Soil pollution under orchards in central-eastern Portugal: sources, risks and potential solutions

Project: PhD

Project Details


The centre-eastern part of Portuguese mainland has the highest area of peach production in the country. Pesticides are intensively used in this crop, especially herbicides whose application is the standard technique for weed control. However, some herbicides, such as the ones based on glyphosate, were found to negatively affect arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) which can improve the resistance of host plants to stress and enhance the phosphate availability for plants. Nevertheless, the distribution of pesticide residues in soil and the effect of such mixtures on AMF are still largely unknown. Furthermore, microplastics may enter the soils from diffuse sources such as irrigation, organic fertilizers application and air deposition. The synergistic effects of pesticide residues and microplastics on soil health also need urgent attention. This PhD project will start with a field survey on pesticide and microplastic residues in soil under commercial peach orchards from the centre-eastern region of Portugal. Possible sources of microplastic contamination will be evaluated and a mesocosm experiment will be carried out to assess the synergistic effects of microplastics and the main pesticide residues detected in the orchards soil on AMF. Furthermore, the suitability of Trifolium fragiferum and Trifolium pratense as green manure will be tested in a field experiment as a strategy to reduce or even replace herbicide applications and to improve the fertility of soil.
Effective start/end date1/07/21 → …


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