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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 1, p. 49-63
    Received: Mar 31, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): basta.4@osu.edu
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Trace Element Chemistry in Residual-Treated Soil

  1. N. T. Basta *a,
  2. J. A. Ryanb and
  3. R. L. Chaneyc
  1. a School of Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210
    b National Risk Management Research Laboratory, USEPA, 26 West Martin Luther King Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45268
    c USDA-ARS Animal Manure and Byproducts Laboratory, Building 007, BARC-WEST, Beltsville, MD 20705


Trace element solubility and availability in land-applied residuals is governed by fundamental chemical reactions between metal constituents, soil, and residual components. Iron, aluminum, and manganese oxides; organic matter; and phosphates, carbonates, and sulfides are important sinks for trace elements in soil–residual systems. The pH of the soil–residual system is often the most important chemical property governing trace element sorption, precipitation, solubility, and availability. Trace element phytoavailability in residual-treated soils is often estimated using soil extraction methods. However, spectroscopic studies show that sequential extraction methods may not be accurate in perturbed soil–residual systems. Plant bioassay is the best method to measure the effect of residuals on phytoavailability. Key concepts used to describe phytoavailability are (i) the salt effect, (ii) the plateau effect, and (iii) the soil–plant barrier. Metal availability in soil from metal-salt addition is greater than availability in soil from addition of metal-containing residuals. Plant metal content displays plateaus at high residual loadings corresponding to the residual's metal concentration and sorption capacity. The soil–plant barrier limits transmission of many trace elements through the food chain, although Cd (an important human health concern) can bypass the soil–plant barrier. Results from many studies that support these key concepts provide a basis of our understanding of the relationship between trace element chemistry and phytoavailability in residual-treated soils. Research is needed to (i) determine mechanisms for trace element retention of soil–residual systems, (ii) determine the effect of residuals on ecological receptors and the ability of residuals to reduce ecotoxicity in metal-contaminated soil, and (iii) predict the long-term bioavailability of trace elements in soil–residual systems.

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Copyright © 2005. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA