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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Submissions

Changes in Microbial Biomass Parameters of a Heavy Metal-Contaminated Calcareous Soil during a Field Remediation Experiment


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 4, p. 1137-1144
    Received: Aug 1, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): pbernal@cebas.csic.es
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  1. R. Clementea,
  2. C. de la Fuentea,
  3. R. Moralb and
  4. M. P. Bernal *a
  1. a Dep. of Soil and Water Conservation and Organic Waste Management, CEBAS-CSIC, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, PO Box 164, 30100 Espinardo, Murcia, Spain
    b Dep. of Agrochemistry and Environment, Miguel Hernandez Univ., EPSO, Ctra Beniel Km 3.2, Orihuela (Alicante), Spain. R. Clemente, current address, School of Biological and Earth Sciences, Liverpool John Moores Univ., Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK


Soil microbial biomass parameters give useful information about the restoration degree and quality of contaminated soils. These parameters were studied in a field experiment where the effect of two organic amendments on the bioavailability of heavy metals in an agricultural soil and on their accumulation in Beta vulgaris and Beta maritima was assessed. The soil was a calcareous Xeric Torriorthent and the total metal levels were (mg kg−1): 2706 Zn, 3235 Pb, and 39 Cu. The treatments were: fresh cow manure, olive husk, and inorganic fertilizer as a control. Two successive crops (B. vulgaris and B. maritima) were grown on the treated and untreated plots. The soil was sampled before each planting and after each harvest over a 15-mo period. Biomass C and N increased in all plots, especially in the organically amended ones. The ratio CO2–C/biomass C decreased in olive husk and manure-treated plots, in comparison with the control, and also during the experiment, suggesting a beneficial effect of the organic amendments. In olive husk-treated plots a significant increase in the ratio of biomass C/total organic carbon (TOC) with time was observed. This indicated a reduction of heavy metal stress on the microbial population. The amendments showed, in general, a beneficial effect on soil quality and fertility, while microbial biomass parameters were found to be useful indicators of the evolution of the remediation processes.

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