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A field study on heavy metals phytoattenuation potential of monocropping and intercropping of maize and/or legumes in weakly alkaline soils

Zhu, Saiyong, Ma, Xinwang, Guo, Rui, Ai, Shiwei, Liu, Bailin, Zhang, Wenya, Zhang, Yingmei
International journal of phytoremediation 2016 v.18 no.10 pp. 1014-1021
Glycine max, Medicago sativa, Pisum sativum, Zea mays, aerial parts, alfalfa, alkaline soils, bioaccumulation, biomass, cadmium, continuous cropping, copper, corn, developmental stages, field experimentation, forage, heavy metals, intercropping, lead, peas, phytoremediation, planting, soil ecology, soybeans, temperature, zinc, China
The study focused on the phytoattenuation effects of monocropping and intercropping of maize (Zea mays) and/or legumes on Cu, Zn, Pb, and Cd in weakly alkaline soils. Nine growth stages of monocropping maize were chosen to study the dynamic process of extraction of heavy metals. The total content of heavy metals extracted by the aerial part of monocropped maize increased in a sigmoidal pattern over the effective accumulative temperature. The biggest biomass, highest extraction content, and lowest heavy metals bioaccumulation level occurred at physiological maturity. Among the different planting patterns, including monocropping and intercropping of maize and/or soybean (Glycine max), pea (Pisum sativum), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa), the extraction efficiency of Cu, Zn, Pb, and Cd varied greatly. Only intercropping of maize and soybean yielded relatively higher extraction efficiency for the four metals with no significant difference in the total biomass. Moreover, the heavy metals concentrations in dry biomass from all the planting patterns in the present study were within China's national legal thresholds for fodder use. Therefore, slightly polluted alkaline soils can be safely used through monocropping and intercropping of maize and/or legumes for a range of purposes. In particular, this study indicated that intercropping improves soil ecosystems polluted by heavy metals compared with monocropping.