Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 31, pp 31396–31406 | Cite as

Influence of phosphate amendment and zinc foliar application on heavy metal accumulation in wheat and on soil extractability impacted by a lead smelter near Jiyuan, China

  • Weiqin Xing
  • Enze Cao
  • Kirk G. Scheckel
  • Xiaoming Bai
  • Liping LiEmail author
Research Article


Higher concentrations of Pb and Cd in wheat grains harvested in several lead-smelting-polluted areas in northern China have been reported. This field experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of phosphate amendment and Zn foliar application on the accumulation of Pb and Cd in wheat grains grown in a lead-smelting impacted area in Jiyuan in northern China. The soil (total Pb and Cd are 261 and 2.65 mg kg−1, respectively) was amended with superphosphate at P:Pb ratios (mol:mol) of 1.90 or 2.57 either during wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) planting or a split of 60% of the phosphate applied at planting, with remaining 40% applied at the jointing stage. Zn was sprayed on the canopy of the wheat plants at the jointing stage. The phosphate amendment resulted in lower DTPA (diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid)-extractable Pb (1.39–10.7% lower than the control) and Cd (0.040–7.12%) in the soil. No significant effect of split application of phosphate was found on Pb and Cd availability in soil; however, higher rates of P resulted in lower Pb and Cd availabilities in the soil. Grain Pb (5.41–21.5% lower than the control), Cd (3.62–6.76%), and Zn (4.29–9.02%) concentrations were negatively affected by the phosphate application, with higher rates of phosphate resulting in lower grain heavy metal concentrations. Foliar application had no statistically significant influence on Pb and Cd concentrations in the grain (p > 0.05). Although Pb and Cd concentrations in wheat grains were reduced by the phosphate application, their concentrations were still much higher than the maximum permissible concentrations for wheat in the national standards of China. The results suggest that it is feasible to reduce wheat grain concentrations of Pb and Cd in Pb-smelting-polluted areas in northern China by soil application of superphosphate; however, the split application of the phosphate and the foliar application of Zn compounds do not have substantial impact on reducing accumulation of Pb and Cd in the wheat grains.


Lead smelting Wheat Soil Phosphate Grain Heavy metal Split application 



The authors want to thank Mr. Hongyi Zhang and Huiyang Tian for their help in sample collection. Although EPA contributed to this article, the research presented was not performed by or funded by EPA and was not subject to EPA’s quality system requirements. Consequently, the views, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent EPA’s views or policies.

Funding information

This work was sponsored by The National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFE0106400) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41471253).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemistry and the EnvironmentHenan University of TechnologyZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.U. S. Environmental Protection AgencyNational Risk Management Research LaboratoryCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.College of Grassland ScienceGansu Agricultural UniversityLanzhouChina

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