Aromatic plant production on metal-contaminated soils

An assessment of the feasibility of growing aromatic crops in metal-contaminated areas and the effect of metals on herbage and oil productivity.

Year of Publication2008

Field and container experiments were conducted to assess the feasibility of growing aromatic crops in metal contaminated areas and the effect of metals on herbage and oil productivity. The field experiments were conducted in the vicinities of the Non-Ferrous Metals Combine (Zn–Cu smelter) near Plovdiv, Bulgaria using coriander, sage, dill, basil, hyssop, lemon balm, and chamomile grown at various distances from the smelter. Herbage essential oil yields of basil, chamomile, dill, and sage were reduced when they were grown closer to the smelter. Metal removal from the site with the harvestable plant parts was as high as 180 g ha− 1 for Cd, 660 g ha− 1 for Pb, 180 g ha− 1 for Cu, 350 g ha− 1 for Mn, and 205 g ha− 1 for Zn. Sequential extraction of soil demonstrated that metal fractionation was affected by the distance to the smelter. With decreasing distance to the smelter, the transfer factor (TF) for Cu and Zn decreased but increased for Cd, while the bioavailability factor (BF) for Cd, Pb, Cu, Mn, and Zn decreased. Scanning electron microscopy and X-ray microanalyses of contaminated soil verified that most of the Pb, Cd, Mn, Cu, and Zn were in the form of small (< 1 μm) particles, although there were larger particles (1–5 μm) with high concentrations of individual metals. This study demonstrated that high concentrations of heavy metals in soil or growth medium did not result in metal transfer into the essential oil. Of the tested metals, only Cu at high concentrations may reduce oil content. Our results demonstrated that aromatic crops may not have significant phytoremediation potential, but growth of these crops in metal contaminated agricultural soils is a feasible alternative. Aromatic crops can provide economic return and metal-free final product, the essential oil.


Zheljazkova,V D ; Crakerb, L E ; Xingb, B ; Niels E. ; Nielsenc, N E ; Wilcox, A 0000-0001-8971-4787 (2008) "Aromatic plant production on metal-contaminated soils"Science of the Total Environment 395 (2-3) pp 51-62

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