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Impact of pigeon pea biochar on cadmium mobility in soil and transfer rate to leafy vegetable spinach

Abstract

Introduction of heavy metals in the environment by various anthropogenic activities has become a potential treat to life. Among the heavy metals, cadmium (Cd) shows relatively high soil mobility and has high phyto-mammalian toxicity. Integration of soil remediation and ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration in soils through organic amendments, may provide an attractive land management option for contaminated sites. The application of biochar in agriculture has recently received much attention globally due to its associated multiple benefits, particularly, long-term carbon storage in soil. However, the application of biochar from softwood crop residue for heavy metal immobilization, as an alternative to direct field application, has not received much attention. Hence, a pot experiment was conducted to study the effect of pigeon pea biochar on cadmium mobility in a soil-plant system in cadmium-spiked sandy loam soil. The biochar was prepared from pigeon pea stalk through a slow pyrolysis method at 300 °C. The experiment was designed with three levels of Cd (0, 5, and 10 mg Cd kg−1 soil) and three levels of biochar (0, 2.5, and 5 g kg−1 soil) using spinach as a test crop. The results indicate that with increasing levels of applied cadmium at 5 and 10 mg kg−1 soil, the dry matter yield (DMY) of spinach leaf decreased by 9.84 and 18.29 %, respectively. However, application of biochar (at 2.5 and 5 g kg−1 soil) significantly increased the dry matter yield of spinach leaf by 5.07 and 15.02 %, respectively, and root by 14.0 and 24.0 %, respectively, over the control. Organic carbon content in the post-harvest soil increased to 34.9 and 60.5 % due to the application of biochar 2.5 and 5 g kg−1 soil, respectively. Further, there was a reduction in the diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA)-extractable cadmium in the soil and in transfer coefficient values (soil to plant), as well as its concentrations in spinach leaf and root, indicating that cadmium mobility was decreased due to biochar application. This study shows that pigeon pea biochar has the potential to increase spinach yield and reduce cadmium mobility in contaminated sandy soil.

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Acknowledgments

The author sincerely thanks Dr. Vidhya Iyer for English language editing during manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to R. S. Parihar.

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Coumar, M.V., Parihar, R.S., Dwivedi, A.K. et al. Impact of pigeon pea biochar on cadmium mobility in soil and transfer rate to leafy vegetable spinach. Environ Monit Assess 188, 31 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-015-5028-y

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Keywords

  • Biochar
  • Cadmium
  • Pigeon pea
  • Spinach
  • Heavy metal transfer