Plant and Soil

, Volume 386, Issue 1–2, pp 99–112 | Cite as

Development of phytotoxicity and composition of a soil treated with olive mill wastewater (OMW): an incubation study

  • C. Buchmann
  • A. Felten
  • B. Peikert
  • K. Muñoz
  • N. Bandow
  • A. Dag
  • G. E. Schaumann
Regular Article


Background and aims

Olive mill wastewater (OMW) generated in Mediterranean countries is partly disposed of on soil. Its underlying fate mechanisms and influences on plant growth are still largely unknown. Our goal was to understand OMW organic matter (OMW-OM) degradation in soil and its phytotoxic effects. We hypothesized that OMW phytotoxicity decreased with degradation of its phenolic components.


In a 60 day incubation study, we monitored soil respiration, extractable total phenolic content (TPC) and carbon isotope ratio (δ13C) of OMW treated Israeli soil. The soil was extracted using accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) and its extracts were exemplarily analyzed for four phenolic substances by LC/MS. Phytotoxicity of soil and soil extracts were tested using a Lepidium sativum seed germination bioassay.


Soil respiration was 2.5 times higher for OMW treated soil with two respiration maxima and indicated a degradation of up to 27 % of the added OMW-OM. Four phases of OMW-OM degradation were identified: (i) degradation of easily degradable OMW-OM and transformation of phenolic compounds, (ii) intermediate suppression of phytotoxicity, (iii) degradation of phytotoxic phenolic compounds and (iv) significant physical immobilization of phytotoxic compounds.


Environmental conditions during and after OMW disposal on soil ought to favor fast degradation of OMW-OM, minimizing their physical immobilization and phytotoxic effects.


OMW Phytotoxicity Carbon isotope ratio IRMS ASE TPC 



This research was conducted within the trilateral project “OLIVEOIL” funded by the DFG (SCHA849/13). The authors thank all members of the researchers group for fruitful discussions. Furthermore, we thank Andreas Hirsch, Silvia Eichhöfer and Eugenia Podolskaja for their help during the measurements.

Supplementary material

11104_2014_2241_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (446 kb)
Table 1 (pdf 446 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Buchmann
    • 1
  • A. Felten
    • 1
  • B. Peikert
    • 1
  • K. Muñoz
    • 1
  • N. Bandow
    • 2
  • A. Dag
    • 3
  • G. E. Schaumann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Sciences Landau, Department of Environmental and Soil ChemistryUniversity Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany
  2. 2.Federal Institute for Materials Research and TestingBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Agricultural Research OrganizationGilat Research CenterD.N. NegevIsrael

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