Agricultural fertilisers contribute substantially to microplastic concentrations in UK soils

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Cusworth, S. J., Davies, W. J., McAinsh, M. R., Gregory, A. S., Storkey, J. and Stevens, C. J. 2024. Agricultural fertilisers contribute substantially to microplastic concentrations in UK soils. Communications Earth & Environment. 5 (1), p. 7. https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-023-01172-y

AuthorsCusworth, S. J., Davies, W. J., McAinsh, M. R., Gregory, A. S., Storkey, J. and Stevens, C. J.
Abstract

Since their invention, plastics have driven a revolution in behavior in all aspects of our lives, including agriculture. In-use and as a waste material, plastics degrade and accumulate in agricultural systems. Accumulation of plastic pollution in agricultural systems has negative impacts on human health and agricultural productivity but little is known about concentrations of microplastics in soils. Here we used a historical time series to examine changes to
microplastic concentrations in agricultural soils over time. Microplastics were stained with Nile Red and quantified using fluorescence microscopy. We demonstrate that microplastic
concentrations increased at higher rates in soils that are amended with either organic or inorganic fertiliser between 1966 and 2022, suggesting that agricultural fertilisers are an important contributor to microplastic concentrations in agricultural soils over time. This study provides evidence that agricultural soils are receptors and reservoirs of microplastic pollution, a legacy which is growing over time.

Year of Publication2024
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Journal citation5 (1), p. 7
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-023-01172-y
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Waitrose Agronomy Group
Funder project or codeBBSRC National Bioscience Research Infrastructure: Rothamsted Long-Term Experiments
Publisher's version
Supplemental file
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online02 Jan 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted08 Dec 2023
PublisherNature Publishing Group
ISSN2662-4435

Permalink - https://repository.rothamsted.ac.uk/item/98z43/agricultural-fertilisers-contribute-substantially-to-microplastic-concentrations-in-uk-soils

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