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Institute of

AT Agricultural Technology


Plastic in agricultural soil

Lead Institute AT Institute of Agricultural Technology

© Thünen-Institut

Plastic in agricultural soil

Despite intensive research activities, knowledge about the distribution of (micro)plastics in the environment is still very limited. At present, central challenges are the development and standardisation of analytical methods, especially for agricultural soils.

Background and Objective

Plastic in the environment is a global problem, the extent and consequences of which have not yet been adequately investigated. For agriculture, plastic particles in agricultural soils are of particular importance, as the particles and pollutants bound to them enter the food chain and change and could change soil properties in the long term.
Due to a lack of analytical methods for quantifying plastic particles in environmental samples, especially from agricultural soils, a sufficient assessment is currently not possible. The aim of the work is to establish the methodological basis for the investigation of environmental problems caused by plastic in soils and their subsequent evaluation.


Initially, methods and technologies will be developed that allow the reliable quantitative determination of plastics and microplastics in soils. The tasks include:

  • Establishment of a literature database on the current scientific status of analytical methods for the quantification of plastic particles in soils
  • Development and application of quantitative analytical methods for polymer identification and quantification of microplastics from reference soils and development of methodological guidelines
  • Development and establishment of a methodology for sampling and sample preparation
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