Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 1653–1661 | Cite as

Nutrient phytoavailability in a mine soil amended with technosol and biochar and vegetated with Brassica juncea

  • Alfonso Rodríguez-Vila
  • Rubén Forján
  • Rafael S. Guedes
  • Emma F. Covelo
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Mine soils usually have low nutrient contents and poor fertility conditions which limit the establishment of vegetation and the application of phytomanagement reclamation technologies. Organic materials have been used as soil amendments to reclaim mine soils, as they can provide organic matter and nutrients.

Materials and methods

An amendment mixture made from organic materials (technosol made of waste and holm oak wood biochar) was added in different proportions to a mine soil in order to evaluate its effect on the phytoavailability of nutrients and on the fertility conditions of the mine soil. A greenhouse experiment was carried out in pots with the mine soil amended with the mixture of technosol and biochar and vegetated with Brassica juncea L. plants. The mine soil was collected from the settling pond of a depleted copper mine in Touro (NW Spain). The CaCl2-extractable (phytoavailable) concentration of nutrients and a series of characteristics generally associated with soil fertility were determined in order to study the effect of the organic amendment on the mine soil.

Results and discussion

The results showed that the untreated settling pond soil had an extremely acid pH (2.96), undetectable concentrations of TC, and insufficient levels of TN and K for the growth of most plant species. Amending with technosol and biochar increased the concentration of TN (from an undetectable concentration to 11,400 mg kg−1), K (from 4.22 to 2601 mg kg−1), Mg (from 185 to 2329 mg kg−1), Mn (from 14.56 to 408 mg kg−1) and Na (from 27.66 to 2361 mg kg−1) in the mine soil. The application of wastes also reduced the phytoavailable concentration of Co, Cu, Fe and Ni. However, the concentration of Zn increased, probably due to the Zn provided by technosol components such as sewage sludges.


The application of technosol and biochar to a mine soil improved its fertility conditions, the phytoavailable concentration of nutrients in the soil and generally decreased metal bioavailability, resulting in a reduction of copper toxicity. Organic amending also promoted the re-establishment of vegetation. The use of technosol made of wastes and biochar combined with planting B. juncea could be an economic and environmentally-friendly technique for the reclamation of nutrient-deficient mine soils.


Biochar Brassica juncea Mine soil Nutrients Technosol 



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 conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 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

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