EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Microplastics in agroecosystem – effects of plastic mulch film residues on soil-plant system

Yueling Qi1,2, Xiaomei Yang1, Esperanza Huerta Lwanga1, Paolina Garbeva2, and Violette Geissen1
Yueling Qi et al.
  • 1Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 47, 6700AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 2Department of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), 6700 AB Wageningen, The Netherlands

In the last decades, the use of plastic mulch film in (semi-) arid agricultural regions has strongly increased. Plastic residues from mulching remain and accumulate in soil that can lead to serious environment problems. Biodegradable plastic mulch films were produced as environmentally friendly alternative for solving plastic pollution in agricultural land. However, the effects of polyethylene and biodegradable mulch film residues on soil-plant system are largely unknown.

In this PhD project, we performed a series of experiments to assess the effects of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and biodegradable plastic (Bio, made of polyethylene terephthalate, polybutylene terephthalate, pullulan) with macro- (5 mm2, Ma) and micro- (50 µm-1 mm, Mi) sizes on wheat growth, rhizosphere microbiome, soil physicochemical and hydrological properties and soil suppressiveness. The results showed that plastic residues presented negative effects on both above- and below-ground  parts for both vegetative and reproductive development of wheat. We also identified significant effects of Bio and LDPE plastic residues on the rhizosphere bacterial communities and on the blend of volatiles emitted in the rhizosphere. Tested with a gradient in concentration of plastic residues (0, 0.5%, 1% and 2% w/w), soil physicochemical and hydrological properties nonmonotonically responded to residual amount of plastic debris in the soil. Lastly, although we did not observe effects of plastic residues on disease infection in our experiment, we anticipated that soil suppressiveness and other soil functions would be affected with the presence of plastics in soil.

Overall, our study provides evidence for impacts of plastic residues on the soil-plant system, suggesting urgent need for more research examining their environmental impacts on agroecosystems.

How to cite: Qi, Y., Yang, X., Huerta Lwanga, E., Garbeva, P., and Geissen, V.: Microplastics in agroecosystem – effects of plastic mulch film residues on soil-plant system, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13733,, 2020

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