Total and available metal concentrations in soils from six long-term fertilization sites across China

Abstract

Approximately 19% of agricultural soils in China are contaminated by heavy metals. However, the effects of agricultural management practices on soil contamination are not well understood. Taking advantage of six long-term (23–34 years) field sites across China, this study examined the effects of different agricultural fertilization treatments, including control (no fertilization), inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilization (NPK), manure fertilization (M), and NPK plus manure fertilization (NPKM), on the total and available metal concentrations in soils. The results showed that after 23–34 years of fertilization, the M and NPKM treatments significantly increased the total concentration of cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn) in soils compared with the concentrations measured for the control and NPK treatments. In contrast, the fertilization treatments had almost no influence on soil lead (Pb) and nickel (Ni) concentrations. The results of analysis via diffusive gradients in thin films demonstrated that long-term sheep or cattle manure fertilization increased the available metals, especially Cd, Cu, and Zn, but long-term swine manure application decreased the available metals, except for Cu and Zn, in soils. Further analysis revealed that the manure source, soil pH level, and biogeochemical properties of metals affected the availability of Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, and Ni in soils. Collectively, organic fertilizers had the potential to reduce metal uptake by crops, but caution should be taken to reduce metal concentrations in manure.

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Funding

This work was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFD0800803) and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M601770 and 2017T100350).

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Correspondence to Guang-Hui Yu.

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Responsible editor: Zhihong Xu

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Guan, DX., Sun, FS., Yu, GH. et al. Total and available metal concentrations in soils from six long-term fertilization sites across China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 31666–31678 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-3143-3

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Keywords

  • Bioavailability
  • Diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT)
  • Heavy metals
  • Long-term fertilization experiment
  • Organic manures