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Research network set up

Under the leadership of the Augsburg geographer Prof. Peter Fiener, a research network was launched in March that aimed to examine the pollution of agricultural soil with macro- and microplastics called the "EU Innovative Training Network". With this program, the EU wants to support a new generation of innovative young scientists.

This Soplas research network (Macro and Microplastic in Agricultural Soil Systems) aims not only at encouraging upcoming scientists but also at closing gaps in the knowledge on this topic. It is hoped that this will contribute to a more sustainable use of plastics in agriculture. In addition, the project aims to improve the exchange of ideas and information between research, industry and agriculture.

The following research aspects are on the agenda for the interdisciplinary project:

  • adapting and optimizing existing methods for the quantification of macro and microplastic in the soil,
  • improving the understanding of decomposition processes of plastic in soil eco-systems,
  • studying the effects of microplastic on soil organisms,
  • analyzing the discharge pathways of microplastic from agricultural areas, and
  • examining the willingness of farmers and consumers to reduce the use of plastic materials in the context of agricultural production.

Prof. Fiener says he expects, on a global scale, to find more microplastic in the soil than in the oceans. However, the extent of the concrete pollution and what effects it is having are so far largely unknown. For upcoming scientists, there is a great deal of new information to be discovered here, says Fiener. It is intended that a total of 14 postgraduate students should be working on this topic at eleven European research institutes.



  • University of Augsburg (12.3.2021)
  • Photo: © Pixabay / Paul Henri Degrande

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