Using wood chips for the protection of plants and soil from the harmful effects of road salt


In this study, the use of a new system made of natural wood absorbers (Salix viminalis) is proposed as a tool to protect plants, groundwater and soil from the adverse effects of de-icing salt. The toxic effects of road de-icing salt on soils, groundwater and plant growth have concerned environmental scientists, especially ecologists, for decades and have already been the subject of many studies. In terms of both time and cost, sodium chloride is widely regarded as the most effective chemical for de-icing roads and pavements. The protection of roadside plants is mainly achieved by using physical barriers with a limited capacity to retain road salt. Willow chips were packed into three systems: separated micro-columns, separated micro-columns with retention cups, and a monolayer column. Each system eliminated some of the salt from a brine solution such that only low-salinity water penetrated into the soil. The efficiency of road salt uptake varied from 31–95% depending on the system. The efficiency of the system was determined based on the salt content measured in the absorber collected after winter. Soil contamination by de-icing salt and the migration of different ions in groundwater were beyond the scope of this study.

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This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Poland) under Grant POIR.01.01.01-00-1254/15.

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Correspondence to Jarosław Kozak.

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Spisak, W., Chlebicki, A., Wołowski, K. et al. Using wood chips for the protection of plants and soil from the harmful effects of road salt. Eur. J. Wood Prod. 78, 1209–1219 (2020).

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