Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 17, pp 10377–10385 | Cite as

The influence of long-term fertilization on cadmium (Cd) accumulation in soil and its uptake by crops

  • Qingyun Wang
  • Jiabao ZhangEmail author
  • Bingzi Zhao
  • Xiuli Xin
  • Congzhi Zhang
  • Hailin Zhang
Research Article


Continuous application of organic and inorganic fertilizers can affect soil and food quality with respect to heavy metal concentrations. The risk of cadmium (Cd) contamination in a long-term (over 20 years) experimental field in North China with an annual crop rotation of winter wheat and summer maize was investigated. The long-term experiment had a complete randomized block design with seven fertilizer treatments and four replications. The seven fertilizer treatments were (1) organic compost (OM), (2) half organic compost plus half chemical fertilizer (OM + NPK), (3) NPK fertilizer (NPK), (4–6) chemical fertilizers without one of the major nutrients (NP, PK, and NK), and (7) an unamended control (CK). Soil samples from 0 to 20 cm were collected in 1989, 1999, and 2009 to characterize Cd and other soil properties. During the past 20 years, various extents of Cd accumulation were observed in the soil, and the accumulation was mainly affected by atmospheric dry and wet deposition and fertilization. In 2009, the average Cd concentration in the soil was 148 ± 15 μg kg−1 and decreased in the order of NPK ≈ OM + NKP ≈ PK > NP ≈ NK > OM ≈ CK. Sequential extraction of Cd showed that the acid-soluble fraction (F1, 32 ± 7 %) and the residual fraction (F4, 31 ± 5 %) were the dominant fractions of Cd in the soil, followed by the reducible fraction (F2, 22 ± 5 %) and oxidizable fraction (F3, 15 ± 6 %). The acid-soluble Cd fraction in the soil and Cd accumulation in the crops increased with soil plant available K. Fraction F3 was increased by soil organic C (SOC) and crop yields, but SOC reduced the uptake of soil Cd by crops. The long-term P fertilization resulted in more Cd buildup in the soil than other treatments, but the uptake of Cd by crops was inhibited by the precipitation of Cd with phosphate in the soil. Although soil Cd was slightly increased over the 20 years of intensive crop production, both soil and grain/kernel Cd concentrations were still below the national standards for environmental and food safety.


Long-term fertilization Soil Cd (Cadmium) Accumulation Fraction changes Uptake by crops 



This study was funded by National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2011CB100506), China Agriculture Research System-Wheat (CARS-03-02A), and the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX2-EW-N-08). The authors would like to thank Prof. Jingfang Wang for valuable assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingyun Wang
    • 1
  • Jiabao Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bingzi Zhao
    • 1
  • Xiuli Xin
    • 1
  • Congzhi Zhang
    • 1
  • Hailin Zhang
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  2. 2.The Department of Plant and Soil SciencesOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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