Trace Element Uptake by Willows Used for the Phytoremediation of Biosolids.

Angela Contangelo, Juergen Esperschuetz,Brett H. Robinson

Life (Basel, Switzerland)(2023)

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The land application of biosolids can result in the unacceptable accumulation of Trace Elements (TEs) in agricultural soil and potentially introduce xenobiotics and pathogens into the food chain. Phytoremediation of biosolids aims to minimize this risk, while producing valuable biomass. Willows, well known to accumulate zinc (Zn), are used extensively in farming systems for soil conservation, shelter and as feed supplements with demonstrable health benefits. Potentially, biosolids phytoremediation could occur on marginal lands adjacent to farmlands where willows are grown for supplementary fodder. We aimed to determine the uptake and distribution of Zn and other TEs in willows grown on soils amended with biosolids and biosolids blended with biochar, with a view to their use as stock fodder. In the Canterbury Region, New Zealand, we grew 'tangaio' ( X ) in a greenhouse trial and field study. The biomass production of the willows was unaffected by biosolids and increased by the biosolids+biochar mixture. The addition of 4% biosolids (/) to the soil resulted in a foliar Zn concentration of 600-1000 mg kg, some 25 times higher than the average New Zealand pasture. Zinc concentrations were highest in the bottom leaves and increased throughout the season. Biosolids addition doubled the copper (Cu) concentration to 10 mg kg. Adding biochar to the system reduced the plant uptake of Cu and to a lesser extent Zn, while cadmium (Cd) uptake was unaffected. For Cd, Cu, and Zn, plant uptake was a function of the Ca(NO)-extractable concentration, both in greenhouse experiments and the field trial. Future work should determine the changes in plant TE uptake over several growing seasons.
biochar,cadmium,copper,phytomanagement,sewage sludge
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