Reduction of bioavailability and leachability of heavy metals during vermicomposting of water hyacinth
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Vermicomposting of water hyacinth is a good alternative for the treatment of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and subsequentially, beneficial for agriculture purposes. The bioavailability and leachability of heavy metals (Zn, Cu, Mn, Fe, Ni, Pb, Cd, and Cr) were evaluated during vermicomposting of E. crassipes employing Eisenia fetida earthworm. Five different proportions (trials 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) of cattle manure, water hyacinth, and sawdust were prepared for the vermicomposting process. Results show that very poor biomass growth of earthworms was observed in the highest proportion of water hyacinth (trial 1). The water soluble, diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) extractable, and leachable heavy metals concentration (percentage of total heavy metals) were reduced significantly in all trials except trial 1. The total concentration of some metals was low but its water soluble and DTPA extractable fractions were similar or more than other metals which were present in higher concentration. This study revealed that the toxicity of metals depends on bioavailable fraction rather than total metal concentration. Bioavailable fraction of metals may be toxic for plants and soil microorganisms. The vermicomposting of water hyacinth by E. fetida was very effective for reduction of bioavailability and leachability of selected heavy metals. Leachability test confirmed that prepared vermicompost is not hazardous for soil, plants, and human health. The feasibility of earthworms to mitigate the metal toxicity and to enhance the nutrient profile in water hyacinth vermicompost might be useful in sustainable land renovation practices at low-input basis.
KeywordsWater hyacinth Vermicomposting Heavy metals Bioavailability Leachability Bioaccumulation Biomagnification
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
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