Phytoremediation of Agricultural Soils: Using Plants to Clean Metal-Contaminated Arable Land

  • Sarah Neilson
  • Nishanta RajakarunaEmail author


Heavy metals pose a significant threat to arable land around the world. We describe the dangers of heavy metal contamination in agricultural settings and discuss methods of assessing the risk of metal contamination in agricultural soils and crop plants. We propose remediation options such as phytoextraction and the use of soil amendments as well as non-remediation options such as growing fuel and fiber crops or food crops that exclude metal from edible tissue. We conclude by discussing the potential for genetic modification to reduce metal uptake in food crops and highlighting directions for future research.


Green technology Habitat restoration Heavy metal tolerance Metal uptake Metal toxicity Phytoremediation Plant-soil relations Soil remediation 



We would like to thank Dr. Robert S. Boyd (Auburn University, AL, USA) and Mr. Tanner B. Harris (WRA Environmental Consultants, CA, USA) for their careful review of the manuscript.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Natural and Biological SciencesCopenhagen UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden StreetBar HarborUSA
  3. 3.Unit for Environmental Sciences and ManagementNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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