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Importance of soil-water relations in assessing the endpoint of bioremediated soils

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Much effort has been focused on defining the end-point of bioremediated soils by chemical analysis toxicity tests. However, these tests do not assess the quality, or the capability, of soil to support plant growth after bioremediation. We studied the response of plants to hydrocarbon contaminants by camparing barley (Hordeum vulgare) growth on: (i) control soil, agricultural topsoil, (ii) oil-contaminated soil (40,000 mg kg−1 total extractable hydrocarbons, or TEH), and (iii) oil-contaminated soil treated by bioremediation (20,000 mg kg−1 TEH). Barley growth and yield was significantly reduced by oil-contamination. Bioremediation did not improve yield of barley and shoot dry mass was slightly reduced after bioremediation. The lack of effect from bioremediation is attributed to poor soil water sorption, which was negatively influenced by hydrocarbon residuals. We concluded that the soil-water relation is one of the most important factors in assessing endpoint of bioremediated soils for plant growth.

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Li, X., Feng, Y. & Sawatsky, N. Importance of soil-water relations in assessing the endpoint of bioremediated soils. Plant and Soil 192, 219–226 (1997).

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