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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 37 No. 4, p. 1439-1446
    Received: Apr 22, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): kenneth.reardon@colostate.edu
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Effects of Agronomic Practices on Phytoremediation of an Aged PAH-Contaminated Soil

  1. Paul E. Olsonabd,
  2. Ana Castroabd,
  3. Mark Joerna,
  4. Nancy M. DuTeauc,
  5. Elizabeth Pilon-Smitsa and
  6. Kenneth F. Reardon *a
  1. a Dep. of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523
    b Dep. of Biology, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523
    d contributed equally to this work
    c Dep. of Microbiology, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523


Phytoremediation offers an ecologically and economically attractive remediation technique for soils contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In addition to the choice of plant species, agronomic practices may affect the efficiency of PAH phytoremediation. Inorganic nutrient amendments may stimulate plant and microbial growth, and clipping aboveground biomass might stimulate root turnover, which has been associated with increases in soil microbial populations. To assess the influence of fertilization and clipping on PAH dissipation in a nutrient-poor, aged PAH-contaminated soil, a 14-mo phytoremediation study was conducted using perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) as a model species. Six soil treatments were performed in replicate: unplanted; unplanted and fertilized; planted; planted and fertilized; planted and clipped; and planted, clipped, and fertilized. Plant growth, soil PAH concentrations, and the concentrations of total and PAH-degrading microorganisms were measured after 7 and 14 mo. Overall, planting (with nearly 80% reduction in total PAHs) and planting + clipping (76% reduction in total PAHs) were the most effective treatments for increased PAH dissipation after 14 mo. Fertilization greatly stimulated plant and total microbial growth, but negatively affected PAH dissipation (29% reduction in total PAHs). Furthermore, unplanted and fertilized soils revealed a similar negative impact (25% reduction) on PAH dissipation after 14 mo. Clipping did not directly affect PAH dissipation, but when combined with fertilization (61% reduction in total PAHs), appeared to mitigate the negative impact of fertilization on PAH dissipation. Therefore, fertilization and clipping may be included in phytoremediation design strategies, as their combined effect stimulates plant growth while not affecting PAH dissipation.

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Copyright © 2008. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America