Potential sources and occurrence of macro-plastics and microplastics pollution in farmland soils: A typical case of China

Siyang Ren, Kai Wang*, Jinrui Zhang, Jingjing Li, Hanyue Zhang, Ruimin Qi, Wen Xu, Changrong Yan, Xuejun Liu*, Fusuo Zhang, Davey L. Jones, David R. Chadwick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Plastic debris (including macro-plastics, microplastics (MPs), and nanoplastics), defined as an emerging contaminant, has been proven to significantly affect soil ecosystem functioning. Accordingly, there is an urgent need to robustly quantify the pollution situation and potential sources of plastics in soils. China as the leading producer and user of agricultural plastics is analyzed as a typical case study to highlight the current situation of farmland macro-plastics and MPs. Our study summarized information on the occurrence and abundance of macro-plastics and MPs in Chinese farmland soils for the first time based on 163 publications with 728 sample sites. The results showed that the average concentration of macro-plastics, and the abundance of MPs in Chinese farmlands were 103 kg ha−1 and 4537 items kg−1 (dry soil), respectively. In addition, this study synthesized the latest scientific evidence on sources of macro-plastics and MPs in farmland soils. Agricultural plastic films and organic wastes are the most reported sources, indicating that they contribute significantly to plastic debris in agricultural soils. Furthermore, the modeling methods for quantifying macro-plastics and MPs in soils and estimating the stock and flow of plastic materials within agricultural systems were also summarized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-556
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number7
Early online date23 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2024


  • Abundance
  • farmland soils
  • Hyunjung Kim and Jörg Rinklebe
  • macro-plastics
  • microplastics
  • quantitative method
  • source apportionment


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