Geochemical fractions of trace metals in surface and core sections of aggregates in agricultural soils


CATENA, vol.197, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier


Agrochemicals containing trace metals such as pesticides and fertilizer are intensively used in apple production systems in many countries. There is a risk of accumulation of trace metals, particularly in the sensitive root rhizosphere area. In this study, the trace metal concentrations of soils were determined in macroaggregates at the "mm scale" sampled from apple orchards. Soil samples were taken from five different locations at 0-20 cm soil depths in an apple orchard. Pseudo-total trace metal (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) concentrations of soil samples separated from the surface and core sections of the soil aggregate were determined by digestion with Aqua regia. The modified BCR sequential extraction method was used to determine four operationally defined geochemical trace metal fractions in soil samples. The pseudo-total concentrations of Cd and Cu were significantly higher, and Zn was lower at the surface than in the core sections (paired-t test, p < 0.05) of soil aggregates. The concentrations of all trace metals in the acid-soluble fraction and reducible fractions were significantly higher at the surface of soil aggregates than those in the core section. The same was true for the sum of trace metal concentrations in the extracts of the three fractions considered potentially mobilizable, except for Cr. Our results demonstrated that Cd and Cu originated probably from agrochemicals accumulating significantly on aggregate surfaces, where they were in close contact with plant mots. The generally higher extractability of all trace metals on the surface of aggregates can be attributed to the preferential accumulation of newly-added trace metals in comparatively weakly bound chemical forms.