25 May 2020

25 May 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Modelling of long term Zn, Cu, Cd, Pb dynamics from soils fertilized with organic amendments

Claudia Cagnarini1,2, Stephen Lofts3, Luigi Paolo D'Acqui4, Jochen Mayer5, Roman Grüter6, Susan Tandy6,8, Rainer Schulin6, Benjamin Costerousse7, Simone Orlandini1, and Giancarlo Renella9 Claudia Cagnarini et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Agrarie, Alimentari, Ambientali e Forestali (DAGRI), Piazzale delle Cascine, 18, 50144 Firenze, Italy
  • 2UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, United Kingdom
  • 3UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, United Kingdom
  • 4Istituto di Ricerca sugli Ecosistemi Terrestri, CNR, Area della Ricerca di Firenze, Via Madonna del Piano 10, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy
  • 5Agroscope, Dept Agroecology and Environment, Reckenholzstrasse 191, 8046 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 6Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 7Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH, Universitätstrasse 2, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 8Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB, United Kingdom
  • 9Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural Resources, Animals and Environment (DAFNAE), viale dell'Università 16, 35020 Legnaro (Pd), Italy

Abstract. Soil contamination by trace elements (TEs) is a major concern for sustainable land management. One potential source of excessive inputs of TEs into agricultural soils are organic amendments. Here, we use dynamic simulations carried out with the IDMM-ag model to describe observed trends of topsoil Zn, Cu, Pb and Cd concentrations in a long-term crop trial in Switzerland, where soils plots have been treated with differing organic amendments, particularly farmyard manure, sewage sludge and compost. IDMM-ag requires the definition of a parsimonious set of boundary conditions.

The model adequately reproduced the metal EDTA-extractable concentrations in ZOFE when site-specific soil lateral mixing, due to mechanically ploughing of small plots, was introduced. Calibration of an additional metal input flux was necessary to fit the measured data, indicating that knowledge gaps in quantifying historical metal inputs can affect field-scale simulations even in a well-characterized field. Projections of soil metal content in the long-term showed that, under stable organic amendment application rates, Zn and Cu labile concentrations might pose toxicological hazard for the soil ecosystem, particularly in the sewage sludge-amended plots. The sewage sludge topsoil was characterized by some variability in the organic matter composition, potentially due to the applied sewage sludge quality, which might affect the metal lability: this effect should be accounted for in models.

This study takes a step forward in assessing potential and limitations of the IDMM-ag model to predict TEs long-term dynamics in agricultural fields, paving the way to quantitative applications of TEs modelling at field and larger scales.

Claudia Cagnarini et al.

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Claudia Cagnarini et al.

Claudia Cagnarini et al.


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Short summary
Application of organic amendments, althought is considered a sustainable form of soil fertilization, may cause accumulation of trace elements (TEs), including toxic metals, in the topsoil. In this research we analyzed the concentration of zinc, copper, lead and cadmium in a > 60 yr experiment in Switzerland and showed that the dynamic model IDMM-ag reasonably predicted the hystorical TEs concentrations in plots amended with farmyard manure, sewage sludge and compost.