Main content area

Heavy Metal Content of Arable Soils in Northern Belgium

De Temmerman, L., Vanongeval, L., Boon, W., Hoenig, M., Geypens, M.
Water, air, and soil pollution 2003 v.148 no.1-4 pp. 61-76
arable soils, arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, calcium, carbon, chromium, clay soils, coasts, cobalt, copper, emissions, heavy metals, lead, magnesium, manganese, nickel, pH, phosphorus, pig manure, potassium, sand, sodium, soil sampling, soil texture, zinc, Belgium
More than 600 arable soils from Flanders (Northern-Belgium) were analysed for their total acid extractable contents of As, B, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn in order to determine any increase in the natural background values. Samples were taken at random in several municipalities throughout Flanders. Areas with known historical or actual sources of trace element emissions were omitted although in some cases the distance between those sources and the sampling locations was not more than 20 km. The main soil types were, ranging from north to south: sand, loamy sand, light sandy-loam, sandy-loam and loam. In the coastal area, clay soils (sea polders) were sampled. In addition to the analysis of trace elements, the soil texture class, the pH and the carbon content were determined. Macro- or mesonutrients, Ca, K, P, Mg and Na, were determined from a weak acid extract of the soil samples. Correlations between trace elements and macronutrients provide some information about fertilisation practices and heavy metal sources.A limited number of soils showed slightly enhanced levels for As, Be, Cu, Co, Cr Mn, Ni Pb and Zn. In most cases, this could be linked to the regional industrial activities. However, a clear increase for Cu and Zn, above the natural background could be distinguished in areas with low atmospheric heavy metal deposits. In these cases, the excessive use of animal manure in the past may be the reason for this enrichment. However there was no indication that the Cd content of the soil was raised by the use of large amounts of pig slurry and/or by other common agricultural activities.