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A Deductive Approach to Digital Atlas of Agricultural Plastics

Article written by: Giuseppe Cillis, Dina Statuto, Evelia Schettini, Giuliano Vox and Pietro Picuno

Abstract: The agricultural sector has benefitted over the last century from several factors that have led to an exponential increase in its productive efficiency. The increasing use of new materials, such as plastics, has been one of the most important factors, as they have allowed for increased production in a simpler and more economical way. Various polymer types are used in different phases of the agricultural production cycle, but when their use is incorrectly managed, it can lead to different environmental impacts. In this study, an applied and simplified methodology to manage agricultural plastics monitoring and planning is proposed. The techniques used are based on quantification through the use of different datasets (orthophotos and satellite images) of the areas covered by plastics used for crop protection. The study area chosen is a part of the Ionian Coast of Southern Italy, which includes the most important municipalities of the Basilicata Region for fruit and vegetable production. The use of geographical techniques and observation methodologies, developed in an open‐source GIS environment, enabled accurate location of about 2000 hectares of agricultural land covered by plastics, as well as identification of the areas most susceptible to the accumulation of plastic waste. The techniques and the model implemented, due to its simplicity of use and reliability, can be applied by different local authorities in order to realize an Atlas of agricultural plastics, which would be applied for continuous monitoring, thereby enabling the upscaling of future social and ecological impact assessments, identification of new policy impacts, market searches, etc.

Funding: This research was funded by the Project “Plastic in Agricultural Production: Impacts, Lifecycles and Long‐term sustainability—PAPILLONS”, financed by the European Union—Topic: SFS‐21‐2020 Emerging challenges for soil management—Sub‐Topic B [2020]: Emerging challenges for soil management: use of plastic in agriculture (RIA)—Grant agreement ID: 101000210.

Keywords: agroplastics; digital Atlas; agricultural plastic surface; remote sensing indices; RPGI; plastic footprint

Citation: Cillis, G.; Statuto, D.; Schettini, E.; Vox, G.; Picuno, P. Implementing a GIS‐Based Digital Atlas of Agricultural Plastics to Reduce Their Environmental Footprint. Part I: A Deductive Approach. Appl. Sci. 2022, 12, 1330.

Please find the full article here.

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