Soil protection and remediation

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Unlisted

Abstract

The way soils are managed (fertilisers, pH control, waste additions and organic matter inputs) affects the soil environment. This can affect vital soil functions such as nutrient cycling and the degradation of organic pollutants and therefore the sustainability of agricultural systems. For example, contaminants such as heavy metals/metalloids and persistent organic pollutants accumulate in soils and threaten the sustainability of soil functions, but their bioavailability is poorly understood. Heavy metal/metalloid toxicity in soils is influenced by a number of factors such as the type of organism, soil properties, aging processes and the chemical speciation of the metal. Our objective is to understand the molecular and ecological basis of these interactions, using unique, well-equilibrated field experiments available to Rothamsted. We will examine the link between microbial diversity of key functional groups, gene expression and their activity in soil, as affected by environmental factors, including metal/metalloid speciation in soil using advanced HPLC-ICP-MS and synchrotron radiation X-ray absorption spectrometry techniques, and to quantify the factors controlling toxicity for use in either empirical or mechanistic models. Functional gene microarray approaches, pyrosequencing of soil DNA, and the use of fully sequenced model organisms, such as Pseudomonas putida which has catabolic activity for some organic contaminants, will be employed on soils which differ in their management, soil properties and contamination status to test under which conditions soil functions break down. We will also test the hypothesis that the spatial location of contaminants affects the observed toxicity and function of soils.

Publications

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Donner E (2015) Non-labile silver species in biosolids remain stable throughout 50 years of weathering and ageing. in Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

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Hartley TN (2013) Historical arsenic contamination of soil due to long-term phosphate fertiliser applications. in Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

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Jones GD (2017) Selenium deficiency risk predicted to increase under future climate change. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

 
Description Increasing the concentrations of the essential micronutrient Zn in staple crops like grain is desirable for human nutrition. We investigated the long-term ability of municipal treatment works sewage sludge, liquid sewage sludge and ZnCO3 applied to soils to increase Zn in in wheat grain

(Triticum aestivum L.) in a number of field experiments conducted on different soils.

Conclusions Sewage sludge applications to soil can increase grain Zn concentrations for at least 2 to 8 years after application and has similar effectiveness to ZnCO3.



2)Nitrogen (N) nutrition is a critical factor in zinc (Zn) acquisition and its allocation into grain of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Most of the information collected about this topic is, however, derived from the pot experiments. It is also not known whether optimal N management by decreasing N input

could affect the Zn status in grain and plant in the field. The aim of this research is to investigate the impact of N management on grain and shoot Zn status of winter wheat. Results showed applying N at optimal rate maiintained or resulted in significantly higher grain Zn concentration and especially grain content of Zn compared to no or lower N treatments.

Further increasing N supply from optimal to excessive N supply resulted in nonsignificant increases in grain Zn concentration and content. Generally, similar trends were also found in shoot Zn. Moreover, 72 % to 100 % of the shoot Zn requirement had been accumulated at anthesis, and accordingly 67 % to 100 % of grain Zn content was provided by Zn remobilization from pre-anthesis Zn uptake with N supply. Grain Zn accumulation mainly originates from Zn remobilization and the optimal N management would ensure better shoot Zn nutrition to contribute to increasing Zn remobilization from vegetative tissues and to maintain relatively higher grain
Sectors Agriculture/ Food and Drink

 
Description EU REACH Environmental risk assessment for metals and metal compounds.
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Impact Guidance on information requirements and chemical safety assessment . Our results were used to provide the basis for bioavailability Appendix R.7.13-2: Environmental risk assessment for metals and metal compounds. This document describes the information requirements under REACH with regard to substance properties, exposure, uses and risk management measures, and the chemical safety assessment. It is part of a series of guidance documents that are aimed to help all stakeholders with their preparation for fulfilling their obligations under the REACH regulation. These documents cover detailed guidance for a range of essential REACH processes as well as for some specific scientific and/or technical methods that industry or authorities need to make use of under REACH. The guidance documents were drafted and discussed within the REACH Implementation Projects (RIPs) led by the European Commission services, involving stakeholders from Member States, industry and non-governmental organisations. These guidance documents can be obtained via the website of the European Chemicals Agency (http://echa.europa.eu/reach_en.asp ). Further guidance documents will be published on this website when they are finalised or updated. This document relates to the REACH Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 20061
 
Description FOOD-CT-2006-016253 EU project on Public Health impact of long-term low-level mixed element exposure in susceptible population strata
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
Impact http://phime.oikon.hr/Portals/0/documents/PHIME_Final_Report.pdf
URL http://phime.oikon.hr/Portals/0/documents/PHIME_Final_Report.pdf
 
Description Effect of long-term equilibration on the toxicity of molybdenum to soil organisms 
Organisation Free University of Amsterdam
Country Netherlands, Kingdom of the 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Experiment shows natural attenuation of molybdate ecotoxicity under field conditions is related to leaching of excess Mo and other ions as well as to slow ageing reactions
Start Year 2008
 
Description Effects of treatments and cropping on Si removal from soil 
Organisation Aix-Marseille University
Country France, French Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Published a collaborative paper entitle ?Long-term removal of wheat straw decreases soil amorphous silica at Broadbalk, Rothamsted? and this work included interesting information on soils from Hoosfield, but the publication did not have the plant material from Hoosfield to analyse. We wish to analyse this plant material to investigate the hypothesis that cropping and exports of straw leads to depletion of Si-containing phytoliths in soil.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Effects of treatments and cropping on Si removal from soil 
Organisation European Centre for Research and Teaching of Environmental Geosciences (CEREGE)
Country France, French Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Investigate the hypothesis that cropping and exports of straw leads to depletion of Si-containing phytoliths in soil.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Geochemical Analysis of Archived Samples of the National Soil Inventory Archive for England and Wales 
Organisation British Geological Survey
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Materials to be transferred from Rothamsted Research to BGS and to be returned by BGS to Rothamsted Research: 1) 6000 grid-based samples of topsoils of England and Wales taken from sampling coordinates (x,y) on the UK National Grid 2) an electronic data file of the unique sample number and georeference co-ordinates for the soil samples
Start Year 2008
 
Description Increasing Grain Zn in Wheat by the Application of Sewage Sludge 
Organisation ADAS
Department ADAS Gleadthorpe Poultry Research Centre
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Sludge cake Zn can increase grain Zn concentrations for at least 2 to 8 years after application to soil at three sites, but the differences detected between sources of Zn were small in practical terms.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Increasing Grain Zn in Wheat by the Application of Sewage Sludge 
Organisation WRc plc
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Sludge cake Zn can increase grain Zn concentrations for at least 2 to 8 years after application to soil at three sites, but the differences detected between sources of Zn were small in practical terms.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Investigation and optimisation of metal immobilisation in biosolids 
Organisation Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE)
Country Australia, Commonwealth of 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Objective of this research programme is to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms controlling the fixation of contaminants in biosolids. This knowledge will then be exploited to design sludge treatment processes by which the risk posed by key contaminants can be reduced. This will be achieved by utilising industrial by/co-products as fixing agents. The optimised biosolids will then be tested for their agronomic performance as well as for the residual risk which they may pose.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Investigation and optimisation of metal immobilisation in biosolids 
Organisation University of South Australia
Department Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation (CERAR)
Country Australia, Commonwealth of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Objective of this research programme is to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms controlling the fixation of contaminants in biosolids. This knowledge will then be exploited to design sludge treatment processes by which the risk posed by key contaminants can be reduced. This will be achieved by utilising industrial by/co-products as fixing agents. The optimised biosolids will then be tested for their agronomic performance as well as for the residual risk which they may pose.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Investigation of copper and zinc distribution,speciation and potential bioavailability in biosolids 
Organisation Australian Synchrotron
Country Australia, Commonwealth of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution These data suggest that the results of historical field trials are still relevant for modern biosolids and that further risk assessment studies should concentrate particularly on Cu as this metal is associated with the mineralisable biosolids fraction
Start Year 2008
 
Description Investigation of copper and zinc distribution,speciation and potential bioavailability in biosolids 
Organisation Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Country Australia, Commonwealth of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution These data suggest that the results of historical field trials are still relevant for modern biosolids and that further risk assessment studies should concentrate particularly on Cu as this metal is associated with the mineralisable biosolids fraction.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Investigation of copper and zinc distribution,speciation and potential bioavailability in biosolids 
Organisation University of South Australia
Country Australia, Commonwealth of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution These data suggest that the results of historical field trials are still relevant for modern biosolids and that further risk assessment studies should concentrate particularly on Cu as this metal is associated with the mineralisable biosolids fraction.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Long term soil impact assessment associated with application of sewage sludge 
Organisation Cranfield University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The primary objective of this research project is to investigate any long term impact of persistence of Cd, Cu, Zn, Pb, Ni and heavy metal pollutants and of Triclosan, nonylphenols, linear alkyl benzene sulphonate (LAS) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) as mircopollutants in soils that have received sewage sludge for many years. This research programme involves the collection and characterisation of a wide range of soils from ADAS trial sites, United Utilities land bank, Silsoe, Woburn etc. The requested samples will be from the Woburn Market Garden Experiment (W/RN/4) Series A and they will be included in this study during which the key mechanisms for heavy metal and micropollutant dynamics in soils will be investigated
Start Year 2012
 
Description Long term soil impact assessment associated with application of sewage sludge 
Organisation Cranfield University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will collect soil samples from the Woburn site and analyse them for the above mentioned heavy metals and organic micropollutants. The aim of the aspect of the work is to investigate any long term impact of persistence of these pollutants in soils that have received sewage sludge for many years. These pollutants have been identified as priority pollutants by the UK Water industry. Aspects of this work are also related to other component of this project which will provide information on fate and transport and risk assessment associated with these pollutants. In a similar manner soil samples will also be collected from other sites throughout UK and analysed for the same pollutant to provide a comparative assessment. This project is funded by the EU FP7 framework involved a consortium of 15 members from 5 nations across the EU.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Means Regional risk assessment of Ni 
Organisation European Academy for Standardisation (EURAS)
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Geo-referenced Ni, pH, eCEC and organic carbon data for soils of England and Wales
Start Year 2009
 
Description Modelling iodine uptake by grass swards. 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Develop a predictive model of iodine transfer to grazing ruminants, from environmental characteristics (soil, climate data etc) and land management regimes. This requires investigation of the underlying mechanisms which control iodine retention and bioavailability in soils.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Regional risk assessment of Ni and Cu in soil 
Organisation WCA Environment Ltd
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Geo-referenced Ni, pH, eCEC and organic carbon data for soils of England and Wales
Start Year 2009
 
Description Toxicity of molybdenum to soil organisms 
Organisation ARCHE (Assessing Risks of Chemicals)
Country Belgium, Kingdom of 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Experiment shows natural attenuation of molybdate ecotoxicity under field conditions is related to leaching of excess Mo and other ions as well as to slow ageing reactions
Start Year 2008
 
Description Toxicity of molybdenum to soil organisms 
Organisation University of Leuven
Country Belgium, Kingdom of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Experiment shows natural attenuation of molybdate ecotoxicity under field conditions is related to leaching of excess Mo and other ions as well as to slow ageing reactions
Start Year 2008
 
Description Arsenic in rice 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Tak sparked questions an ddiscussions

None to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description BBC Three Counties Radio, Rothamsted Impact in Environment and Ecology Research, August. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Crop deficiencies: Sulphur and micronutrients. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Information shared, discussions ensued

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Demonstration plots at Cereals Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description HGCA Annual Agronomists Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk on micronutrient uptake by crops

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description HGCA results question value of micronutrient use 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research or patient groups
Results and Impact Article in micronutrient work in Farmers Weekly Magazine, 8th March 2013 Crops being grown on trial sites known to be at risk from deficiencies failed to show a yield benefit from foliar applications, which were used at rates recommended for a severe deficiency

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Heavy metals/metalloids important to human health 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talked sparked questions and discussions afterwards

None as far as aware
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Invited paper at Sino-European Symposium on Environment and Health 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Remediation of contaminated soils in the EU is evolving, and this presentation will focus on heavy metal issues in particular. The most important factors to consider are: 1) ecological risk, 2) human risk and 3) the important soil and environmental factors that determine the bioavailability and therefore the potential for toxicity. In Europe, old "guideline values" used generically for deciding whether land is contaminated are being replaced by evidence- and risk-based and site-specific soil screening values. Progress has been made in incorporating those soil factors that affect potential toxicity and also the important impact of "aging" of pollutants in soil. The overall aim was to predict the "safe" concentrations of metals that can accumulate in soils without negative biological effects on soil organisms; these are termed the Predicted No Effect Concentrations (PNEC). Soils above these concentrations can be assessed over wide geographical areas, or on specific sites, to make rational decisions firstly over whether further investigation is required and then if soil remediation is necessary. They can also be used in risk assessment of chemicals (REACH) to determine whether there are problems with specific chemicals and whether any controls are needed in the production, use and management of potentially toxic chemicals. Finally, epidemiology and evidence of the factors affecting transfer into foodstuffs is used to determine the risk to humans and to prioritise the potentially toxic elements those pose most risk to consumers, often resulting in regulations for maximum concentrations in foodstuffs. abstract

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Manipulating micronutrients in grain for human health" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussions afterwards

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Molecular and physiological approaches to reduce accumulation of non-nutritive elements in grain for improved human health. Inaugural meeting of EU COST 0905 . Antlya, Turkey 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The main objective of this Action is to evaluate and substantiate the scientific knowledge relevant for GMT biosafety protocols by putting together already existing information generated in various European countries as basis for future EU policy and regulation for the environmental impact assessment and the safe development and practical use of GMTs.

Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of a European Concerted Research Action designated as COST Action FP0905: Biosafety of forest transgenic trees: improving the scientific basis for safe tree development and implementation of EU policy directives
Delegations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description National Science Foundation/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Participant and poster presentation at Workshop in Bosten USA on Soil Bio Interactions and Engineering poster

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Open Day- Selenium in our diet and Arsenic in our rice 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of the public were very interested in finding out more about where to find essential elements for their health

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Plant responses to increasing metal concentrations in soil 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussions afterwards

unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description RRES Open Weekend. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact UNKNOWN
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Selenium in our daily bread- getting it right from the soil upwards. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk sparked questiond and discussions afterwards

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Selenium in soils and the need for biofortification of crops 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact talk sparked discussion and questions afterwards

unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Soil Quality and Sustainability 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussions afterwards

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Soil Quality and Sustainability 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussions afterwards

Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Sulphur and trace elements. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussions afterwards

unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Sulphur, micronutrients and selenium for crops 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparkedd questions and discussions afterwards

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This work was included as part of a larger exhibition highlighting the importance of biodiversity in soil: http://www.seefurtherfestival.org/exhibition/view/journey-centre-earth-first-23cm. http://royalsociety.org/summer-science/2010/journey-to-centre-of-earth/

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://royalsociety.org/summer-science/2010/journey-to-centre-of-earth/
 
Description Too good to waste? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Article in The Guardian on line Article on www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/29/waste.recycling

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
URL http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/29/waste.recycling
 
Description Trace benefit from trace elements? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Article in Crop Production Magazine on our Micronutrient work

no actual impacts realised to date
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description What's new in Zinc nutrition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011