Heavy metal occurrence and risk assessment in dairy feeds and manures from the typical intensive dairy farms in China

  • Jing Li
  • Yan Xu
  • Lingqing WangEmail author
  • Fadong Li
Research Article


Modern farming practice features extensive overuse of additives in animal feed. Subsequent use of manure as a fertilizer has resulted in significant heavy metal accumulation in agricultural soil, which is particularly apparent in areas of intensive farming. Here, samples of dairy feed, manure, water, and soil were collected from four intensive dairy farms in China and analyzed to assess selected heavy metal concentrations (Cu, Zn, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Cd). Results revealed that all feed samples contained the selected heavy metals, attesting to the wide use of additives during intensive dairy farming. The average Cr and Pb concentrations were 6.1 to 17.1 times greater than their recommended guidelines. Overall, average heavy metal concentrations in manure decreased in the following order: Zn > Cu > Cr > Ni > Pb > Cd. Using data obtained from the sequential extraction procedure, proposed by the Community Bureau of Reference (BCR), metal bioavailability also decreased according to the following order: Pb (69.4%) > Cr (63.7%) > Ni (60.8%) > Cu (53.4%) > Zn (50.0%) > Cd (34.5%). Heavy metal levels in sampled wastewater were also relatively high; however, surface and well water levels were relatively low. Although use of manure in dairy farming has not resulted in serious pollution until now, Zn, Cu, and Cd are all known to pose significant risk to soil quality. Finally, principal component analysis (PCA) results indicated that heavy metal levels in soil originated predominantly from parent soil materials and were then enhanced by anthropogenic sources.


Heavy metal Feed Manure Soil Risk assessment 


Funding information

This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFD0801404) and Youth Innovation Promotion Association, CAS (2017073).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Atafar Z, Mesdaghinia A, Nouri J, Homaee M, Yunesian M, Ahmadimoghaddam M, Mahvi AH (2010) Effect of fertilizer application on soil heavy metal concentration. Environ Monit Assess 160(1–4):83–89Google Scholar
  2. Bao Y, Chen Q, Ma W, Zhou Q (2018) Influence of Fe addition on the accumulation of oxytetracycline in rice seedlings (Oryza sativa L.) growing in hydroponic and soil culture. J Soils Sediments 18(5):1958–1970Google Scholar
  3. Bastami KD, Neyestani MR, Shemirani F, Soltani F, Haghparast S, Akbari A (2015) Heavy metal pollution assessment in relation to sediment properties in the coastal sediments of the southern Caspian Sea. Mar Pollut Bull 92(1–2):237–243Google Scholar
  4. Beesley L, Inneh OS, Norton GJ, Moreno-Jimenez E, Pardo T, Clemente R, Dawson JJ (2014) Assessing the influence of compost and biochar amendments on the mobility and toxicity of metals and arsenic in a naturally contaminated mine soil. Environ Pollut 186:195–202Google Scholar
  5. Brock EH, Ketterings QM, McBride M (2006) Copper and zinc accumulation in poultry and dairy manure-amended fields. Soil Sci 171(5):388–399Google Scholar
  6. Cang L (2004) Heavy metals pollution in poultry and livestock feeds and manures under intensive farming in Jiangsu Province, China. J Environ Sci 16(3):371–374Google Scholar
  7. Cao L, Tian H, Yang J, Shi P, Lou Q, Waxi L, Peng X (2015) Multivariate analyses and evaluation of heavy metals by chemometric BCR sequential extraction method in surface sediments from Lingdingyang Bay, South China. Sustainability 7(5):4938–4951Google Scholar
  8. Chary NS, Kamala CT, Raj DSS (2008) Assessing risk of heavy metals from consuming food grown on sewage irrigated soils and food chain transfer. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 69(3):513–524Google Scholar
  9. Chen H, Teng Y, Lu S, Wang Y, Wang J (2015) Contamination features and health risk of soil heavy metals in China. Sci Total Environ 512:143–153Google Scholar
  10. Chen M, Ding S, Chen X, Sun Q, Fan X, Lin J, Ren M, Yang L, Zhang C (2018) Mechanisms driving phosphorus release during algal blooms based on hourly changes in iron and phosphorus concentrations in sediments. Water Res 133:153–164Google Scholar
  11. Cheraghi M, Lorestani B, Merrikhpour H (2012) Investigation of the effects of phosphate fertilizer application on the heavy metal content in agricultural soils with different cultivation patterns. Biol Trace Elem Res 145(1):87–92Google Scholar
  12. Chu Q, Sha Z, Osaki M, Watanabe T (2017) Contrasting effects of cattle manure applications and root-induced changes on heavy metal dynamics in the rhizosphere of soybean in an acidic haplic fluvisol: a chronological pot experiment. J Agric Food Chem 65(15):3085–3095Google Scholar
  13. Dai LJ, Wang LQ, Li LF, Liang T, Zhang YY, Ma CX, Xing BS (2018) Multivariate geostatistical analysis and source identification of heavy metals in the sediment of Poyang Lake in China. Sci Total Environ 621:1433–1444Google Scholar
  14. Ding S, Han C, Wang Y, Yao L, Wang Y, Xu D, Zhang C (2015) In situ, high-resolution imaging of labile phosphorus in sediments of a large eutrophic lake. Water Res 74:100–109Google Scholar
  15. Ding F, He Z, Liu S, Zhang S, Zhao F, Li Q, Stoffella PJ (2017) Heavy metals in composts of China: historical changes, regional variation, and potential impact on soil quality. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24(3):3194–3209Google Scholar
  16. Ding S, Chen M, Gong M, Fan X, Qin B, Xu H, Zhang C (2018) Internal phosphorus loading from sediments causes seasonal nitrogen limitation for harmful algal blooms. Sci Total Environ 625:872–884Google Scholar
  17. Franco-Uría A, López-Mateo C, Roca E, Fernández-Marcos ML (2009) Source identification of heavy metals in pastureland by multivariate analysis in NW Spain. J Hazard Mater 165(1–3):1008–1015Google Scholar
  18. Gan L, Hu X (2016) The pollutants from livestock and poultry farming in China-geographic distribution and drivers. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23(9):8470–8483Google Scholar
  19. Hou Y, Velthof GL, Lesschen JP, Staritsky IG, Oenema O (2016) Nutrient recovery and emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide, and methane from animal manure in Europe: effects of manure treatment technologies. Environ Sci Technol 51(1):375–383Google Scholar
  20. Hsu JH, Lo SL (2001) Effect of composting on characterization and leaching of copper, manganese, and zinc from swine manure. Environ Pollut 114(1):119–127Google Scholar
  21. Hu Y, Cheng H (2013) Application of stochastic models in identification and apportionment of heavy metal pollution sources in the surface soils of a large-scale region. Environ Sci Technol 47(8):3752–3760Google Scholar
  22. Hu Y, Cheng H, Tao S (2017) Environmental and human health challenges of industrial livestock and poultry farming in China and their mitigation. Environ Int 107:111–130Google Scholar
  23. Jin Z, Ding S, Sun Q, Gao S, Fu Z, Gong M, Lin J, Wang D, Wang Y (2019) High resolution spatiotemporal sampling as a tool for comprehensive assessment of zinc mobility and pollution in sediments of a eutrophic lake. J Hazard Mater 364:182–191Google Scholar
  24. Khan S, Cao Q, Zheng YM, Huang YZ, Zhu YG (2008) Health risks of heavy metals in contaminated soils and food crops irrigated with wastewater in Beijing, China. Environ Pollut 152(3):686–692Google Scholar
  25. Ko HJ, Kim KY, Kim HT, Kim CN, Umeda M (2008) Evaluation of maturity parameters and heavy metal contents in composts made from animal manure. Waste Manag 28(5):813–820Google Scholar
  26. Li YX, Chen TB (2005) Concentrations of additive arsenic in Beijing pig feeds and the residues in pig manure. Resour Conserv Recycl 45(4):356–367Google Scholar
  27. Li Y, McCrory DF, Powell JM, Saam H, Jackson-Smith D (2005) A survey of selected heavy metal concentrations in Wisconsin dairy feeds. J Dairy Sci 88(8):2911–2922Google Scholar
  28. Li Z, Ma Z, van der Kuijp TJ, Yuan Z, Huang L (2014) A review of soil heavy metal pollution from mines in China: pollution and health risk assessment. Sci Total Environ 468:843–853Google Scholar
  29. Lu A, Wang J, Qin X, Wang K, Han P, Zhang S (2012) Multivariate and geostatistical analyses of the spatial distribution and origin of heavy metals in the agricultural soils in Shunyi, Beijing, China. Sci Total Environ 425:66–74Google Scholar
  30. Lu XM, Lu PZ, Chen JJ, Zhang H, Fu J (2015) Effect of passivator on Cu form transformation in pig manure aerobic composting and application in soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22(19):14727–14737Google Scholar
  31. Lv J, Liu Y, Zhang Z, Dai J (2013) Factorial kriging and stepwise regression approach to identify environmental factors influencing spatial multi-scale variability of heavy metals in soils. J Hazard Mater 261:387–397Google Scholar
  32. Mantovi P, Bonazzi G, Maestri E, Marmirol N (2003) Accumulation of copper and zinc from liquid manure in agricultural soils and crop plants. Plant Soil 250(2):249–257Google Scholar
  33. Meng J, Wang L, Zhong L, Liu X, Brookes PC, Xu J, Chen H (2017) Contrasting effects of composting and pyrolysis on bioavailability and speciation of Cu and Zn in pig manure. Chemosphere 180:93–99Google Scholar
  34. Moller HB, Jensen HS, Tobiasen L, Hansen MN (2007) Heavy metal and phosphorus content of fractions from manure treatment and incineration. Environ Technol 28(12):1403–1418Google Scholar
  35. Nicholson FA, Chambers BJ, Williams JR, Unwin RJ (1999) Heavy metal contents of livestock feeds and animal manures in England and Wales. Bioresour Technol 70(1):23–31Google Scholar
  36. Nicholson FA, Smith SR, Alloway BJ, Carlton-Smith C, Chambers BJ (2003) An inventory of heavy metals inputs to agricultural soils in England and Wales. Sci Total Environ 311(1–3):205–219Google Scholar
  37. Nziguheba G, Smolders E (2008) Inputs of trace elements in agricultural soils via phosphate fertilizers in European countries. Sci Total Environ 390(1):53–57Google Scholar
  38. Pang Y, Tang X, Ji P (2015) The agricultural pollution risk estimation of livestock manures on heavy metals in Guanzhong plain. China Environ Sci 35(12):3824–3832Google Scholar
  39. Perin G, Craboledda L, Cirillo M, Dotta L, Zanette ML et al (1985) Heavy metal speciation in the sediments of Northern Adriatic Sea: a new approach for environmental toxicity determination. In: Lekkas TD (ed) Heavy metal in the environment. CEP Consultant, Edinburgh 2, pp 454–456Google Scholar
  40. Qian Y, Song K, Hu T, Ying T (2018) Environmental status of livestock and poultry sectors in China under current transformation stage. Sci Total Environ 622:702–709Google Scholar
  41. Reimann C, de Caritat P (2005) Distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic sources for elements in the environment: regional geochemical surveys versus enrichment factors. Sci Total Environ 337(1–3):91–107Google Scholar
  42. Shahbazi Y, Ahmadi F, Fakhari F (2016) Voltammetric determination of Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu and Se in milk and dairy products collected from Iran: an emphasis on permissible limits and risk assessment of exposure to heavy metals. Food Chem 192:1060–1067Google Scholar
  43. Song X, Liu M, Wu D, Qi L, Ye C, Jiao J, Hu F (2014) Heavy metal and nutrient changes during vermicomposting animal manure spiked with mushroom residues. Waste Manag 34(11):1977–1983Google Scholar
  44. Sun Y, Zhou Q, Xie X, Liu R (2010) Spatial, sources and risk assessment of heavy metal contamination of urban soils in typical regions of Shenyang, China. J Hazard Mater 174(1–3):455–462Google Scholar
  45. Wang L, Liang T (2015) Geochemical fractions of rare earth elements in soil around a mine tailing in Baotou, China. Sci Rep 5:12483Google Scholar
  46. Wang H, Dong Y, Yang Y, Toor GS, Zhang X (2013) Changes in heavy metal contents in animal feeds and manures in an intensive animal production region of China. J Environ Sci 25(12):2435–2442Google Scholar
  47. Wen Z, Liao W, Chen S (2004) Hydrolysis of animal manure lignocellulosics for reducing sugar production. Bioresour Technol 91(1):31–39Google Scholar
  48. Yan D, Ma W, Song X, Bao Y (2017) The effect of iron plaque on uptake and translocation of norfloxacin in rice seedlings grown in paddy soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24(8):7544–7554Google Scholar
  49. Yang X, Li Q, Tang Z, Zhang W, Yu G, Shen Q, Zhao FJ (2017) Heavy metal concentrations and arsenic speciation in animal manure composts in China. Waste Manag 64:333–339Google Scholar
  50. Yantasee W, Lin Y, Hongsirikarn K, Fryxell GE, Addleman R, Timchalk C (2007) Electrochemical sensors for the detection of lead and other toxic heavy metals: the next generation of personal exposure biomonitors. Environ Health Perspect 115(12):1683–1690Google Scholar
  51. Yu GB, Liu Y, Yu S, Wu SC, Leung AOW, Luo XS, Wong MH (2011) Inconsistency and comprehensiveness of risk assessments for heavy metals in urban surface sediments. Chemosphere 85(6):1080–1087Google Scholar
  52. Zhang F, Li Y, Yang M, Li W (2012) Content of heavy metals in animal feeds and manures from farms of different scales in northeast China. Int J Environ Res Public Health 9(8):2658–2668Google Scholar
  53. Zhao Y, Yan Z, Qin J, Xiao Z (2014) Effects of long-term cattle manure application on soil properties and soil heavy metals in corn seed production in Northwest China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21(12):7586–7595Google Scholar
  54. Zhong XL, Zhou SL, Zhu Q, Zhao QG (2011) Fraction distribution and bioavailability of soil heavy metals in the Yangtze River Delta-a case study of Kunshan City in Jiangsu Province, China. J Hazard Mater 198:13–21Google Scholar
  55. Zhou DM, Hao XZ, Wang YJ, Dong YH, Cang L (2005) Copper and Zn uptake by radish and pakchoi as affected by application of livestock and poultry manures. Chemosphere 59(2):167–175Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations