Mistakes may be a fundamental part of learning, but one homesteader is taking to Instagram to show how other gardeners can avoid a detrimental one.
The video, shared on Briana Bosch’s (@blossomandbranchfarm) page, explains how many gardeners use polypropylene tarp on their gardens to prevent weeds. In reality, this plant-control mechanism leaches microplastic into the environment. Bosch explained that as the sun hits the plastic, the UV rays break it down and release macro (large) and micro (small) plastics into the soil.
“Agricultural soils are the largest reservoirs of microplastics due to plastic usage,” she said in the video. Bosch explained how her soils “never looked better” after converting from the plastic tarps to the deep mulch system with native blue grama, an ornamental grass.
How it’s helping
Tarping soil is a huge problem for the environment and the gardeners who install it. Besides not being an effective tool to combat weeds, it also prevents the movement of runoff and reduces nutrients. That means weaker plants and a tarp that is, frankly, a pain in the neck to install.
Microplastics are defined as any type of plastic smaller than five millimeters in length or about the diameter of a pencil-top eraser. The small size of these plastics makes them difficult to clean up and means that they contaminate almost every water, soil, and animal on the planet. These plastics are partially problematic because we don’t yet know enough about them to gauge the human or ecological health risks. So, it’s best to avoid them as much as possible.
“In addition to now holding more microplastics than our oceans, soil is key to human health and these plastics prove a threat to our food safety,” Bosch wrote in the caption. When plastic is embedded in the soil, it’s easy to see how we can eat the residue from plants or livestock that graze on the plants.
What everyone’s saying
Users appreciated Bosch’s input on the plastic landscape tarp conversation. “I wish more people understood landscape fabric toxicity and how detrimental it is to soil health overall,” one user replied in the comments.
Other users were impressed by the idea that less plastic should be involved in farming. As one user wrote, “This is encouraging to read to ditch the plastic altogether!”
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