Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
SOIL, 8, 31–47, 2022
SOIL, 8, 31–47, 2022

Original research article 19 Jan 2022

Original research article | 19 Jan 2022

Are agricultural plastic covers a source of plastic debris in soil? A first screening study

Zacharias Steinmetz et al.

Related subject area

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Cited articles

Agrarmeteorologie Rheinland-Pfalz: Wetterdaten Pfalz, available at:, last access: 7 May 2021. a
ASTM D422-63: Standard Test Method for Particle-Size Analysis of Soils, Technical standard, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, available at: (last access: 14 January 2022), 2007. a
Beriot, N., Peek, J., Zornoza, R., Geissen, V., and Huerta Lwanga, E.: Low Density-Microplastics Detected in Sheep Faeces and Soil: A Case Study from the Intensive Vegetable Farming in Southeast Spain, Sci. Total Environ., 755, 142653,, 2021. a
Bertling, J., Zimmermann, T., and Rödig, L.: Kunststoffe in der Umwelt: Emissionen in landwirtschaftlich genutzte Böden, Tech. Rep., Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft,, 2021. a, b
Beyler, C. L. and Hirschler, M. M.: Thermal Decomposition of Polymers, in: SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering, edited by: DiNenno, P. J., National Fire Protection Association Massachusetts, USA, 2nd Edn., ISBN 978-0877654513, 2002. a, b, c
Short summary
To scrutinize the contribution of agricultural plastic covers to plastic pollution, we quantified soil-associated plastic debris (≤ 2 mm) in and around agricultural fields covered with different plastics. PP fleeces and 50 µm thick PE films did not emit significant amounts of plastic debris into soil during their 4-month use. However, thinner and perforated PE foils (40 µm) were associated with elevated PE contents of up to 35 mg kg−1. Their long-term use may thus favor plastic accumulation.