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Land use in agricultural landscapes with chernozems contaminated after Chernobyl accident: Can we be confident in radioecological safety of plant foodstuff?

Komissarova, Olga, Paramonova, Tatiana
International soil and water conservation research 2019 v.7 no.2 pp. 158-166
Bromus, Chernozems, Galega, Helianthus annuus, Sinapis alba subsp. alba, accidents, agricultural land, arable soils, barley, buckwheat, calcareous soils, cesium, corn, deep tillage, foods, inventories, land use, leaves, meadows, nutrients, plowing, pods, potatoes, radiation safety, radionuclides, seeds, soybeans, stems, tubers, water conservation, wetlands, wheat, Russia
Agricultural land use in the area of the post-Chernobyl Plavsk radioactive hotspot (Tula region, Central Russia) has raised a problem of radioecological safety of obtained plant foodstuff. Verification of 137Cs activities and inventories in components of “soil-plant” systems of the territory has been conducted in 2014–2017 in 10 agrosystems and 2 semi-natural meadows. It was revealed that density of 137Cs contamination of arable chernozems and alluvial calcareous soils nowadays varies in a range 140–220 kBq/m2 and exceeds radiation safety standard by ˜ 3.5–6 times. Deep plowing of the arable soils up to 30-cm in 1986–1987 resulted in decreasing of 137Cs inventories in rooting zone by ≈ 70% for crops cultivated with shallow disk plowing (wheat, barley), and by ≈ 35% for crops cultivated with middle plowing (buckwheat, amaranth, white mustard). The investigated plants and their compartments can be grouped on the basis of transfer factor values as follows: maize (stems and leaves) > amaranth > bromegrass > vegetation of dry meadow, galega, sunflower (seeds), vegetation of wet meadow > maize (grain), soybean (pods), barley (grain), buckwheat (grain), potatoes (tubers) > white mustard (seeds), wheat (grain). It is noticeable that generative plant compartments are characterized by less 137Cs activities in comparison with stems and leaves; and that 137Cs root uptake is not coincide with total flux of mineral nutrients in “soil-plant” systems. In sum, 137Cs soil-to-plant transfer in the area of the Plavsk radioactive hotspot is characterized by considerable discrimination, so 137Cs activities in plants are completely in accordance with national standards.