

The impacts of plastic debris on soil health are largely unknown despite equal, or possibly greater, amounts of plastics entering soils than our rivers, seas, and oceans1.

MINAGRIS (‘MIcro- and Nano-plastics in AGRIcultural Soils’) will undertake experiments in 11 case studies across Europe, including one in the UK, working alongside stakeholders across the agricultural community.

In the UK, the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) within the University of Gloucestershire will lead the dissemination of the research findings, investigate the advice available to farmers surrounding plastic use in agriculture, and work with UK horticultural growers and stakeholders.

The CCRI team comprises Professor Julie Ingram, Associate Professor Jane Mills, and Dr Charlotte Chivers.

Professor Ingram, who will be leading this work in the UK, said: “This is a very exciting project as whilst there has been extensive research into the impacts of plastics on aquatic environments, little attention has been paid to soils, despite the importance of soil biodiversity.

“We look forward to supporting a team of highly experienced scientists across Europe to fully assess the environmental impacts of plastics on soil health, before exploring ways of reducing farmer reliance on products containing plastics.”

Plastic has many uses in agriculture. For example, mulches used for weed control often contain plastic, as do tractor tyres and some historically applied agrichemicals.

However, the impacts of the resulting plastic debris left in the soil are little known, particularly when combined with other contaminants such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals.

Once the impacts of plastics on soil health are established, the project will then provide farmers and other stakeholders with tools and guidance on how to assess their exposure and help them to transition away from using plastic-based products.

Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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