11. Sep, 2020

More Microplastic pollution and life in the soil

The Guardian has reported on a recent research which confirms that Microplastic pollution causes significant damage to populations of soil-dwelling mites, larvae and other tiny creatures that maintain the fertility of the land, research has found.
The study notes that discarded bags, cups, threads and other forms of plastic waste are concentrated more in the earth than the oceans, with similarly dire consequences for the abundance of species that live below the surface.
Mites, roundworms, springtails and other forms of microarthropod and nematode are barely visible to the human eye, but they play an essential role in recycling carbon and nitrogen and breaking down organic matter into a form that bacteria can consume.
They are increasingly threatened by oil-based synthetic refuse. The new paper, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, notes that humanity has produced 6,300 million metric tonnes of plastic waste since 1950, of which 79% has accumulated in landfills or leaked into the natural environment.
The authors conducted what they say is the first ever field study of how this is likely to affect the abundance of microarthropods, nematodes and micro-organisms such as fungi and bacteria.
Plastic in compost and soil from ground cover fabric
Using organic material such as cardboard is effective and environmentally sound practice. However, using plastic ground cover sheeting may not be desirable if we are trying to avoid plastic contamination of the soil and water courses. On allotments such sheeting may be used as a weed suppressant on vacant plots and under wood chip paths etc. It can also introduce long strands of black plastic to the compost bin. The photos show some of the plastic waste found in an allotment community composting bin.
Is it time to stop using this fabric?