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Plastic waste on a freshly cultivated field in Germany

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Microplastic fibres may be as damaging to soil ecosystems as drought.

Yudi Lozano at the Free University of Berlin and her colleagues suspected that microplastics may affect interactions between soil and water, so they examined the impact on grassland soils.

The researchers collected dry loam soil – which consists mainly of sand and silt – and mixed in polyester microfibres that were 1.28 millimetres in length. They planted seven grassland plant species in the soil, keeping some of the plants well-watered and growing others in drought-like conditions.

To simulate a moderately …