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Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 899–904 | Cite as

2018 AFHVS presidential address

Agriculture in the Plastic Age
  • Jessica R. GoldbergerEmail author
Article
  • 303 Downloads

Abstract

In this address I discuss agricultural plastic use and plastic pollution mitigation strategies. I focus on agricultural plastic mulches, which offer many benefits to farmers, such as weed control, better moisture retention, and increased yield. The removal and disposal of widely used polyethylene (PE) plastic mulch, however, have detrimental environmental and health impacts. Are biodegradable plastic mulches a promising alternative? Biodegradable plastic mulches ideally offer the same benefits as PE plastic mulch, but biodegrade in soil or composting environments. I describe social science research findings from a large USDA-funded project focused on the performance and adoptability of biodegradable plastic mulches for U.S. specialty crop production. I also provide agrifood scholars with ideas for future research on plastics.

Keywords

Agriculture Plastic Environment Pollution Biodegradable mulch 

Abbreviations

BPA

Bisphenol A

FDA

Food and Drug Administration

NIFA

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

NOP

National Organic Program

PE

Polyethylene

PET

Polyethylene terephthalate

PVC

Polyvinyl chloride

SCRI

Specialty Crop Research Initiative

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Marcia Ostrom, Douglas Hayes, and Susan Schexnayder for reviewing an earlier version of this presidential address. Also thank you to the Technology Adoption Working Group members, especially Katherine Dentzman, Jeremy Cowan, Chris Benedict, and Annette Wszelaki. Our research on biodegradable plastic mulches would not be possible without funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Grant No. 2014-51181-22382).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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