Quantification and analysis of surface macroplastic contamination on arable areas

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Purpose: The present study provides quantitative data on the degree of macroplastic contamination of two conventionally treated arable areas in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), which differ only in the use of organic fertilizers (e.g., compost). Methods: The plastic contamination of both areas was determined by means of field sampling. The study areas were divided into edge and central areas to minimize and identify direct influences from the boundaries. After cleaning and drying, the collected macroplastic particles were analyzed by phototechnical and optical methods for number and size of particles. Results: The arable area with compost fertilization showed a substantially higher macroplastic pollution with 9247 particles per hectare compared to the 220 particles per hectare found on the arable land without compost application. Furthermore, the differences in plastic forms and types on both areas, the presence of plastic directly related to household and garden products, and the homogeneous distribution of plastic particles on the arable area with compost application allow to conclude that compost can be regarded as reason for substantially higher pollution. Areas close to a road showed a higher degree of contamination and differences in the found plastic products compared to the center areas, which indicates littering as a further considerable entry path. Conclusions: The causes of plastic contamination of the investigated arable areas (e.g., contaminated compost by improper waste management and littering) are predominantly external to agricultural practices. The knowledge gained contributes to the knowledge about quantities, impacts, and fate of plastic in the environment.

ZeitschriftJournal of Soils and Sediments
Seiten (von - bis)757-768
Anzahl der Seiten12
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.03.2022