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Bulk density and content, density and stock of carbon, nitrogen and heavy metals in vegetable patches and lawns of allotments gardens in the northwestern Ruhr area, Germany

Burghardt, Wolfgang, Schneider, Thomas
Journal of soils and sediments 2018 v.18 no.2 pp. 407-417
aeration, bulk density, cadmium, carbon dioxide, carbon nitrogen ratio, composts, copper, gardens, groundwater, heavy metals, horticultural soils, lawns and turf, lead, loamy sand soils, meadows, nickel, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrients, organic carbon, pH, pollutants, rooting, sandy loam soils, soil analysis, soil density, soil depth, vegetables, zinc, Germany
PURPOSE: In view that soils are bodies and that processes such as storage and release of water, carbon, nutrients and pollutants, and aeration and rooting happen in these bodies, it is of interest to know the density of elements and compounds in soils. On the basis of soil bulk and element density of organic carbon (OC), N, and heavy metals in soils and of horizon thickness, stocks of these elements for garden soils were calculated. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fourteen gardens in four allotments of the northwestern part of the Ruhr area, Germany were investigated. The research included 14 vegetable patches, 13 lawns, 2 compost heaps, and 1 meadow. Volume samples were taken. The soil analysis included pH, soil bulk density, and OC, N, Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu, and Ni contents. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The soils were from sandy loam to loamy sand. The pH was slightly acid and C/N ratio about 20. Soil bulk density was between 0.8 and 1.4 g cm⁻³ and mean bulk density was 1.1 g cm⁻³. Mean OC content was for compost 7.4 %, vegetable patches 5.2 % (0–30 cm depth), and lawns and meadow 5.8 and 5.2 % (0–5 cm depth). OC density for compost was 76 mg cm⁻³, vegetable patches 56 mg cm⁻³, and lawns 67 mg cm⁻³ (0–5 cm). Mean OC stock in 0–30 cm soil depth in vegetable patches was 16.4 kg m⁻², lawns 15.5 kg m⁻², and meadow 11.1 kg m⁻². N contents were between 0.06 and 0.46 %. For compost, the mean was 0.39 %, vegetable patches 0.27 % (0–30 cm), lawn 0.28 %, and meadow 0.26 % (0–5 cm). Mean stock of N in 0–30 cm depth for vegetable patches was 0.84 kg m⁻², lawn 0.76 kg m⁻², and meadow 0.55 kg m⁻². For heavy metals in compost, vegetable patches, lawn and meadow, Cd contents were in the range of 1.7 to 3.0 mg kg⁻¹, Pb 49 to 152 mg kg⁻¹, and Zn 52 to 1830 mg kg⁻¹. The amounts stored per square meters in 30 cm depth were for Cd 0.6–1.1 g, Pb 15–52 g, Zn 41–440 g, Cu 4–39 g, and Ni 1–8 g. CONCLUSIONS: Allotment gardens have a high capacity to store CO₂ as OC. Roughly, there will be 7–8 million tons of OC stored in the 1.3 million allotment gardens of Germany. The high amount of 8000 kg N ha⁻¹ could damage the groundwater when released by wrong soil management. Cd, Zn, Pb, Cu, and Ni amounts of 7.8, 1000, 300, 135, and 30 kg ha⁻¹, respectively, are a lasting burden.