Effects of traditional Chinese medicine residue on plant growth and soil properties: a case study with maize (Zea mays L.)

  • Jifu Ma
  • Yiping ChenEmail author
  • Yan Zhao
  • Dong Chen
  • Hong Wang
Research Article


Traditional Chinese medicine residue (TCMR) is the solid substances remaining after the extraction of pharmaceutical ingredients from medicinal plant materials, which include abundant soil nutrients. However, TCMR is nearly lost as domestic garbage, which not only occupies a large amount of land but also leads to the waste of resource, as well as causing the eco-environment potential pollution. Therefore, we implemented this study to assess whether TCMR could be used as an organic fertilizer in agricultural practices for realizing waste resource utilization, improving soil fertility, and enhancing plant growth. The results showed that (1) application of TCMR could improve soil fertility, particularly in enhancing the soil contents of SOM, TN, NaOH-N, NaHCO3-P, and HNO3-K; (2) the higher application ratios of TCMR (0.8–1.0%) that increased the soil EC values would cause the risk of soil secondary salinization; (3) the lower application ratios of TCMR (0.2–0.6%) has a better positive effect on improved the maize seedlings’ physiological parameters and photosynthetic performance than the higher application ratios; (4) although application of TCMR lead to the heavy metal (Cr, Pb, Cd, As, and Hg) content increased in soil, there was no ecology risk under below 0.8% application ratio, compared with the China soil risk control standards, geo-accumulation index (Igeo), and pollution load index (PLI). Thus, TCMR could potentially be used as an organic fertilizer in agricultural practices. This approach is an effective strategy not only for achieving TCMR disposal but also for realizing waste resource utilization, as well as for improving soil fertility and plant growth.


Plant ecotoxicology Crop growth Maize seedlings Heavy metals Waste solid Soil fertility 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2017YFD0800500).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6322_MOESM1_ESM.docx (204 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 204 kb)


  1. Ahmad M, Usman ARA, Al-Faraj AS, Ahmad M, Sallam A, Al-Wabel MI (2018) Phosphorus-loaded biochar changes soil heavy metals availability and uptake potential of maize (Zea mays L.) plants. Chemosphere 194:327–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angulo E (1996) The Tomlinson Pollution Load Index applied to heavy metal, ‘Mussel-Watch’ data: a useful index to assess coastal pollution. Sci Total Environ 187:19–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 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 160:83–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bremner JM, Tabatabai MA (2008) Use of an ammonia electrode for determination of ammonium in Kjeldahl analysis of soils. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 3:159–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buonasera K, Lambreva M, Rea G, Touloupakis E, Giardi MT (2011) Technological applications of chlorophyll a fluorescence for the assessment of environmental pollutants. Anal Bioanal Chem 401:1139–1151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Calderon FJ, Vigil MF, Benjamin J (2018) Compost input effect on dryland wheat and forage yields and soil quality. Pedosphere 28:451–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen D, Meng ZW, Chen YP (2019) Toxicity assessment of molybdenum slag as a mineral fertilizer: a case study with pakchoi (Brassica chinensis L.). Chemosphere 217:816–824CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. CNEMC (1990) China soil background values. China environmental science press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  9. Courtney RG, Mullen GJ (2008) Soil quality and barley growth as influenced by the land application of two compost types. Bioresour Technol 99:2913–2918CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dai Q (2006) A review of toxicant mechanisms of heavy metals against plants. Subtrop Agr Res 2:49–53Google Scholar
  11. Drake JE, Varhammar A, Kumarathunge D, Medlyn BE, Pfautsch S, Reich PB, Tissue DT, Ghannoum O, Tjoelker MG (2017) A common thermal niche among geographically diverse populations of the widely distributed tree species Eucalyptus tereticornis: no evidence for adaptation to climate-of-origin. Glob Chang Biol 23:5069–5082CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Faller P, Kienzler K, Krieger-Liszkay A (2005) Mechanism of Cd2+ toxicity: Cd2+ inhibits photoactivation of photosystem II by competitive binding to the essential Ca2+ site. Biochim Biophys Acta 1706:158–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farquhar GD, Sharkey TD (1982) Stomatal conductance and photosynthesis. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 33:317–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fontes RLF, Cox FR (1995) Effects of sulfur supply on soybean plants exposed to zinc toxicity. J Plant Nutr 18:1893–1906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gagnon B, Lalande R, Fahmy SH (2001) Organic matter and aggregation in a degraded potato soil as affected by raw and composted pulp residue. Biol Fertil Soils 34:441–447Google Scholar
  16. Garcia-Gomez A, Bernal MP, Roig A (2002) Growth of ornamental plants in two composts prepared from agroindustrial wastes. Bioresour Technol 83:81–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gichangi EM, Mnkeni PNS, Brookes PC (2009) Effects of goat manure and inorganic phosphate addition on soil inorganic and microbial biomass phosphorus fractions under laboratory incubation conditions. Soil Sci Plant Nutr 55:764–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guerrini IA, Croce CGG, Bueno OD, Jacona CPRP, Nogueira TAR, Fernandesa DM, Ganga A, Capra GF (2017) Composted sewage sludge and steel mill slag as potential amendments for urban soils involved in afforestation programs. Urban For Urban Green 22:93–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Guo L, Wu G, Li Y, Li C, Liu W, Meng J, Liu H, Yu X, Jiang G (2016) Effects of cattle manure compost combined with chemical fertilizer on topsoil organic matter, bulk density and earthworm activity in a wheat–maize rotation system in Eastern China. Soil Tillage Res 156:140–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jien SH, Wang CS (2013) Effects of biochar on soil properties and erosion potential in a highly weathered soil. Catena 110:225–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ke X, Gui S, Huang H, Zhang H, Wang C, Guo W (2017) Ecological risk assessment and source identification for heavy metals in surface sediment from the Liaohe River protected area, China. Chemosphere 175:473–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee SH, Kim EY, Park H, Yun J, Kim JG (2011) In situ stabilization of arsenic and metal-contaminated agricultural soil using industrial by-products. Geoderma 161:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lehmann J, da Silva JP, Steiner C, Nehls T, Zech W, Glaser B (2003) Nutrient availability and leaching in an archaeological Anthrosol and a Ferralsol of the Central Amazon basin: fertilizer, manure and charcoal amendments. Plant Soil 249:343–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lin WY, Ng WC, Wong BSE, Teo SL, Sivananthan GD, Baeg GH, Ok YS, Wang CH (2018) Evaluation of sewage sludge incineration ash as a potential land reclamation material. J Hazard Mater 357:63–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu MH, Wang ZY, Chen L, Liu GC, Zheng H (2016) Application of peanut shell and Chinese medicine mixed biochar as soil amendment to lead contaminated soil. J Ocean Univ China 46:101–107Google Scholar
  26. Llorens N, Arola L, Blade C, Mas A (2000) Effects of copper exposure upon nitrogen metabolism in tissue cultured Vitis vinifera. Plant Sci 160:159–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lu R (2000) Soil analytical methods of agronomic chemical. China Agricultural Science and Technology Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  28. Lv B, Xing M, Yang J (2016) Speciation and transformation of heavy metals during vermicomposting of animal manure. Bioresour Technol 209:397–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ma ZC, Zhang MX, Zhou CJ, Li MA, Wang LK, Wang YF, Zhi-Xian MA (2015) Abundant/lack index of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for maize in Western Guanzhong and determination of economic optimum fertilization rate. J Northwest A & F Univ (Nat Sci Ed) 43:145–151Google Scholar
  30. Mu H, Fu S, Liu B, Yu B, Wang A (2018) Influence of soil and water conservation measures on soil fertility in the Beijing mountain area. Environ Monit Assess 190:504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muller G (1969) Index of geoaccumulation in sediments of the Rhine River. Geojournal 2:108–118Google Scholar
  32. Ning DF, Liang YC, Song A, Duan AW, Liu ZD (2016) In situ stabilization of heavy metals in multiple-metal contaminated paddy soil using different steel slag-based silicon fertilizer. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:23638–23647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Olsen S (1982) Phosphorous. In: AL P, RH M , DR K (Editors), Methods of soil analysis Part 2, chemical and microbial properties. Agronomy Society of America, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  34. Pietrini F, Iori V, Beone T, Mirabile D, Zacchini M (2017) Effects of a ladle furnace slag added to soil on morpho-physiological and biochemical parameters of Amaranthus paniculatus L. plants. J Hazard Mater 329:339–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pistocchi C, Ragaglini G, Colla V, Branca TA, Tozzini C, Romaniello L (2017) Exchangeable sodium percentage decrease in saline sodic soil after basic oxygen furnace slag application in a lysimeter trial. J Environ Manag 203:896–906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ren FC, Liu TC, Liu HQ, Hu BY (1993) Influence of zinc on the growth, distribution of elements, and metabolism of one-year old American ginseng plants. J Plant Nutr 16:393–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Seleiman MF, Kheir AMS (2018) Maize productivity, heavy metals uptake and their availability in contaminated clay and sandy alkaline soils as affected by inorganic and organic amendments. Chemosphere 204:514–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Shi RY, Liu ZD, Li Y, Jiang TM, Xu MG, Li JY, Xu RK (2019) Mechanisms for increasing soil resistance to acidification by long-term manure application. Soil Tillage Res 185:77–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Soares MR, Alleoni LRF (2008) Contribution of soil organic carbon to the ion exchange capacity of tropical soils. J Sustain Agric 32:439–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Solaiman ZM, Yang HJ, Archdeacon D, Tippett O, Tibi M, Whiteley AS (2019) Humus-rich compost increases lettuce growth, nutrient uptake, mycorrhizal colonisation, and soil fertility. Pedosphere 29:170–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Su CC, Ma JF, Chen YP (2019) Biochar can improve the soil quality of new creation farmland on the Loess Plateau. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26:2662–2670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Thakur S, Sharma SS (2016) Characterization of seed germination, seedling growth, and associated metabolic responses of Brassica juncea L. cultivars to elevated nickel concentrations. Protoplasma 253:571–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Verma S, Sharma PK (2007) Effect of long-term manuring and fertilizers on carbon pools, soil structure, and sustainability under different cropping systems in wet-temperate zone of northwest Himalayas. Biol Fertil Soils 44:235–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang H, Feng F (2009) Identification of components in Zhi-Zi-Da-Huang decoction by HPLC coupled with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry, photodiode array and fluorescence detectors. J Pharm Biomed Anal 49:1157–1165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wang P, Zhan S, Yu H, Xue X, Hong N (2010) The effects of temperature and catalysts on the pyrolysis of industrial wastes (herb residue). Bioresour Technol 101:3236–3241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wang Y, Xu Y, Li D, Tang B, Man S, Jia Y, Xu H (2018) Vermicompost and biochar as bio-conditioners to immobilize heavy metal and improve soil fertility on cadmium contaminated soil under acid rain stress. Sci Total Environ 621:1057–1065CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Winter K, Schramm MJ (1986) Analysis of stomatal and nonstomatal components in the environmental-control of Co2 exchange in leaves of Welwitschia-Mirabilis. Plant Physiol 82:173–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Xie WJ, Wu LF, Zhang YP, Wu T, Li XP, Ouyang Z (2017) Effects of straw application on coastal saline topsoil salinity and wheat yield trend. Soil Tillage Res 169:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yeomans JC, Bremner JM (1988) A rapid and precise method for routine determination of organic carbon in soil. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 19:1467–1476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yue FX, Ji Wei L, Yan Fang W, Ling L (2018) Effects of soil amendments with stalk-derived biochar and chicken manure on the growth and Cd uptake of maize under Cd stress. J Agro-Environ Sci 37:2118–2126Google Scholar
  51. Zhang XW, Dong YJ, Qiu XK, Hu GQ, Wang YH, Wang QH (2012) Exogenous nitric oxide alleviates iron-deficiency chlorosis in peanut growing on calcareous soil. Plant Soil Environ 58:111–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhang YL, Li CH, Wang YW, Hu YM, Christie P, Zhang JL, Li XL (2016) Maize yield and soil fertility with combined use of compost and inorganic fertilizers on a calcareous soil on the North China Plain. Soil Tillage Res 155:85–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zheng YJ, Chen YP, Maltby L, Jin XL (2016) Highway increases concentrations of toxic metals in giant panda habitat. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:21262–21272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhou Y, Selvam A, Wong JWC (2014) Evaluation of humic substances during co-composting of food waste, sawdust and Chinese medicinal herbal residues. Bioresour Technol 168:229–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhou Y, Selvam A, Wong JW (2016) Effect of Chinese medicinal herbal residues on microbial community succession and anti-pathogenic properties during co-composting with food waste. Bioresour Technol 217:190–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zhou Y, Selvam A, Wong JWC (2018) Chinese medicinal herbal residues as a bulking agent for food waste composting. Bioresour Technol 249:182–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jifu Ma
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yiping Chen
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Yan Zhao
    • 1
  • Dong Chen
    • 1
  • Hong Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  2. 2.University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global ChangeXi’anChina

Personalised recommendations