The effect of heavy metals on the nutritional value of Alfalfa: comparison of nutrients and heavy metals of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) in industrial and non-industrial areas

  • Mohammad Rezaeian
  • Mahmoud Tohidi MoghadamEmail author
  • Mohammad Mehdi Kiaei
  • Homayoun Mahmuod Zadeh
Original Article


The aim of this study is to compare the nutritional value of Alfalfa and accumulation of heavy metals in the farms near and far from the industrial regions. Three regions were considered located at 2, 32 and 65 km distances from an industrial region, and the nutrient content of the Alfalfa including crude protein, crude fiber, crude fat, nitrogen-free extract, and Ash as well as soil and plant heavy metals was determined. The results showed no significant difference in the value of nutrients in the three regions except nitrogen-free extract (mainly starch and sugars). A positive correlation was observed between nitrogen-free extract and lead, chromium, and arsenic (p ≤ 0.05). In addition, the highest accumulations of heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, lead and cadmium were found in soil and Alfalfa produced at 2 km distance from the industrial area. The lead and cadmium concentrations were higher than the maximum allowable agricultural soil concentration in the areas near industrial region; the accumulation of these metals in the Alfalfa was however lower than the cattle and plant risk levels. The distribution of heavy metals in the Alfalfa cultivated in these three areas (zinc > copper > lead > chromium > arsenic > cadmium) did not coincide with the average of these metals in the soils (lead > zinc > chromium > copper > cadmium > arsenic). The positive correlation was also recorded between electrical conductivity of agricultural soils and copper, lead, chromium and arsenic content of Alfalfa. The highest translocation factors of arsenic, chromium and lead elements were detected in industrial areas. For copper and zinc, the highest translocation factor was found in non- industrial areas. The results of this study can be applied as an important control program in different areas.


Nutrients Heavy metals Alfalfa Agricultural soils 



Dry matter


Crude protein


Crude fiber


Ether extract or crude fat


Nitrogen-free extract


Electrical conductivity


Total organic matter















This research was funded by the faculty of veterinary medicine, University of Tehran, Iran (Project Number: 51035) and conducted at the nutrition lab of department of animal and poultry health and nutrition. The authors deeply appreciate Ms. Honarzad for her cooperation in chemical analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

43188_2019_12_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Korean Society of Toxicology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Rezaeian
    • 1
  • Mahmoud Tohidi Moghadam
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohammad Mehdi Kiaei
    • 1
  • Homayoun Mahmuod Zadeh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Poultry Health and Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of TehranTehranIran

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