Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Heavy metal leaching and environmental risk from the use of compost-like output as an energy crop growth substrate

Page, K., Harbottle, M. J. ORCID:, Cleall, P. J. ORCID: and Hutchings, T. R. 2014. Heavy metal leaching and environmental risk from the use of compost-like output as an energy crop growth substrate. Science of the Total Environment 487 , pp. 260-271. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.04.021

[thumbnail of OA-20142015-01.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Conversion of productive agricultural land towards growth of energy crops has become increasingly controversial. Closed landfill sites represent significant areas of brownfield land, which have potential for the establishment of energy crops. Increasingly composts are now being produced from the degradable fraction of mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) and are commonly referred to as Compost-Like-Output (CLO). However, leaching of heavy metal and other elements due to the use of CLO as soil amendment has the potential to pose a risk to the wider environment as a diffuse pollution source if not managed correctly. Salix viminalis and Eucalyptus nitens were grown at 5 different CLO application rates (equivalent to 250, 1000, 3000, 6000, 10000 kg N/Ha) with weekly leachate analysis to assess the solubility of heavy metals and the potential release into the environment. The change in plant total dry mass suggested 3000 kg N/Ha as the optimum application rate for both species. Weekly leachate analysis identified excess soluble ions within the first 4 weeks, with heavy metals concentrations exceeding water quality limits at the higher application rates (> 3000 kg N/Ha). Heavy metal uptake and accumulation within each species was also investigated; S. viminalis accumulated greater levels of heavy metals than E. nitens with a general trend of metal accumulation in root > stem > leaf material. Heavy metal leaching from soils amended with CLO has the potential to occur at neutral and slightly alkaline pH levels as a result of the high buffering capacity of CLO. The use of CLO at application rates of greater than 250 kg N/Ha may be limited to sites with leachate collection and containment systems, not solely for the heavy metal leaching but also excess nitrogen leaching. Alternatively lower application rates are required but will also limit biomass production.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Heavy metals; Nitrogen; Compost-Like-Output; Salix viminalis; Eucalyptus nitens; Energy crops
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0048-9697
Funders: EPSRC, Forest Research
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 6 June 2014
Last Modified: 08 May 2023 13:01

Citation Data

Cited 44 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics