Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 227:453 | Cite as

Changes on the Phytoavailability of Nutrients in a Mine Soil Reclaimed with Compost and Biochar

  • Alfonso Rodríguez-Vila
  • Rubén Forján
  • Rafael S. Guedes
  • Emma F. Covelo


Mine soils often contain high levels of metals that produce serious environmental problems and poor fertility conditions that limit their reclamation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of a compost and biochar amendment on the nutrient phytoavailability in a mine soil from the depleted copper mine of Touro (Spain). For this purpose, a greenhouse experiment was carried out amending the mine soil with increasing proportions (20, 40, 80 and 100%) of the compost and biochar mixture and planting Brassica juncea plants. The results revealed that the mine soil had an extremely acid pH and low fertility conditions and was affected by copper contamination. The addition of compost and biochar to the mine soil increased soil pH values (from 2.7 to 8.7), total carbon (from undetectable values to 149 g kg−1) and total nitrogen (from undetectable values to 11,130 mg kg−1) contents and phytoavailable concentrations of K, Mg, Na and P and promoted plant growth, since B. juncea plants did not survive in the untreated mine soil. The application of amendment decreased the phytoavailable concentration of Al, Co, Cu, Fe and Ni in the soil, resulting in a reduction of copper toxicity. The use of compost and biochar as a soil amendment combined with B. juncea plants could be an efficient strategy for the reclamation of degraded soils with low fertility conditions.


Mine soil Nutrients Compost Biochar Brassica juncea 



The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments, which helped to improve the quality of this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The present research did not involve any human participants and/or animals.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


  1. Abujabhah, I. S., Bound, S. A., Doyle, R., & Bowman, J. P. (2016). Effects of biochar and compost amendments on soil physico-chemical properties and the total community within a temperate agricultural soil. Applied Soil Ecology, 98, 243–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agegnehu, G., Bass, A. M., Nelson, P. N., Muirhead, B., Wright, G., & Bird, M. I. (2015). Biochar and biochar-compost as soil amendments: effects on peanut yield, soil properties and greenhouse gas emissions in tropical North Queensland, Australia. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 213, 72–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alvarenga, P., Gonçalves, A. P., Fernandes, R. M., Varennes, A., Vallini, G., Duarte, E., & Cunha-Queda, A. C. (2008). Evaluation of composts and liming materials in the phytostabilization of a mine soil using perennial ryegrass. Science of the Total Environment, 406, 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Babu, D. N., Prasadini, P. P., Ramesh, T., & Prasad, J. V. N. S. (2014). Effective microbial compost—an alternative nitrogen source to crops under climate change scenario. Ecology, Environment and Conservation, 20, S435–S438.Google Scholar
  5. Baldantoni, D., De Nicola, F., & Alfani, A. (2010). Can compost applications affect metal and PAH contents in Mediterranean agricultural soils? Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, 19, 1735–1740.Google Scholar
  6. Beesley, L., Moreno-Jiménez, E., Gomez-Eyles, J. L., Harris, E., Robinson, B., & Sizmur, T. (2011). A review of biochars’ potential role in the remediation, revegetation and restoration of contaminated soils. Environmental Pollution, 159, 3269–3282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolan, N., Adriano, D., & Mahimairaja, S. (2004). Distribution and bioavailability of trace elements in livestock and poultry manure by-products. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 34, 291–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bougnom, B. P., Mair, J., Etoa, F. X., & Insam, H. (2009). Composts with wood ash addition: a risk or a chance for ameliorating acid tropical soils? Geoderma, 153, 402–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dickinson, N.M., (2000). Strategies for sustainable woodland on contaminated soils. Chemosphere, 41, 259e263.Google Scholar
  10. Elmaslar Özbaş, E. (2015). The use of municipal solid waste compost in contaminated soil to reduce the availability of Ni and Cd: a study from Istanbul. Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy, 34, 1372–1378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fowles, M. (2007). Black carbon sequestration as an alternative to bioenergy. Biomass and Bioenergy, 31, 426–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fu, X., Shao, M., Wei, X., & Horton, R. (2010). Soil organic carbon and total nitrogen as affected by vegetation types in Northern Loess Plateau of China. Geoderma, 155, 31–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gajalakshmi, S., & Abbasi, S. A. (2008). Solid waste management by composting: state of the art. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 38, 311–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gall, J. E., & Rajakaruna, N. (2013). The physiology, functional genomics, and applied ecology of heavy metal-tolerant Brassicaceae. In M. Lang (Ed.), Brassicaceae: characterization, functional genomics and health benefits (pp. 121–148). New York: Nova.Google Scholar
  15. Garbisu, G., & Alkorta, I. (2001). Phytoextraction: a cost-effective plant-based technology for the removal of metals from the environment. Bioresource Technology, 77, 229–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. González-Ubierna, S., Jorge-Mardomingo, I., Carrero-González, B., de la Cruz, M. T., & Casermeiro, M. Á. (2012). Soil organic matter evolution after the application of high doses of organic amendments in a Mediterranean calcareous soil. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 12, 1257–1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Houba, V. J. G., Temminghoff, E. J. M., Gaikhorst, G. A., & Van Vark, W. (2000). Soil analysis procedures using 0.01 M calcium chloride as extraction reagent. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 31, 1299–1396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Iovieno, P., Baldantoni, D., De Nicola, F., Alfani, A., Morra, L., & Zaccardelli, M. (2006). Multidisciplinary approach to validate compost use in vegetable crop systems of Campania region (Italy): influence of compost rates on soil biological activity and heavy metal content. Acta Horticulturae, 700, 272–274.Google Scholar
  19. Kabata-Pendias, A. (2011). Trace elements in soils and plants (4th ed.). Boca Raton: CRC.Google Scholar
  20. Karami, N., Clemente, R., Moreno-Jiménez, E., Lepp, N. W., & Beesley, L. (2011). Efficiency of green waste compost and biochar soil amendments for reducing lead and copper mobility and uptake to ryegrass. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 191, 41–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Karer, J., Wawra, A., Zehetner, F., Dunst, G., Wagner, M., Pavel, P.-B., Puschenreiter, M., Friesl-Hanl, W., & Soja, G. (2015). Effects of biochars and compost mixtures and inorganic additives on immobilisation of heavy metals in contaminated soils. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 226, 342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kargar, M., Clark, O. G., Hendershot, W. H., Jutras, P., & Prasher, S. O. (2015). Immobilization of trace metals in contaminated urban soil amended with compost and biochar. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 226, 191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kohler, J., Caravaca, F., Azcón, R., Díaz, G., & Roldán, A. (2014). Selection of plant species–organic amendment combinations to assure plant establishment and soil microbial function recovery in the phytostabilization of a metal-contaminated soil. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 225, 1930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lannan, A. P., Erich, M. S., & Ohno, T. (2013). Compost feedstock and maturity level affect soil response to amendment. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 49, 273–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu, J., Schulz, H., Brandl, S., Miehtke, H., Huwe, B., & Glaser, B. (2012). Short-term effect of biochar and compost on soil fertility and water status of a Dystric Cambisol in NE Germany under field conditions. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 175, 698–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu, J.-B., Zhang, Y.-Q., Wu, B., Qin, S.-G., Jia, X., Fa, K.-Y., Feng, W., & Lai, Z.-R. (2015). Effect of vegetation rehabilitation on soil carbon and its fractions in Mu Us Desert, Northwest China. International Journal of Phytoremediation, 17, 529–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Macías, F., & Calvo de Anta, R. (2009). Niveles genéricos de referencia de metales pesados y otros elementos traza en los suelos de Galicia. Spain: Xunta de Galicia.Google Scholar
  28. Madejón, P., Alaejos, J., García-Álbala, J., Fernández, M., & Madejón, E. (2016). Three-year study of fast-growing trees in degraded soils amended with composts: effects on soil fertility and productivity. Journal of Environmental Management, 169, 18–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Manzano, R., Peñalosa, J. M., & Esteban, E. (2014). Amendment application in a multicontaminated mine soil: effects on trace element mobility. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 225, 1874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Marx, E.S., Hart, T., & Stevens, R.G. (1999). Soil test interpretation guide (p. 7). Oregon, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Montiel-Rozas, M. M., Madejón, E., & Madejón, P. (2015). Evaluation of phytostabilizer ability of three ruderal plants in mining soils restored by application of organic amendments. Ecological Engineering, 83, 431–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mourato, M. P., Moreira, I. N., Leitão, I., Pinto, F. R., Sales, J. R., & Martins, L. L. (2015). Effect of heavy metals in plants of the genus Brassica. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16, 17975–17998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pérez-De-Mora, A., Madejón, P., Burgos, P., Cabrera, F., Lepp, N. W., & Madejón, E. (2011). Phytostabilization of semiarid soils residually contaminated with trace elements using by-products: sustainability and risks. Environmental Pollution, 159, 3018–3027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Porta, J., López-Acevedo, M., & Rodríguez, R. (1986). Técnicas y experimentos en Edafología. Barcelona: Collegi Oficial D’Enginyers Agrònoms de Catalunya.Google Scholar
  35. Puig, C. G., Álvarez-Iglesias, L., Reigosa, M. J., & Pedrol, N. (2013). Eucalyptus globulus leaves incorporated as green manure for weed control in maize. Weed Science, 61, 154–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rodríguez-Vila, A., Asensio, V., Forján, R., & Covelo, E. F. (2015). Chemical fractionation of Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn in a mine soil amended with compost and biochar and vegetated with Brassica juncea L. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 158, 74–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shaheen, S. M., Tsadilas, C. D., & Rinklebe, J. (2013). A review of the distribution coefficient of trace elements in soils: influence of sorption system, element characteristics, and soil colloidal properties. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, 201–202, 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Soumaré, M., Tack, F. M. G., & Verloo, M. G. (2007). Redistribution and availability of iron, manganese, zinc, and copper in four Malian agricultural soils amended with solid municipal waste compost. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 38, 2567–2579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stevenson, F. J., & Ardakani, M. S. (1972). Organic matter reactions involving micronutrients in soils. In J. J. Mortvedt, P. M. Giordano, & W. L. Lindsay (Eds.), Micronutrients in agriculture (pp. 79–114). Madison: Soil Science Society of America.Google Scholar
  40. Tang, X., Liu, S., Liu, J., & Zhou, G. (2010). Effects of vegetation restoration and slope positions on soil aggregation and soil carbon accumulation on heavily eroded tropical land of Southern China. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 10, 505–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. USDA, (1998). Soil quality indicators: pH.Google Scholar
  42. Van Ginneken, L., Meers, E., Guisson, R., Ruttens, A., Elst, K., Tack, F. M. G., Vangronsveld, J., Diels, L., & Dejonghe, W. (2007). Phytoremediation for heavy metal-contaminated soils combined with bioenergy production. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Landscape Management, 15, 227–236.Google Scholar
  43. Wang, L., Sun, X., Li, S., Zhang, T., Zhang, W., & Zhai, P. (2014). Application of organic amendments to a coastal saline soil in north China: effects on soil physical and chemical properties and tree growth. PLoS ONE, 9, e89185.Google Scholar
  44. Wong, J. W. C., & Selvam, A. (2009). Growth and elemental accumulation of plants grown in acidic soil amended with coal fly ash-sewage sludge co-compost. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 57, 515–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfonso Rodríguez-Vila
    • 1
  • Rubén Forján
    • 1
  • Rafael S. Guedes
    • 2
  • Emma F. Covelo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Biology and Soil Science, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of VigoVigoSpain
  2. 2.Institute of Agricultural SciencesFederal Rural University of Amazonia (ICA-UFRA)BelémBrazil

Personalised recommendations