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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 3, p. 1026-1035
    Received: June 18, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): jingwer@uni-hohenheim.de
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A Regional-Scale Study on the Crop Uptake of Cadmium from Sandy Soils

  1. Joachim Ingwersen * and
  2. Thilo Streck
  1. University of Hohenheim, Institute of Soil Science and Land Evaluation, Biogeophysics Section, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany


Plant uptake is one of the major pathways by which cadmium (Cd) in soils enters the human food chain. This study was conducted to investigate the uptake of Cd by crops from soils within the wastewater irrigation area (WIA) of Braunschweig (Germany) and to develop a simple process-oriented model that is suited to predict Cd uptake at the regional scale. The sandy soils within the WIA (4300 ha) have received considerable loads of heavy metals by irrigation using municipal wastewater for up to 40 years. In 1998 and 1999, we sampled soil and plant material at 40 potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), 40 sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.), and 32 winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) fields. In both years and for all three crops, we found close linear relationships between the Cd content of plant material and the Cd concentration in soil solution. For all three crops, we observed a trend of relatively increased Cd uptake in the year with the higher saturation deficit of the atmosphere. We interpret this to indicate that transpiration plays an important role in the Cd uptake of crops under the conditions of the WIA. In modeling the uptake of Cd by crops, we assume that uptake is proportional to mass flow, that is, the product of water transpired, Cd concentration in soil solution, and a plant-specific empirical parameter. The simulations agreed well with the observed Cd contents in crops. Our model explained between 66 and 87% of the observed variance.

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