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Environ Pollut. 2009 Mar;157(3):823-33. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2008.11.011. Epub 2008 Dec 25.

Cu and Zn mobilization in soil columns percolated by different irrigation solutions.

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  • 1Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zurich, Universitaetstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


We investigated the effects of different concentrations of nitrate and ammonium in irrigation water on the mobilization of Zn and Cu in repacked soil columns with a metal-polluted topsoil and unpolluted subsoils over two and a half years. Soil solution samples were collected by suction cups installed at vertical distances of a few centimeters and analyzed for dissolved organic carbon (DOC), Cu, and Zn (total and labile). During high N treatments the pH decreased and the presence of exchangeable cations resulted in Zn mobilization from the surface soil. The nitrogen input stimulated the biological activity, which affected both concentration and characteristics of DOC and consequently Cu speciation. Metal leaching through the boundary between the polluted topsoil and the unpolluted subsoils increased soil-bound and dissolved metals within the uppermost 2cm in the subsoils. Our study shows that agricultural activities involving nitrogen fertilization can have a strong influence on metal leaching and speciation.

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