Southern China is an important agricultural production base, as well as an important mineral resource area. There is a big challenge of heavy metal pollution in the soils of this area. Base on the characterizations of cotton and our present results, we discussed the potentiality to remediate the heavy metal-polluted soils through planting cotton in southern China.
Materials and methods
This paper summarises recent research to provide a better understanding of the status and the causes of heavy metal pollution in southern China, compare the applicability of different remediation methods in this area, evaluate tolerance and accumulation of cotton to heavy metals, and discuss the socioeconomic benefits of cotton planting for remediation of heavy metal-polluted soils.
Results and discussion
Human activity could be causing heavy metal pollution in southern China, as lead pollution is the most prevalent and cadmium pollution is the most severe in this area. Physical and chemical methods are used to remediate the heavy metal-polluted soils in southern China, by which treated polluted soils could not satisfactorily address the problems of economic feasibility, “secondary damage” and “secondary pollution”. The use of plants can green the environment to a certain extent, so the phytoremediation method is widely accepted. Cotton does not reach the standard of hyperaccumulation plants but has a relatively large biomass and shows more excellent tolerance ability and enrichment ability to heavy metals. Especially, the Cd concentration is lower in cotton fibre than in other cotton organs.
Cotton may be a potential crop to ameliorate the heavy metal pollution of farmland in southern China. In addition, cotton remediation combining with multiple repair measures of heavy metal pollution would obtain better repair effect and ecological benefits, and agronomic management practices could also effectively enhance cotton-remedied heavy metal-polluted soils.
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This study was supported financially by the fund for Modern Agro-industry Technology Research System (CARS-18-05; CARS-18-17) and Central Public-interest Scientific Institution Basal Research Fund.
Responsible editor: Jizheng He
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Ma, X., Zheng, C., Li, W. et al. Potential use of cotton for remediating heavy metal-polluted soils in southern China. J Soils Sediments 17, 2866–2872 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-017-1697-1
- Heavy metal
- Soil remediation
- Southern China