Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 409–419 | Cite as

Long-term assessment of the environmental fate of heavy metals in agricultural soil after cessation of organic waste treatments

  • Soon-Ik Kwon
  • Yeon-A Jang
  • Gary Owens
  • Min-Kyeong Kim
  • Goo-Bok Jung
  • Seung-Chang Hong
  • Mi-Jin Chae
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
Original paper


The current study examined the anthropogenic accumulation and natural decrease in metal concentrations in agricultural soils following organic waste application. Three common organic wastes, including municipal sewage sludge, alcohol fermentation processing sludge, and pig manure compost (PMC), were applied annually to an agricultural soil under field conditions over 7 years (1994–2000) at a rate of 12.5, 25, and 50 ton ha−1 year−1 and the soil accumulation of three metals of concern (Cu, Pb, and Zn) was monitored. Subsequently, organic waste amendments ceased and the experimental plots were managed using conventional fertilization for another 10 years (2001–2010) and the natural decrease in metal concentrations monitored. Although Cu and Zn concentrations in all experimental plots did not exceed the relevant guideline values (150 mg kg−1 for Cu and 300 mg kg−1 for Zn), significant increases in metal concentrations were observed from cumulative application of organic wastes over 7 years. For instance, PMC treatment resulted in an increase in Cu and Zn from 9.8 and 72 mg kg−1 to 108.2 and 214.3 mg kg−1, respectively. In addition, the natural decrease in Cu and Zn was not significant as soils amended with PMC showed only a 16 and 19 % decline in Cu and Zn concentrations, respectively, even 10 years after amendment ceased. This research suggested that more attention must be paid during production of organic waste-based amendments and at the application stage.


Amendment Compost Contamination Municipal solid waste 



This study was carried out with the support of “Research Program for Agricultural Science & Technology Development (Project No. PJ009408)”, National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea. Also, this study was supported by the fund (NRF-2012R1A1A1041055) from the National Research Foundation of Korea.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soon-Ik Kwon
    • 1
  • Yeon-A Jang
    • 1
  • Gary Owens
    • 2
  • Min-Kyeong Kim
    • 1
  • Goo-Bok Jung
    • 1
  • Seung-Chang Hong
    • 1
  • Mi-Jin Chae
    • 1
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
    • 3
  1. 1.National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDASuwonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Mawson InstituteUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakesAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Agronomy and Medicinal Plant ResourcesGyeongnam National University of Science and TechnologyJinjuRepublic of Korea

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