"On Farms, ‘Plasticulture’ Persists"

"U.S. farms are covered in plastic, from the sides of greenhouses to plastic mulch, hoop houses, irrigation tubes, and more. As it degrades, plastic accumulates in soil and in plants, with potential threats to food safety."

"In 1948, E.M. Emmert, a horticulturist at the University of Kentucky, was tinkering around with how to build a cheap greenhouse. He decided to use polyethylene sheets in lieu of the glass sides, bending the plastic film around a wooden frame. The plants thrived in the new environment; the plastic let in enough light while trapping in warmth.

This is commonly regarded as the first introduction of plastic into agriculture, a move that would transform modern farming—and inadvertently deposit an untold amount of plastic in the soil.

In the decades that followed, this cheap, pliant material spread through farms across the U.S. and world, becoming so widely used that plastics in agriculture gained its own name: plasticulture."

Grey Moran reports for Civil Eats June 5, 2024.

Source: Civil Eats, 06/17/2024