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Proceedings of the International Academy of

Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Vol. 4, No. 2, 1 June 2014

International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and
Environmental Sciences
ISSN 2220-8860
Volume 4, Number 2, 1 June 2014

Editor-in-Chief
WenJun Zhang
Sun Yat-sen University, China
International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Hong Kong
E-mail: zhwj@mail.sysu.edu.cn, wjzhang@iaees.org

Editorial Board
Taicheng An (Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China)
Jayanath Ananda (La Trobe University, Australia)
Ronaldo Angelini (The Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil)
Nabin Baral (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA)
Andre Bianconi (Sao Paulo State University (Unesp), Brazil)
Iris Bohnet (CSIRO, James Cook University, Australia)
Goutam Chandra (Burdwan University, India)
Daniela Cianelli (University of Naples Parthenope, Italy)
Alessandro Ferrarini (University of Parma, Italy)
Marcello Iriti (Milan State University, Italy)
Vladimir Krivtsov (Heriot-Watt University, UK)
Suyash Kumar (Govt. PG Science College, India)
Frank Lemckert (Industry and Investment NSW, Australia)
Bryan F. J. Manly (Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. and University of Wyoming, USA)
T.N. Manohara (Rain Forest Research Institute, India)
Ioannis M. Meliadis (Forest Research Institute, Greece)
Lev V. Nedorezov (University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia)
George P. Petropoulos (Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics, Greece)
Edoardo Puglisi (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy)
Zeyuan Qiu (New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA)
Mohammad Hossein Sayadi Anari (University of Birjand, Iran)
Mohammed Rafi G. Sayyed (Poona College, India)
R.N. Tiwari (Govt. P.G.Science College, India)

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61

Article

Calcium and potassium dynamics and biopurification in two


populations of the subalpine evergreen shrub Rhododendron
ferrugineum

Charles Marty1,2, Thierry Lamaze1, André Pornon2, Jérome Viers3


1
Centre d’études spatiales de la biosphère (UMR CNES-CNRS-UPS-IRD 5126), 18 Av. Ed. Belin bpi 2801, 31401 Toulouse
cedex, France
2
Laboratoire Évolution et Diversité Biologique (CNRS-UMR 5174), Université Toulouse III, Bât. 4 R3, 118 route de Narbonne,
F-31062 Toulouse cedex 04, France
3
Géosciences Environnement Toulouse, Observatoire Midi Pyrénées CNRS – IRD-Université Paul Sabatier, 14 avenue Edouard
Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
E-mail: charles.marty@gmail.com

Received 7 March 2014; Accepted 10 April 2014; Published online 1 June 2014

Abstract
Calcium (Ca) and potassium (K) are important acidity neutralizers in soils and essential elements for plants.
These two elements are known to undergo a biopurification within the plant (i.e., discrimination against
strontium (Sr) and barium (Ba) for Ca, and rubidium (Rb) for K). However variations in the magnitude of this
process between plant populations have rarely been reported, especially in high altitude, nutrient-depleted
habitats. Concentrations of Ca, Sr, Ba, K and Rb were measured in roots, stems and in the different leaf
cohorts in two populations of the evergreen shrub R. ferrugineum located at a granitic high elevation site.
Calcium and K concentrations in leaves were respectively ~5 and 3 times higher than in roots and stems. Ca
concentration increased while K concentration decreased with leaf age. The ratios Ca/Sr, Ca/Ba and K/Rb
increased from roots to leaves, revealing a significant biopurification especially between stems and leaves.
This phenomenon was higher for Ca than for K, with Ca/Sr and Ca/Ba ratios more than twice and 4 times
higher in leaves than in roots, respectively, while K/Rb ratio in leaves was only 50% higher than in roots.
Ca/Sr ratio decreased whereas K/Rb increased with leaf age. While the first could result from a
“chromatographic effect” of the vascular column, the latter suggests the existence of biopurification
mechanisms during influx/efflux of K from the leaf. Surprisingly, the magnitude of Ca biopurification varied
between populations on a small geographical scale suggesting that Ca/Sr ratio should be used cautiously for
plant Ca source identification.
 
Keywords calcium, strontium; barium; potassium; rubidium; biopurification; ericaceous heathlands;
Rhododendron ferrugineum

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61  51

1 Introduction
Base cations (Ca, Mg and K) play important roles in ecosystems (Prajapati, 2012), particularly by controlling
the acid-base status of soils and the acid neutralizing capacity of surface water (Houle et al., 2006). Among
base cations, K and Ca play an important role in ecosystems because they constitute the main part of the base
cation reservoir and are required in large amounts for plant nutrition. In granitic sites, plagioclase feldspars
weathering is thought to be the main source of Ca released in soil and stream water (Oliva et al., 2004)
although the dissolution of carbonates, even at trace levels in the parental granitic rock, can constitute a large
part of Ca exports due to its high solubility (Drever and Hurcomb, 1986; Jacobson et al., 2002; White et al.,
1999). Most K in soils is found in primary minerals with low weathering rate (e.g., feldspars and micas), which
releases K in the soil solution at a very slow rate, although biotite, a micaceous mineral, can release K in a
relatively high rate. Only dissolved K in soil water is available to plants which represents a very small fraction
(0.1-2%) of total soil K (Marschner, 1995).
In plants, K and Ca are major elements that can constitute up to 10% and 5% of shoot dry ash,
respectively (Marschner, 1995; Véry and Sentenac, 2003). However, whereas Ca cytosolic concentration is
maintained at submicromolar levels (White and Broadley, 2003), optimal cytosolic concentration of K+ is in
the range of 100 mM (Ashley et al. 2006) which makes K+ the most abundant cation in the cytosol (Véry and
Sentenac, 2003). Ca and K are taken up by roots from the soil solution as Ca2+ and K+ ions and delivered to
shoots via the xylem. The delivery of Ca to the xylem occurs via the apoplastic pathway in root tips and/or via
a symplastic way when a Casparian band between endodermal cells is present (White and Broadley, 2003).
Apoplastic pathway is not selective and is driven by transpiration rate or root pressure when transpiration is
low, whereas symplastic pathway controls the rate and the selectivity of transport to the shoots (White, 2001).
Ca is also adsorbed to fixed negative charges in the xylem walls and absorbed by adjacent cells. In this manner,
the xylem cylinder operates as an exchange column so that Ca translocation cannot be explained simply in
terms of mass flow, but rather by a process of exchange with negatively charged molecular groups. Indeed, in
growing plant, Ca is translocated to the shoot apex, which is a low transpiring organ, presumably due to the
formation of new cation exchange sites (Limami and Lamaze, 1991).
Several studies have shown that Sr dynamic is similar to that of Ca in the plant-soil system and hence Sr
stable isotopes have been extensively used to study Ca dynamics in ecosystems (Åberg, 1995; Blum et al.,
2002; Capo et al., 1998; Dambrine et al., 1997; Drouet and Herbauts, 2008; Drouet et al., 2005; Jacobson et al.,
2002; Poszwa et al., 2000; Poszwa et al., 2004). This similarity results from their close ionic radii (1.00 and
1.18 Å for Ca and Sr, respectively), which can give them similar physical and chemical properties. Despite this
similarity, several studies have shown that Ca/Sr ratio is often higher in plant tissues than in soil solution,
revealing a process of discrimination against Sr during root uptake and subsequent ion translocation (Memon
et al., 1983; Veresoglou et al., 1996). This discrimination has been qualified as a Ca “biopurification” process
and has since been observed in several plant species and environments (Drouet and Herbauts, 2008; Poszwa et
al., 2000, and references herein). Barium, another alkaline-earth with a close ionic radius (1.35 Å), is naturally
present in soils at relatively high concentrations (Suwa et al. 2008) and is also discriminated by root uptake
(Drouet and Herbauts, 2008).
Although Rb cannot replace K in its functions in plant metabolism, root uptake was thought to not
distinguish between these two cations because of close ionic radii and similar valences (Marschner, 1995). As
a consequence, 86Rb has often been used as a radiotracer for K in plant root uptake studies. However,
numerous studies have also shown that Rb was a poor tracer for K in higher plant systems because of a more
or less strong discrimination against Rb (Britto and Kronzucker, 2008 and references herein). This

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52 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61 

inconsistency suggests the similarity in K and Rb dynamics in the plant depend on plant species and
experimental conditions.
The large majority of studies dealing with Ca and K dynamics have been conducted either in crops under
controlled or semi-controlled conditions (Britto and Kronzucker, 2008; Broadley et al., 2003, and references
herein) or in temperate forests (Beauregard and Côté, 2008; Blum et al., 2008; Dasch et al., 2006; Drouet and
Herbauts, 2008; Poszwa et al., 2000). Overall, very few is known about Ca and K dynamics and the
similarities of Ca vs. Sr and Ba, and K vs. Rb in high altitude ecosystems in which plant growth and root
uptake are often limited by climatic conditions and nutrient availability. Moreover, these oligotrophic
ecosystems are particularly at risk because atmospheric N deposition may change base cation availability such
as Ca and K for which dynamics need to be investigated. In addition, the dynamics of these elements have
been mostly investigated in short leaf lifespan deciduous species and rarely in broad and long leaf lifespan
evergreen species.
Here, we investigated variations in Ca, Sr, Ba, K and Rb concentrations in roots, stems and different leaf
cohorts of Rhododendron ferrugineum, an evergreen shrub characteristic of European high elevation granitic
habitats. This species dominates most ericaceous heathlands of European mountains and contrary to most
evergreen species of high altitude habitats R. ferrugineum is characterized by broad leaves.
Our first aim was to test covariations of Ca, Sr and Ba concentrations on one hand and of K and Rb
concentrations on the other hand among the different plant organs to verify whether these elements have
similar dynamics in the plant. Our second objective was to characterize the biopurification of Ca and K
between the different plant organs, as well as during leaf aging. Calcium/Strontium ratio in plant tissues have
often been used in association with 87Sr/86Sr ratio to identify plant Ca sources and determine their relative
contributions (Blum et al., 2008; Blum et al., 2002; Drouet and Herbauts, 2008). Given the biopurification
process that occurs at the step of root uptake and within the plant, species-specific correction factors have
nevertheless to be applied (Beauregard and Côté, 2008; Drouet and Herbauts, 2008). However, how the
magnitude of the biopurification process varies at the infra-specific level and through time has to our
knowledge rarely been reported. Hence, the third objective was to investigate whether the concentrations,
dynamics and biopurification of the studied base cations in the plant varied between populations on a small
geographical scale.

2 Material and Methods


2.1 Study site
The study was conducted in the central French Pyrenees in the vale of Estaragne (42° 48’ N; 0° 9’ E), which is
located in the Néouvielle massif. The Néouvielle pluton is an elliptical body with an area of 98 km2 showing
concentric petrogenic zonation (Alibert et al., 1988). The core of the massif is a biotite rich monzogranite
(53% of the pluton). It is surrounded by a hornblende-rich graniodorite (47% of the pluton). The main
components of the rock are quartz (30%), zoned plagioclases (35%) and K-feldspars (25%) (Oliva et al. 2004).
Two types of soil develop over the granitic unit: ranker type soils under grassland and podzolic type soils
mainly located on slopes and colonized by coniferous and ericaceous.
The valley is located at the border of the Néouvielle pluton oriented North-East / South-West (opening to
the north) and stretches over 3 km between 1850 and 2500 m a.s.l. The vegetation is composed of a mosaic of
meadows, shrubs and trees (Pinus uncinata Ram.) with long heathland/meadow ecotones. Heathlands are
mainly composed of Rhododendron ferrugineum L. and Vaccinium myrtillus L. (Ericaceae). Nardus stricta L.
and Festuca eskia Ram. are the main dominating species (Poaceae) of the meadows. The subalpine climate
prevailing in the site is relatively mild due to Ibero-Mediterranean influences. Most atmospheric inputs

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61  53

originate from the Atlantic Ocean but the Pyrenees are sometimes affected by dust-bearing precipitation events
(“red rain” or “red snow”) originating from Africa or Spain (Oliva et al., 2004). Snow cover usually persists
from late October till early June. The average annual precipitation amounts to 1500 mm. Soils are acidic (pH =
4.7 ± 0.1, SD; total N: 0.5% ± 0.044, SD; bulk density: 0.65 ± 0.099, SD).
2.2 Studied species
The study was conducted into two R. ferrugineum populations (hereafter sites A and B) about 500 m apart on
the North-western facing slope (slope of 34.0 ± 3.7 % and 29.8 ± 3.0 % for sites A and B respectively) of the
mid-section of the valley (2100 and 2160 m a.s.l for sites A and B respectively). These two populations have
been intensively studied and have shown differences in leaf turnover rate, internal N cycling and gas exchange
rates (Marty et al., 2010; Marty et al., 2009; Pornon and Lamaze, 2007). For both sites, soil field capacities and
organic matter contents are similar (0.82 ± 0.08 g g-1 DW and 11.75 ± 1.35 % for site A, and 0.81 ± 0.15 g g-1
DW and 12.10 ± 4.07 % for site B, respectively).
The species studied, Rhododendron ferrugineum, is an evergreen shrub, with well-branched trailing stems
that reaches a height of 70-80 cm. It is widely distributed in the Alps and the Pyrenees between 1600 and 2200
m a.s.l. (Ozenda, 1985) where it can dominate plant communities especially in areas where grazing pressure
has subsided.
2.3 Sampling design
At each site, plant analyses were conducted on five compartments: roots (R), stems (S) and current, 1 yr-old
and 2 yr-old leaves (respectively L0, L1 and L2). Every compartment was collected three times in the
vegetation period on mature shrubs: mid-June, mid-August and end-October. These periods match with the
beginning of the vegetation period, the end of shoot growth and the end of the vegetation period respectively.
At each vegetation period, five sub-areas (50 m2 each) were delimited in each population. Inside each sub-area,
plant compartment samples were collected on four shrubs and pooled together so that we obtained five
replicates of each compartment from twenty individuals three times during the whole vegetation period.
Samples were immediately refrigerated before they were meticulously rinsed with ultrapure water (Milli-Q
integral system) in the laboratory. Then, they were oven-dried for 72 h at 60°C and ground in fine powder
(diameter < 10 µm) in an agate mortar.
For each plant sample, a series of oxidizing acid attacks (bi-distilled HNO3, HF and HCl) was conducted
on 100 mg powder in Teflon reactors (Savillex®). The dry residual was then weighted and diluted in bi-
distilled nitric acid (2%) for multi-elementary analyses. Details about the whole procedure are reported in
(Viers et al., 2007).
2.4 Multi-elementary analysis
Concentrations of Ca and K in plant samples (mg g-1) were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma optical
emission spectrometry (ICP-OES; IRIS Intrepid II XDL). Concentrations of Sr, Rb and Ba were analyzed by
inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS; 7500 CE, Agilent Technologies).
2.5 Biopurification of K and Ca in the plant
We assessed the discrimination of both Ba and Sr against Ca and Rb against K across the different
compartments of the plant. In this respect, we calculated discrimination indexes between both roots and stems,
and stems and leaves. For instance, Sr discrimination against Ca was calculated as follows:
(Ca /Sr) S
DFSCaR/ Sr 
(Ca /Sr) R
(Ca /Sr) L
DFLCaS/ Sr 
(Ca /Sr) S

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54 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61 

where S, R and L are stem, root and leaf compartments respectively. For instance, DFS-R is the discrimination
index from roots to stems. The higher DFCa/Sr values the higher the Sr discrimination between two given
compartments. This index was calculated for couples Ca/Sr, Ca/Ba and K/Rb.
2.6 Statistics
Normality of values and homoscedasticity were assessed with Shapiro-Wilk and Fligner-Killeen test
respectively. Differences in both element concentrations and element ratios between plant compartments, and
differences in discrimination factors (DF) were tested with one-way ANOVAs followed by Tukey post hoc
analyses. The relationships between element concentrations in leaves, stems and roots were assessed with a
Pearson’s product moment correlation analysis. Linear and non-linear regressions were also performed to
assess the variations in elemental concentrations and ratios with leaf age. An analysis of covariance (Ancova)
was performed to estimate the significance of the “site” effect on the relationship between leaf age and Ca/Sr
and K/Rb. All analyses were performed with R (R version 2.9.1; R Development Core Team, 2009).

3 Results
3.1 Concentrations in plant organs
Concentrations of Ca were similar in roots and stems and strongly lower (at least two times and up to 7 times)
than in all leaf generations at both sites (Table 1). At both sites Ca concentrations in L1 and L2 were similar
and significantly higher than in L0. In contrast, K concentrations in L0 were significantly higher than in L1
and L2 at both sites (Table 1).

Table 1 Concentrations (means (SD), n=62) in Ca and K in the different plant compartments of R. ferrugineum (mg g-1).

Ca K
A B t-test (P) A B t-test (P)
R 2.1 (0.8) a 2.7 (1.0) a 0.11 1.5 (0.2) a 1.6 (0.2) a 0.84
S 2.0 (0.3) a 2.0 (0.5) a 0.55 1.0 (0.2) a 1.0 (0.2) a 0.58
L0 5.7 (1.9) b 4.6 (1.8) b < 0.001 5.8 (2.6) b 7.0 (3.4) b < 0.005
L1 9.7 (1.7) c 7.7 (0.9) c < 0.001 3.8 (0.7) c 4.3 (0.6) c < 0.05
L2 11.0 (1.9) c 8.2 (0.6) c < 0.001 3.2 (0.7) c 4.2 (0.4) c < 0.001
Letters in italics: results of the comparison of compartments within each site (one-way Anova). L0,
L1, L2, R and T: current year, one yr-old, two yr-old leaves, roots and stems, respectively.

Table 2 Correlations (r) between elemental concentrations in leaves, stems and roots of R. ferrugineum.

[Ca] (mg g-1) [Sr] (µg g-1) [Ba] (µg g-1) [K] (mg g-1) [Rb] (µg g-1)

L S R L S R L S R L S R L S R

[Ca] 1 1 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
0.9 0.8 0.9
[Sr] 1 1 1 - - - - - - - - -
*** *** ***
0.8 0.2 -0.5 0.9 0.2 -0.3
[Ba] 1 1 1 - - - - - -
*** ns * *** ns ns
-0.8 0.5 0.2 -0.6 0.4 0.4 -0.6 0.2 -0.1
[K] 1 1 1 - - -
*** ** ns *** * * *** ns ns
-0.7 -0.1 -0.3 -0.6 0.1 -0.1 -0.5 0.6 0.5 0.9 -0.1 0.3
[Rb] 1 1 1
*** ns ns *** ns ns *** *** *** *** ns ns
For leaves (L), stems (S) and roots (R), the numbers of samples (n) are respectively 85, 60 and 60. *** P < 0.005;
**P < 0.01; * P < 0.05; ns P > 0.05.

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61  55

Table 3 Mean Ca/Sr, Ca/Ba and K/Rb ratios in the different plant compartments at sites A and B.

Ca/Sr Ca/Ba K/Rb


A B t-test A B t-test A B t-test
(P) (P) (P)
R 239.5 273.7 ns 40.0 58.3 ns 176.9 180.7 ns
(39.3) a (40.7) a (15.3) a (30.8) a (40.3) a (41.6) a

S 264.1 284.7 ns 41.1 40.3 ns 203.2 213.5 ns


(22.6) a (33.3) a (29.7) a (12.9) a (76.6) a (103.3) a

L0 591.1 774.5 *** 320.8 110.9 * 182.4 203.5 ns


(53.9) b (127.5) b (335.31) b (70.2) b (44.3) a (63.4) a

L1 538.1 682.5 *** 166.7 177.9 ns 268.9 253.5 ns


(67.5) c (95.8) c (100.46) b (72.17) c (78.9) b (77.4) ab

L2 514.5 654.6 *** 227.1 136.3 ns 294.4 298.1 ns


(57.8) c (78.9) c (206.3) b (50.97) bc (94.4) b (66.6) b

For each site, values (mean (SD), n=15) that do not share the same letters are significantly different (P<0.05; one-
way Anova followed by a Tukey HSD test). L0, L1, L2, R and T: current year, one yr-old, two yr-old leaves, roots
and stems, respectively. ns: not significant; * P< 0.05; ** P<0.01; *** P<0.001

Fig. 1 Variations in Ca, K, Sr and Rb concentrations (mean ± SD, n = 5), expressed a on mass basis (mg g-1) with leaf age.
Closed and open circles are sites A and B, respectively. Equations are : Top-left – A : y = 2.1 log(x) + 4.3 (R2=0.87***); B : y =
1.5 log(x) + 3.5 (R2=0.89***); Top-right – A : y = 4.6 log(x) + 6.6 (R2=0.88***); B : y = 2.7 log(x) + 4.4 (R2=0.92***); A :
Bottom-left – A : y = -1.2 log(x) + 6.9 (R2=0.58***); B : y = -1.4 log(x) + 8.2 (R2=0.51***); Bottom-right – A : y = -1.2 log(x) +
6.9 (R2=0.86***); B : y = -1.4 log(x) + 8.2 (R2=0.21 ns). ***: P<0.005.

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56 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61 

Leaf Ca and Sr concentrations sharply increased during the first year, afterwards the increase declined and
concentrations tended to stabilize around 11 mg g-1 and 20 µg g-1 in site A but only around 8 mg g-1 and 10 µg
g-1 in site B (Fig. 2). In contrast, leaf K concentrations decreased drastically during leaf expansion and then
tended to stabilize around 3.5 mg g-1 vs 4.2 mg g-1 at sites A and B, respectively. Consequently L1 and L2
were much more concentrated in Ca than in K. As for K, Rb concentrations at site A decreased strongly during
the first year and then stabilized at ~15 µg g-1. In contrast, Rb concentrations at site B were slightly lower in
L1 (~12 µg g-1) than in older leaves (15-19 µg g-1).
In all leaf cohorts, Ca concentrations were significantly higher and K concentrations significantly lower at
site A than at site B (Table 1), whereas both sites had similar K and Ca concentrations in stems and roots.

Fig. 2 Variations in leaf Ca/Sr, Ca/Ba and K/Rb ratios of R. ferrugineum with leaf age. Values are means ± SE (n = 5). Closed
and open circles are site A and B respectively. Equations are: Top– A: y = -3.4x + 594.2 (R2 = 0.87***); B: y = -5.3x + 777.5
(R2 = 0.49*); Bottom– y = 4.6x + 187.1 (R2 = 0.87***). ***: P<0.005.

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61  57

3.2 Biopurification of Ca and K


There were strong positive correlations between Ca and Sr concentrations in leaves, stems and roots (Table 2).
In contrast, the correlation between K and Rb concentrations was significant only in leaves. The correlations
between Ca and Ba concentrations and Sr and Ba concentrations were also positive and strong in leaves but
not significant in stems and tended to be negative in roots.
Ca/Sr and Ca/Ba ratios were markedly higher in leaves than in roots and stems (Table 3). In contrast, only
leaves older than 1 year (both L1 and L2 at site A and only L2 at site B) had higher K/Rb ratios than roots and
stems. In leaves, Ca/Sr ratio was significantly higher at site B than at site A. The difference was much less
marked in roots and stems. In contrast, there was no difference in K/Rb and Ca/Ba among sites except in L0
where Ca/Ba was almost three times higher at site A than at site B.
Ca/Sr ratios declined whereas K/Rb ratios increased linearly with leaf age at both sites (Fig. 2). Ca/Sr
ratios were higher and declined faster with leaf age at site B. In contrast, we did not find any “site” effect on
the intercept and the slope of the K/Rb linear regression (Ancova, P > 0.05), so the data were pooled to fit the
linear regression (Fig 2). In contrast, Ca/Ba was not correlated to leaf age (R2 = 0.04, P = 0.6). At site A, the
variation was very large within the same year with strikingly higher values in July (months 2, 14 and 26 on Fig
2).
Discrimination factors (DF) for Sr and Ba were low between roots and stems (only 1.09 for Sr; Table 4).
There was even a positive discrimination of Ba since DF was < 1 (0.88), reflecting a decrease in the Ca/Ba
ratio from roots to stems (Table 3). Discrimination factors between stems and leaves were at least twice (Sr)
and four times (Ba) higher than between roots and stems (Table 4). Except between roots and stems, the
discrimination against Ba (DFCa/Ba) was higher than that against Sr and Rb. The discrimination against Sr
(DFCa/Sr) and Rb (DFK/Rb) was similar between roots and stems and between stems and L2. In contrast, the
discrimination against Sr was higher than that against Rb between stems and L0 and between stems and L1.

Table 4 Discrimination factors (DF) between the different plant compartments.

DFCa/Sr DFCa/Ba DFK/Rb


S-R 1.09 (0.17) a 0.88 (0.37) b 1.14 (0.30) a

L0-S 2.48 (0.38) a 4.88 (3.63) b 1.08 (0.49) c

L1-S 2.22 (0.31) a 4.68 (1.98) b 1.44 (0.61) c

L2-S 2.15 (0.25) a 3.80 (1.28) b 1.66 (0.56) a

For each compartment, DF values (mean (SD), n = 30) that do not share the same letter are significantly
different (P < 0.05; one-way Anova followed by a Tukey HSD test).

4 Discussion
4.1 Elemental concentrations in plant tissues
There was no significant difference in Ca concentrations in both roots and stems between the two sites. In
contrast, leaf Ca concentrations were significantly higher at site A. Due to the high toxicity of Ca in the cytosol
and the phloem sap, this element is considered the most immobile cation in the plant and can only be weakly
redistributed in the plant via the phloem (Marschner, 1995). As a consequence, developing tissues largely rely
on Ca transport via the xylem, which is ultimately controlled by transpiration rate (White and Broadley, 2003).
Consequently, water availability in the soil can impact Ca concentrations in leaves. It has actually been shown
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58 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 50-61 

that drought periods could decrease foliar Ca concentrations in several Mediterranean species (Sardans et al.,
2008). Differences in leaf Ca concentrations between the two sites might therefore result from differences in
transpiration rates, which could basically originate from differences in soil water reserves. This hypothesis is
strengthened i) by the fact that soil is thicker and less rocky at site A, which might result in higher water
availability at this site; ii) by leaf transpiration data obtained from a 2-year campaign of leaf gas-exchange
measurement at both sites (Marty et al., 2010; Marty, 2009). Leaf transpiration (E; µmol H2O m-2 s-1) in L0 has
been shown to be on average 25% higher and water use efficiency (WUE; µmol H2O µmol-1 CO2) 19-32%
lower across all leaf generation at site A (Marty, 2009; data not shown).
Ca and Sr concentrations were strongly positively correlated in leaves and both elements exhibited the
same change pattern with leaf age: concentrations increased strongly during the first year and then tended to
plateau. The accumulation of Ca and Sr with leaf age results from their lack of mobility in the phloem sap,
which prevents from remobilization to growing or storage organs (Marschner, 1995). Their decreasing rates of
accumulation with leaf age in both populations might result from a reduction in transpiration rate with leaf
aging as suggested by available leaf gas-exchange data, which have shown that transpiration rate was 12-39%
lower in L2 than in L0. It has also been suggested that Ca decreasing rate of accumulation could result from an
increasing exudation/leaching rate from leaves as leaf aged (Wyttenbach et al., 1995).
In contrast to Ca, leaf K and Rb concentrations at site A sharply decreased after bud break and reached
their final value from the second month of their life. This decline in leaf concentration occurred during the
short growth period of R. ferrugineum’s leaves (Marty et al., 2009) and must correspond to the dilution of K in
leaf biomass as they expanded. Actually, K leaf content (the product of K concentration by leaf mass) did not
vary during this short period (data not shown) indicating that the amount of K in expanded leaves was already
present in the buds before shoot growth.
Negative correlations between Ca (and also Sr and Ba) and K (and Rb too) concentrations (Table 2) in
leaves might mainly result from their opposite dynamics in leaves (accumulation vs. resorption/dilution).
However, significantly negative correlations were also found independently of their contrasting dynamics (at
each measurement date), which might reflect an antagonism between the two elements in leaf cells. Calcium is
mainly located in cell walls, whereas K is concentrated in cytoplasm. High Ca concentrations in older leaves
could result from high cell wall content, which could reduce the proportion of cytoplasm in the total cell mass
and consequently reduce K concentration in total leaf tissues, explaining the negative relationship between Ca
and K concentrations in leaves.
4.2 Biopurification of Ca and K
Ca/Sr ratios in R. ferrugineum’s organs (Table 3) were in the range of those measured in beech (Drouet and
Herbauts 2008; Drouet et al. 2005), maple and birch (Blum et al. 2002) but lower than in oak (Drouet and
Herbauts 2008), fir and spruce (Blum et al., 2002). At both sites, this ratio was significantly lower in roots and
stems than in leaves, indicating that from roots to leaves via the stems, Ca was “biopurified”. Numerous
studies have shown that biopurification occurs during root uptake and from roots to leaves (Drouet and
Herbauts, 2008; Poszwa et al., 2000). Unfortunately we can’t assess biopurification at the root uptake step with
the present data. However, we show that within the plant most Ca and K biopurification occurred between
stems and leaves, rather than between roots and stems. It has been known for long that, at least for forbs, stems
contain an efficient trapping mechanism for Sr that removes the ion from the ascending flow (Emmert, 1965).
The biopurification between stems and leaves could therefore result from a preferential capture of Sr and Ba
(in the case of Ca biopurification) and Rb (in the case of K biopurification) by this mechanism, leading to
higher Ca/Sr and Ca/Ba ratios or K/Rb in the ascending sap and consecutively in leaves. This
“chromatographic effect” of the vascular column would lead to increasing Ca/Sr ratio with height in vascular

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tissue (Beauregard and Côté, 2008). In R. ferrugineum, newly produced shoots (L0) are located at the top of
the shoot produced the previous year (L1). Therefore, this mechanism could explain the decline in Ca/Sr with
leaf age, but not the increase in K/Rb, which suggests the existence of specific mechanisms for K. As
previously mentioned, K is highly mobile in the phloem and is as a consequence constantly exported from the
leaf via the phloem. A discrimination effect against K at the step of phloem loading could explain the increase
in K/Rb ratio with leaf leaf age, but this hypothesis should be tested.
4.3 Variations in Ca and K biopurification
K/Rb ratio in all plant compartments and Ca/Sr ratios in roots and stems were similar at both sites, but Ca/Sr
ratio in leaves was significantly higher at site B (~30% higher). The reasons for such a discrepancy are
unknown but it is unlikely that this difference resulted from different Ca sources because the two populations
are only a hundreds of meters from each other and shrubs from both populations had similar Ca/Sr ratios in
roots and stems. In addition, Sr stable isotopes ratios (87Sr/86Sr) measured in all plant compartments (see
supplementary material) were found to be similar at both sites (Table S1), which strengthens the hypothesis of
similar Ca sources at both sites. The difference between the two populations might rather result from a
difference in Ca biopurification during ion translocation from roots to leaves. As previously suggested, this
could result from a difference in the length of the vascular column (Beauregard and Côté, 2008), which may
basically be the result of a difference in shrub age or growth between the two sites. This could also result from
the lower rate of transpiration at site B as compared to site A leading to lower flow of water in the xylem of
plants of site B therefore enhancing the “chromatographic effect” of the vascular column. Although these
hypotheses remain to be tested, our results clearly indicate that the Ca/Sr ratio in leaves can significantly vary
between populations with probably the same Ca sources on a very small geographical scale, and therefore that
Ca/Sr ratio should be used with caution to assess differences in Ca sources among plant species.
In addition, our data show that biopurification between stems and leaves was higher for Ca than for K
(Table 4), the magnitude of discrimination decreasing in the order Ba, Sr and Rb. The high discrimination
against Ba might reflect its high toxicity in leaves as it is known to impair C assimilation (Suwa et al. 2008).

5 Conclusion
Our data show that in R. ferrugineum, Ca and Sr concentrations were very strongly positively correlated in all
plant compartments, and K and Rb concentrations were strongly correlated in leaves, illustrating the similar
dynamics of these two element couples in the plant. However, our data showed that after root uptake Ca and K
were biopurified during their translocation from roots to leaves, resulting in higher Ca/Sr, Ca/Ba and K/Rb
ratios in leaves. Most biopurification within the plant between stems and leaves rather than between roots and
stems. Moreover, the discriminations against Sr and Rb were shown to respectively decrease and increase with
leaf age. While the chromatographic effect of the vascular column could explain the increase in leaf Ca/Sr ratio
with leaf age, this mechanism was unlikely to explain the increase in leaf K/Rb ratio with leaf age, suggesting
the existence of mechanisms of biopurification at the step of leaf loading and/or the excretion of these
elements from leaves with a discrimination effect. Surprisingly, we found that Ca and K concentrations and
Ca/Sr ratio in leaves varied between two populations growing only a few hundred meters to each other. While
variation in Ca concentrations might result from a difference in water availability, the origin of the difference
in Ca/Sr ratio remains to be investigated. The proximity of the two populations as well as Sr stable isotope
ratios strongly suggest that this difference does not originate from different Ca and Sr sources but rather from
physiological processes and therefore that Ca/Sr ratio should be used cautiously for Ca sources identification
in the field.

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Article

Bioaccumulation of chromium by Zea mays in wastewater-irrigated


soil: An experimental study

Fatemeh Zojaji1, Amir Hessam Hassani1, Mohammad Hossein Sayadi2


1
Department of Environmental Science, faculty of environment and Energy, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad
University, Tehran, Iran
2
Environmental Sciences Department, University of Birjand, Iran
E-mail: fz60es@yahoo.com

Received 5 July 2013; Accepted 15 August 2013; Published online 1 June 2014

Abstract
The use of wastewater to irrigate plants is a common in many countries. This study aims to compare the
bioaccumulation of chromium in Zea mays that irrigated with wastewater and tap water. The study was carried
out in the field of waste water treatment plant in Birjand for 4 successive months from 16 August 2011 to 16
November 2011. 0.5 kg soil and 5 g of the root, stem and leave of Z. mays were collected monthly. Z. mays
samples were digested by cloridric acid and soil samples were digested with nitric acid. Chromium
concentration in the samples was determined by AA-7000 series of atomic absorption spectrophotometer. The
average concentrations of chromium in wastewater and tap water were 12 ppb and 5 ppb respectively. The
concentration of chromium in soils, which is irrigated with wastewater and tap water, were 26.68 ppm and
11.15 ppm respectively. The mean concentration of chromium in roots of Z. mays that is irrigated with
wastewater and tap water were 10.28 ppm and 3.92 ppm respectively. The mean concentration of chromium in
the stem of Z. mays which is irrigated with wastewater and tap water were 4.19 ppm and 1.17 ppm respectively
while the mean concentration of chromium in leaves of Z. mays which is irrigated with wastewater and tap
water were 2.27ppm and 0.44ppm respectively. The Study showed higher accumulation of chromium in soils
and Z. mays plants which irrigated by wastewater. Cr is immobilized mainly in roots. The ratio of transfer
factor of root:leaves is more than ratio of transfer factor of root:stems. It is noticeable that the transfer factor of
Cr is decreasing with increase of Cr concentration. The transfer factor between roots and shoots of Z. mays
irrigated with wastewater was lower than Z. mays irrigated with tap water. Cr was accumulate and immobilized
mainly in roots than the other parts.

Keywords bioaccumulation; wastewater; tap water; Cr; Zea mays.

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1 Introduction
Phytoremediation is the use of plants to eliminate, replace, stabilize and reduce pollutants in soil, sediment and
water (Prabha et al., 2007). The expense of phytoremediation is low and this technology is environmentally
friendly (Pilon-Smits, 2005). The most important factors for successful use of phytoremediation are the site
situations, anticipated land use and the kinds of plants (Thangavel and Subhuram, 2004). Treated wastewater
disposal is a problem in developing countries (Chipo et al., 2011). The increase in anthropogenic activities
such as quick industrialization, urbanization and anthropogenic sources can cause emission of various
pollutants into the environment (Telesca and Lovallo, 2011; Zhang et al., 2011; Prajapati, 2012a, b; Sayadi and
Rezaei, 2014; Ediagbonya et al., 2013). The most heavy metals that have been identified in polluted water
include arsenic, copper, cadmium, lead, chromium, nickel mercury and zinc (Akpor and Muchie, 2010). Main
effects of chromium in plants are decreases of plant growth , damage of the membrane and chlorosis of plants
(Gardea-Torresdey et al., 2005; Jada and Fulekar, 2009). Uses of wastewater for irrigation in agricultural
activities cause the biomagnification and accumulation of heavy metals in food chain (Chipo et al., 2011;
Akpor and Muchie, 2010). In other hand, reuse of wastewater is the conservation of water in arid and semi-arid
conditions (Prabha et al., 2007). According to Dougherty and Hall (1995), the long term use of wastewater in
an agricultural land increase concentration of heavy metals like zinc, cadmium, copper, and nickel, lead,
manganese, iron, mercury and chromium in the soil that was irrigated with wastewater. Zoubi et al. (2008)
indicated that Cr increased in roots of plants as the sludge application. Chen and Cutright (2001) showed
Helianthus annuus (Asteraceae) can also be utilized for the removal of Cd, Cr, and Ni. Baker and Brooks
(1989) showed that the plant species Leptospermum scoparium (Myrtaceae) is an accumulator of Cr when
grown on serpentine soils. This study aims to assess and compare the bioaccumulation of chromium in Z. mays,
which irrigated with wastewater and tap water.

2 Material and Method


The study was carried out in the field of waste water treatment plant where is located in Northwest of Birjand
city. The longitude of Birjand is 32°59′ N and latitude of Birjand is 52°12′E. Average annual rainfall is about
148.8 mm and the average annual temperature is 17.1 . Z. mays were cultured into the 2 areas with 4 square
meters. The samples were irrigated with tap water and wastewater treatment plant for 4 consecutive months
from 16 August 2011 to 16 November 2011. The plants were watered to reach the field capacity. 5g Samples
of the root, stem and leave of Z. mays were collected monthly. Samples of Z. mays were washed with distilled
water and dried, then ashed in a furnace at 600°C for 6 h. Three replicate of dried samples were digested with
5cc cloridric acid and digested samples were diluted to 25 ml (Schmidt, 2003). The pH of soil was determined
by using pH meter CRI (microph 2002 model) in the 1:2.5 soil-water suspend. 0.5 kg soil samples were
collected in the triple at depth 0-30 cm and mixed. The samples were dried at 105°C and sieved through a
2mm sieve. Then 2 g soils samples were digested with 15 ml nitric acid in the microwave. The digested
samples were diluted to 25 ml and were put in the water bath for 12 h (Radojevic, 1999). The digested samples
were analyzed for chromium by AA-7000 series of atomic absorption. The transfer factor is the mobility of a
heavy metal from the root to the shoot (stem and leaves) of the plant was calculated using the following
formula (Kim et al., 2003):

E        
TF= ×100
E    

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3 Results
The texture of soil (proportion of sand, silt and clay) and pH of soil are shown in Table 1. Soil pH is an
important factor for uptaking of metals in the soil by plants (Zoubi et al., 2008).

Table 1 The texture and pH of the soil used.


Soil components Values
Sand(%) 39
Silt(%) 48
Clay(%) 13
pH 7.37
Texture Loam

As shown in Table 2,The concentration of chromium in waste water and tap water were 12 ppb and 5 ppb
respectively, The concentration of chromium in soils which is irrigated with wastewater and tap water were
26.68 ppm and 11.15 ppm respectively . As shown in Table 3, The mean concentration of chromium in roots
of Z. mays which is irrigated with wastewater and tap water were 10.28 ppm and 3.92 ppm respectively, The
mean concentration of chromium in the stem of Zea Mays which is irrigated with wastewater and tap water
were 4.19 ppm and 1.17 ppm respectively. The mean concentration of chromium in leaves of Z. mays which is
irrigated with wastewater and tap water were 2. 27 ppm and 0.44 ppm respectively.

Table 2 Mean Cr concentrations in wastewater, tap water and soil.


Chromium concentrations
Waste water Tap water Soil
(ppb) (ppb) (ppm)
Z. mays irrigated with wastewater 12 26.68
Z. mays irrigated with tap water 5 11.15

Table 3 The Cr concentration in different parts of Z. mays (ppm).


Tap water Waste water
Months Root Stem leaves Root Stem leaves
August 2.7 0.6 0.08 9.8 3.51 1.81
September 3.9 0.9 0.35 10.1 3.84 1.89
October 3.98 1.1 0.51 10.51 4.45 2.59
November 5.1 2.1 0.82 10.71 4.98 2.81
Mean 3.92 1.17 0.44 10.28 4.195 2.275
SD 0.98 0.58 0.31 0.41 0.65 0.5

4 Discussion
The research revealed that concentration of Cr in Z. mays irrigated with wastewater is more than Z. mays
irrigated with tap water (Fig. 1). The concentration of Cr in the roots was highest followed by stem and leaves
in the tap water and wastewater treatment. It means Cr is more accumulate in the root then stem and leaves
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7  65

accumulaate lowest leevel of Cr cooncentration. This confirmm with Chipoo et al. (2011) that concentrations off
heavy metals
m (coppeer, zinc, caddmium, nickkel, chromium m and lead)) on vegetabbles were irrrigated withh
wastewatter for ten years were highher than vegetables were irrrigated with tap water.

Fig. 1 Comparisionn of Cr concenttration in Z. mayys irrigated witth wastewater aand tap water.

As shhown in Fig. 1 the Cr cooncentration in the root is i higher thaan other partss because ch hromium wass
immobiliized mainly in roots thaan shoots. Sttudies perform med by Zouubi et al. (20008) and Shahandeh andd
Hossner (2000) on veegetables expposed this poiint. At low co oncentrationss metals can m move through h root tissue,,
mainly thhrough the appoplast and thhey accumulaate near the en ndoderm. The endoderm bbarriers transllocate metalss
through the
t root to thhe shoots. Thiis may be one of the reaso ons for the much
m greater aaccumulationn of metals inn
roots thaan shoots (V Verma and Dubey,
D 2003)). Other reasson can be thhat the rootss are direct contact withh
contaminnated water and a the waterr is absorbedd through the roots of plannts and then distributed to t other partss
(Soudek et al., 2006; Intan et al., 2006). Loweer accumulattion of Cr in leaves than in roots can be related too
conservaation of photoosynthesis froom toxic levells of trace eleements (Fig. 1)1 (Victor andd Ishola, 20077).
The study
s calculaated the ratio of transfer faactor of root:leaves and rooot:stems whhich is showed root:leavess
transfer factor
f is more than transfefer factor of root:stems in both treatmeents (Fig. 2). As Fig. 2 sho own, transferr
factor rattion is more ini lower conccentration of Cr in the botth treatments and comparee them as in the t tap waterr
with lowwer concentraation of Cr shhow the highest transfer factorf ration as
a well as inn the first moonth (August))
shows hiighest transfeer factor folloowed by nextt month’s vizz September, October and November. It I can be duee
to transpportation of ellements to sppecific tissuess based on thhe role of the element in pplant metaboliism, and it iss
caused higher
h concenntration in a particular
p partt (Soudek et al.,
a 2006). It isi observed thhat transfer factor
fa of Cr iss
decreasinng with incrrease of Cr concentratioon (Ghosh an nd Singh, 2005).
2 Transffer factor shhowed lowerr
translocaation of Cr from
f roots too shoots (Figg 2).This po oint indicate that this plaant was not effective forr
translocaation of Cr too the aerial parts of Z. maays. The samee result has beenb obtainedd in Eichhornnia crassipess
(Victor and
a Ishola, 20007).

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66 Proceedinggs of the Internaational Academ
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Fig. 2 Root:Stem
R and Leaves transferr factor (TF) off Z. mays in tapp water and wasstewater treatments.

5 Conclu usion
Cr was im mmobilized mainly
m in rooots. Comparisson of chrom
mium concenttrations in paarts of Z. mayys is irrigatedd
by wasteewater treatmment plants arre as follows:: roots > stem
ms > leaves. The transfer factor betweeen roots andd
shoots off Z. mays irriigated with wastewater
w waas lower than
n Z. mays irriigated with taap water. Z. mays
m seem too
be a low
w chromium accumulating
a g plant, it is not
n able to cllean the conttaminated soiils even it is species withh
large bioomass and fasst growth.

Acknow wledgment
The authhors thank reeviewers for their criticall reviewing of
o the manuscript. Also thanks the authorities
a off
Science and Researchh Branch Islaamic Azad University
U for their help annd assistancee, and the autthors expresss
gratitudee to South Khhorasan Waterr and Waste Water
W Compaany for providding necessarry facilities.

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 62-67  67

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Article

Heavy metal speciation of soil and Calotropis procera from thermal


power plant area

Santosh Kumar Prajapati, Neelima Meravi


 Department of Botany, School of Life Sciences, Guru Ghasidas, Vishwavidyalaya Bilaspur, 495009 C.G., India
E-mail: sntshprjpt@rediffmail.com

Received 25 March 2013; Accepted 28 April 2013; Published online 1 June 2014

Abstract
Present study was conducted near to a super thermal power plant for the speciation of heavy metals/metalloids
contamination of soil and estimation of concentration factor for plant parts (CFPP) of Calotropis procera. The
heavy metals selected for speciation in soil and plant parts were Pb, Fe, Cr, Cd, Zn, Ni, V, Co, Mo and Cu and
were estimated using AAS-7000(Shimadzu). Reason for selecting the present plant was its abundance in the
area vicinity of the power plant. Presence of these heavy metals/metalloids can be attributed to the coal used
for combustion from which they are volatised and after condensation are associated to the fly ass. The plant
Calotropis procera growing in the area accumulates these metals/metalloids do a significant extent and thus
can be used for the plantation in the fly ash dykes so as to minimise the contamination of soil and ambient air
with these metals/metalloids.

Keywords speciation; thermal power plant; fly ash; soil contamination.

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1 Introduction
The power generation in India mainly comes from thermal power plants and coal is used for the combustion
processes. The fly ash emitted from the power plants are important source of heavy metals/metalloids because
the metals/metalloids are volatized during the process of combustion and after condensation gets incorporated
with the fly ash. Heavy metals in the environment interact with water and sediment/soil samples of geological
origin and subsequently influence various processes occurring in soil and plants (Sayadi and Sayyed, 2011;
Prajapati, 2012; Ediagbonya et al., 2013). Heavy metals are classified among the most dangerous groups of
anthropogenic environmental pollutants due to their toxicity and persistence in the environment. Presence of
heavy metals in the road-side and particulate matter in the ambient air is serious and has adverse human health
effect. Particulate matter has been widely studied in recent years due to its potential health impact and the need
for its control. Links between asthma attacks and coughs to particulates have also been reported (Freer-Smith
et al., 1997). Studies indicate that finer PM has the strongest health effects (Schwartz et al., 1996; Borja-
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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 68-71  69

Aburto et al., 1998). Vehicular traffic, industrial processes, and fossil fuel stations are primary sources of
airborne particulate matter (Beckett et al., 1998), which is responsible for contamination of urban areas
(Janssen et al., 1997; Monaci et al., 2000; Fernandez et al., 2001). In aerosols, magnetite is associated with
other heavy metals, such as zinc, cadmium, and chrome (Georgeaud et al., 1997). There are references that
plants capture trace elements and can be used as biomonitors (Oliva and Valdes, 2003; Oliva and Rautio, 2004;
Marañó, T. and Murillo, 2006). Keane et al. compared the metal content (Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn)
in dandelion leaves with the PM10 levels.
Higher plants function as biomonitors of aerial metal contamination due to their accumulation properties.
Vehicle derived particulates were monitored using magnetic properties of leaf dust and it has been established
that they are particularly dangerous to human health (Prajapati et al., 2006). Prajapati and Tripathi (2007) have
biomonitored the trace metals present in PM10 using leaves of Saraca indica and Lantana camara. Present
study was conducted in Bilaspur district (C.G.) near to a super thermal power plant (NTPC, Sipat) of India
which is facing nuisances of air problems. The Calotropis procera which are growing abundantly in the area
were selected for the estimation of concentration factor for plant parts (CFPP) parts for various heavy
metals/metalloids.

2 Materials and Methods


Soil sample and plant material of Calotropis procera were taken from the vicinity of a super thermal power
plant (NTPC, Sipat) located at 22°07’ N and 82°16’ 43 E with a capacity of 2980 MW. The soil sample and
plant materials were immediately kept in polybags after collection. Dust were removed from the different plant
parts with the help of distilled water and fine brushes and marked for identification. The soil sample and
different plant parts were digested in aqua regia for the estimation of heavy metals/metalloids. The heavy
metals/metalloids concentrations were measured with the help of atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS)
model: AA 7000, SHIMADZU and the standard was prepared using standard metal solution of Inorganic
Ventures.

3 Results
The analysis of soil and plants part for the estimation of heavy metals/metalloids concentration is given in
Table 1. It is clear from the table that out of the ten metals analysed Fe was having maximum concentration
and Cd least concentration in soil. Mo was not detected in the soil sample. The concentration of different
metals/metalloids in different plant parts can also be observed from the Table 1. For different
metals/metalloids different plants have different capacity for accumulation. The concentrations of
metals/metalloids in plant parts are less as compared to the soil except for Cd where the leaf is having higher
concentration than the soil.

Table 1 Heavy metals/metalloids concentration (µg g-1) of soil and different plants parts of Calotropis proccera,
Pb Fe Cr Cd Zn Ni V Mo Co Cu
Soil 2.82 34.26 1.23 0.05 4.65 0.14 3.98 n.d 1.01 2.62
Fruit 0.29 18.64 0.91 0.04 1.05 0.01 n.d n.d n.d n.d
Leaf 0.29 14.38 n.d. 0.06 0.78 n.d. 0.64 n.d 0.01 n.d
Flower 0.3 9.72 0.48 0.04 3.15 0.01 1.5 n.d n.d n.d
n.d.- not detectible (< 0.01 ppm)

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Conccentration faactor for plaant parts (CCFPP) for different


d mettals/metalloidds is shown
n in Fig. 1..
Concentrration factor for
f plant parts (CFPP) are calculated ass follows:

Fig. 1 clearly deppicts that CFPP for Cd iss maximum (1.2) ( and nil for Cu and Mo. The CF FPP for Pb iss
almost saame for everyy plant parts while
w maximmum variation n can be obserrved for V. T
The variationss in CFPP forr
different metals/metallloids may bee due to different roles plaayed by them in plant physsiology and thhe affinity off
the plant for these meetals/metalloidds.

Fig. 1 Concenntration factor for


f plant parts (CFPP)
( for diffeerent metals/meetalloids.

4 Discusssion
Present study
s was unndertaken neaar to a super thermal pow wer plant utiliising high quuality of coal. The fly ashh
emitted from
f the therrmal power plant
p is the main
m cause for
f the presennce of heavyy metals/metaalloids in thee
surrounddings. The eleements Pb, Fee, Cr, Cd, Znn, Ni, V, Co and a Cu are voolatile to a siignificant levvel during thee
process of
o combustioon in the plannt and are asssociated with h the fly ash after condensation. Anoth her source off
these meetals/metalloiids is fly assh dykes loccated in the vicinity of the plants from where the fly ashh
contaminnated with theese metals/metalloids mayy come along g with winds oro during storrms. The plan nt Calotropiss
procera growing in thhe area accum mulates thesee metals/metaalloids do a significant
s exxtent and thuss can be usedd
for the plantation
p in the
t fly ash dyykes so as to minimize th he contaminattion of soil annd ambient aira with thesee
metals/mmetalloids. Diifferent parts of the plantss viz. leaf; flo
ower and fruit accumulatee the metals/m metalloids too
varying ratios
r dependding upon the CFPP. The plant p Calotroopis procera growing
g in thhe area is heaalthy and thuss
can be ussed for plantaation in the suurroundings of
o a thermal power
p plant.

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 68-71  71

Acknowledgments: The authors are thankful to the University Grants Commission, New Delhi for financial
assistance in the form of MRP (F no.- 41-428/2012(SR)) and Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya for necessary
facilities to accomplish the present work.

References
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Prajapati SK, Pandey SK, Tripathi BD. 2006. Monitoring of vehicles derived particulates using magnetic
properties of leaves. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 120(1-3): 169-175
Prajapati SK, Tripathi BD. 2007. Biomonitoring trace-element levels in PM10 released from vehicles using
leaves of Saraca indica and Lantana camara. AMBIO: A Journal of Human Environment, 36(8): 704-705
Prajapati SK. 2012. Biomonitoring and speciation of road dust for heavy metals using Calotropis procera and
Delbergia sissoo. Environmental Skeptics and Critics, 1(4): 61-64
Sayadi MH, Sayyed MRG. 2011. Variations in the heavy metal accumulations within the surface soils from the
Chitgar industrial area of Tehran. Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental
Sciences, 1(1): 36-46

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 72-80

Article

Exploitation survey of sea water in agriculture of coastal deserts in


Libya

Mohamed Nasar
University of Singidunum, Belgrade, Požeška 83a 11000 Beograd, Serbia
E-mail: hamde_1983@yahoo.com

Received 20 January 2014; Accepted 28 February 2014; Published online 1 June 2014

Abstract
This paper examines the possibility of exploitation sea water in the agriculture of coastal deserts in Libya,
some of which salt-tolerant plants (Halophyte), especially that used to feed animals, and convert marshes
coastal useless life to nature reserves attract many kinds of migratory birds and marine lives after the
cultivation of these marshes by type of plants, which grow in saltwater. In other words this paper will present a
study of how to use the seawater as a renewable resource for agriculture in Libya and how this will contribute
in sustainable development in this sprawling country. The advantage of this resource can be taken to fill up the
gap of natural grassland and the growing demand for animal feed which has caused rising prices of livestock
and meats, not to mention the tribal conflicts that occur because of the dispute over grasslands. The most
significant reasons that force us to exploit the seawater are: (1) Lack of inventory of underground water in the
coastal areas and overlapping with seawater in several areas. In contrast, Libya has the longest coastline on the
Mediterranean with a length of more than 1,900 kilometers; (2) Fluctuation rate of the amount of rainfall,
which has affected negatively on the natural grassland; (3) More than 90% of the country's population in the
coastal areas, that causing a large drain of groundwater which already meager in this region, for this reason the
government has worked to establish Artificial River project, which delivers water from the south to the
northern areas to reduce this problem, and (4) Depletion and degradation of natural grassland is largely due to
overgrazing. 

Keywords seawater; halophyte; mangrove cultivation; sustainable development; animal fodder; greening the
deserts.

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ISSN 2220­8860  
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1 Introduction
Earth may be an ocean planet, but most terrestrial creatures including humans depend for food on plants
irrigated by freshwater from rainfall, rivers, lakes, springs and streams. None of the top five plants eaten by
people wheat, corn, rice, potatoes and soybeans can tolerate salt: expose them to seawater, and they droop,
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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 72-80  73

shrivel and die within days. One of the most urgent global problems is finding enough water and land to
support the world’s food needs. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that an
additional 200 million hectares (494.2 million acres) of new cropland (an area the size of Arizona, New
Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana combined) will be needed over the next 30 years just
to feed the burgeoning populations of the tropics and subtropics. Yet only 93 million hectares are available in
these nations for farms to expand and much of that land is forested and should be preserved. Clearly, we need
alternative sources of water and land on which to grow crops (Glenn et al., 1998).
The feasibility of seawater agriculture was tested and it has found that it works well in the sandy soils of
desert environments. Seawater agriculture is defined as growing salt-tolerant crops on land using water
pumped from the ocean for irrigation. There is no shortage of seawater: 97 percent of the water on earth is in
the oceans. Desert land is also plentiful: 43 percent of the earth’s total land surface is arid or semiarid.
Seawater agriculture is an old idea that was first taken seriously after World War II. In 1949 ecologist
Hugo Boyko and horticulturalist Elisabeth Boyko went to the Red Sea town of Eilat during the formation of
the state of Israel to create landscaping that would attract settlers. Lacking freshwater, the Boykos used a
brackish well and seawater pumped directly from the ocean and showed that many plants would grow beyond
their normal salinity limits in sandy soil (Glenn et al., 1998).
Seawater agriculture must fulfill two requirements to be cost-effective. First, it must produce useful crops
at yields high enough to justify the expense of pumping irrigation water from the sea. Second, researchers must
develop agronomic techniques for growing seawater irrigated crops in a sustainable manner — one that does
not damage the environment (Glenn et al., 1998).
Saline water is already used by many irrigators around the world to produce food due to limited fresh
water supplies, Such as some countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran, Also
in the United States and Australia.
We chose Libya for the study area of application of this project, because it is in my opinion one of the
most countries need it. Libya is from the countries that have the longest coast and a large part from this coast is
desert and lack of groundwater reserves in the coastal region. The country is suffering from the severe shortage
of pasture because of dry and semi-dry regions with instability of rainfall.
We will focus in our study on halophyte that use as animal feed, which led to rising prices of livestock
and meat significantly.

2 Halophyte
A halophyte is a plant that grows in waters of high salinity, coming into contact with saline water through its
roots or by salt spray, such as in saline semi-deserts, mangrove swamps, marshes and sloughs, and seashores.
An example of a halophyte is the salt marsh grass Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass). Relatively few
plant species are halophytes - perhaps only 2% of all plant species. The large majority of plant species are
glycophytes, plants which are not salt-tolerant, and are damaged fairly easily by high salinity (Glenn et al.,
1999).
Recently, some research has shown the possibility of using wild plants tolerant to salinity or the so-called
Halophytes (Plants grow in saline soils naturally) with a view to use crops feed the animals, or the production
of oils, aromatic and medical supplies or even food for humans directly . We find, for example, the seeds of the
plant Distichlis palmeri (Planer's grass) was eaten by primitive peoples Cocopa like the people who lived
around the mouth of the River Colorado in United States of America. The researchers confirmed that there are
between 2000 - 3000 type of halophytes in the form of herbs and shrubs such as Mangrove, which grows on
the coasts of the sea (Abdel-Sabour, 2003).

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There are some benefits from experiences of some countries in the exploitation of halophyte plants, about
15 years ago University of Arizona began field trials for the cultivation of halophyte in many regions of the
world desert Such as Mexico, Gulf of California, United Arab Emirates, the Gulf of Oman, Egypt and in
different areas in Arabian Gulf.
We can take advantage of these past experiences to find out three types of halophyte plants proved
economic feasibility that can be planted in the Libyan coast:
Salicornia is a genus of succulent, halophyte (salt tolerant) plants that grow in salt marshes, on beaches,
and among mangroves. Salicornia species are native to North America, Europe, South Africa, and South Asia.
Common names for the genus include glasswort, pickleweed, and marsh samphire; these common names are
also used for some species not in Salicornia (ITIS report, 2010).
Salicornia bigelovii can be grown using saltwater and its seeds contain high levels of unsaturated oil
(30%, mostly linoleic acid) and protein (35%), it can be used to produce animal feedstuff and as a biofuel
feedstock on coastal land where conventional crops cannot be grown. Adding nitrogen-based fertilizer to the
seawater appears to increase the rate of growth and the eventual height of the plant (Glenn et al., 1998; Clark,
1994; Alsaeedi, 2008).
Atriplex is a plant genus of 250-300 species, known by the common names of saltbush and orache (or
orach). It belongs to the subfamily Chenopodioideae of the family Amaranthaceae (which include the
Chenopodiaceae of the Cronquist system). The genus is quite variable and widely distributed. It includes many
desert and seashore plants and halophytes, as well as plants of moist environments. The generic name
originated in Latin and was applied by Pliny the Elder to the edible oraches. The name saltbush derives from
the fact that the plants retain salt in their leaves, which makes them of great use in areas affected by soil
salination. Atriplex used as food for some people since ancient times, and livestock feed Salt bushes are also
used as an ornamental plant in landscaping and can be used to prevent soil erosion in coastal areas
(Quattrocchi, 2000).
Mangrove (Mangal) are various types of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal
sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes 25 N and 25 S. The remaining
mangrove forest areas of the world in 2000 was 53,190 square miles (137,760 km²) spanning 118 countries and
territories (Giri et al., 2011).
Mangrove swamps are found in tropical and subtropical tidal areas. Areas where mangal occurs include
estuaries and marine shorelines (Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, 2012). The intertidal existence to
which these trees are adapted represents the major limitation to the number of species able to thrive in their
habitat. High tide brings in salt water, and when the tide recedes, solar evaporation of the seawater in the soil
leads to further increases in salinity. The return of tide can flush out these soils, bringing them back to salinity
levels comparable to that of seawater. At low tide, organisms are also exposed to increases in temperature and
desiccation, and are then cooled and flooded by the tide. Thus, for a plant to survive in this environment, it
must tolerate broad ranges of salinity, temperature, and moisture, as well as a number of other key
environmental factors-thus only a select few species make up the mangrove tree community .Red mangroves
are the most common choice for cultivation, used particularly in marine aquariums in a sump to reduce nitrates
and other nutrients in the water. Mangroves also appear in home aquariums, and as ornamental plants, such as
in Japan. As of 2007, after six years of planting, 700,000 mangroves are growing; providing stock feed for
sheep and habitat for oysters, crabs, other bivalves, and fish (Warne and Tim, 2007).

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 72-80  75

3 Irrigation Methods
We can use the techniques of irrigation conventional to irrigation areas to be cultivated by Seawater, these
techniques include:
3.1 Surface irrigation
Surface irrigation is defined as the group of application techniques where water is applied and distributed over
the soil surface by gravity. It is by far the most common form of irrigation throughout the world and has been
practiced in many areas virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Surface irrigation is often referred to as
flood irrigation.
Surface irrigation can be practiced effectively using the right management under the right conditions; it is
often associated with a number of issues undermining productivity and environmental sustainability (ILRI,
1989).
Irrigation pipeline was set to bring sea water (by pumps) into the field and the flow of water in the canals
and streams already worked in the field. It is advisable to have water pipes made of plastic because metal pipes
prone to rust dramatically under these conditions.
3.2 Center pivot irrigation
Center-pivot irrigation (sometimes called central pivot irrigation), also called circle irrigation, is a method of
crop irrigation in which equipment rotates around a pivot and crops are watered with sprinklers (Mader, 2010).
A circular area centered on the pivot is irrigated, often creating a circular pattern in crops when viewed from
above (sometimes referred to as crop circles) (Gray, 2012). Center pivot irrigation typically uses less water
compared to many surface irrigation and furrow irrigation techniques (Missouri research program, 2008).
This method has achieved success in the Agriculture the plant Salicornia, It was tested at a farm in Jubail
Saudi Arabia, has been tested on a wider range - about 300 hectares in a farm dedicated to the Irrigation.
(Seawater in a RS-Zour in Saudi Arabia). Use pivot irrigation with sea water in the first 100 day (even
configuration phase flowers) and then uses tubes dotting placed on top of all points to connect Water to ground
level next to the growing plants and the amount of water used for irrigation was about 2-3m the length of the
crop growth period of 250 days (see Fig. 1). Machinery and pipes used in this system must be resistant to the
effects of sea water Abdel-Sabour, 2003).

Fig. 1 Center-Pivot irrigation technology in agriculture by seawater.

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4 Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation system is using sea water to irrigate Atriplex plants, to get a high yield, and did not show
accumulating problems of salt and clogging drippers where irrigation is constantly a day, as well as at least
more than the accumulation of salt when buried in the drippers Soil rather than placed on the soil surface
(Abdel-Sabour, 2003).

5 Submerged Method for Marsh Basins


This method is based on the phenomenon of tidal in irrigation of cultivated targeted areas. Many designs of
basins submerged land has been successfully applied on the salt marsh in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
and it has been modified in Jubail (Saudi Arabia) so that the design takes advantage of the movement of the
tides rather than the use of the pumps in the basins immersion areas.
Marshes are usually lands of low leak rate (impermeability), which can be submerged one hectare or more
by one irrigation socket, where the marsh field cannot be divided into separated marshes and the entire area
immersed to depth of 2-5cm at once.
In this method the field is surrounded by a tight protective berm of soil and install main irrigation pipe
inside the berm between the sea and the field to pass seawater through the main pipe when tide occurring and
use this seawater to immerse the irrigation channels, which covering the whole field to reach all plants' root.
Also there is a possibility to install a control gate at the main pipe to control the seawater level inside the field.
In other words when we want to immerse the field we just open the gate when sea level is rising to allow the
seawater to pass through the main pipe and in its turn to the irrigation channels, then close the gate when the
field is full of seawater, finally to drain the seawater from the field just open the gate when the sea level is
falling and the water goes out by itself (see Fig. 2 and 3) (Abdel-Sabour, 2003).

Fig. 2 Submerged method for marsh basins.

Fig. 3 Submerged method for marsh basins.

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This method has successfully proved in cultivating Mangrove and we can use it to cultivating marshes
scattered on the Libyan coast like Misratah and Tawergha, which are the largest marshes of the country, also
marshes of Zuwarah, Ras gdeer and some marshes in Ajdabiya and Benghazi, figure 4, shows some locations
of these marshes.

Fig. 4 Some location of coastal marshes in Libya.

6 Halophyte as Animal Food


Plants Halophyte known as a traditional source of animal feed, although some of the problems that
accompanied such containing high concentrations of salts, low energy and low palatability by animals
compared to traditional fodder. The cultivation Halophyte to be economically feasible as a fodder it should
performance as fodder will be greater or at least equal to the traditional fodder, a lot of studies have proven
that in lack case of fodder, especially in the conditions of the desert areas, certain categories have grown
successfully and can used as an alternative fodder. Take into account if we use Halophyte as fodder, animals
will increase consumption of drinking water. The results by University of Arizona on sheep, showed that
Salicornia (seeds - Stalks) can be used as alternative fodder instead of others which produced from Bermuda
grass or cottonseed fodder. Salicornia have been cultivated to produce oil seeds and straw, also can extract oil
from seeds by milling and use the oil as a source of high-energy to feed animals especially poultry. After
extracting oil, the rest of milling process is free of salt organic materials, which can be used as animal fodder.
The rest materials after extraction of oil contain 33-43% crude protein (where this percentage depends on the
amount of oil after extraction). Salicornia straw contains 30 - 40 % minerals and small amount of protein (4 -
6 %). It was noted that the rate of growth of the animals which feed on Salicornia equal to the same group
which feed on wheat straw or a mixture of wheat straw and trefoil as long as Salicornia fodder is balanced in
protein and energy (Abdel-Sabour, 2003).
Sheep and Camels are the main source of meat in Libya, unlike a lot of countries that depend on the beef.
The Halophyte plants are good food resource for camels, because they are used to eat grass of low nutrition
(desert plants) compared with Halophyte plants, which have higher nutritional value and palatable.

7 Conclusion
Libya is a big country in terms of area and has a coast overlooking the Mediterranean sea with more than 1,900
km, this wide area has not been exploited yet in the cultivation of halophytes, although of the availability of all

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78 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 72-80 

appropriate conditions of coastal marshes, good soil and a favorable climate, This study is one of solutions to
problems which country suffering, such as the low level of groundwater in the northern regions, shrinking
green spaces, urban encroachment on forests, the acute shortage of pasture and animal fodder. We expect to
get several benefits from this study as below:
(1) Salicornia cultivation
 Salicornia is a halophytic (“salt-loving”), oil-bearing plant that can be readily grown on untreated
seawater;
 Other products from Salicornia include protein meal, green tips and biomass (straw) that remains after
harvesting;
 Additionally, the root structures of the plant absorb between 2 to 3 MTs (“metric tons”) of
atmospheric carbon per hectare per year (Whitfield and Chairman, 2010).
(2) Mangrove forests
 Mangrove trees are well-known for their massive root structures and enormous growth rates;
 Within 18 months a mangrove tree can grow up to 6 feet;
 Mangroves are selectively harvested for wood, animal fodder, and absorb up to 8 MTs of atmospheric
carbon per hectare per year in their root structures.
Fig. 5 shows the food web of a mangrove forest. Sunlight provides energy for the trees which become the
food source for herbivores, insects etc. that are then eaten by birds, small predators. These are food for large
predator fish which are consumed by humans and tree itself as a fodder which consumed by animals
(Mangrove Forests, 2014).

Fig. 5 Mangrove food web.

(3) Greening the deserts


 Transform deserts into wetlands and forests. Wetlands are dynamic, complex habitats that increase
biodiversity and biologically clean the water before it returns to the sea (see Fig. 6);
 Creating green spaces in the country such as Libya lacks a lot to green space and is one of the desert
states;

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 When the Eritrean project began, for the use of sea water in agriculture. For example, ecologists have
identified 13 species of birds. Three years later, surveys revealed over 200 species of birds in the same area.
This encourage us to turn the Libyan coastal marshes, which are now desolate and useless life to nature
reserves full of wildlife and sea slugs and many kinds of birds (see Fig. 5) (Whitfield and Chairman, 2010).

Fig. 6 Greening the desert.

(4) Reducing the impact of global warming, because each hectare of agriculture will permanently absorb, on
average, 6.5 MTs of carbon annually (Whitfield and Chairman, 2010).
(5) Economic development, this project will create jobs for the citizens with the possibility of the emergence of
some complementary industries.
(6) Create a new source for the production of animal fodder and try to satisfy the market needs, and reduce the
fodder rising price.
(7) Exploitation of sea water in agriculture is one of the sustainable development projects, which maintains the
integrity of the environment and increase bio-diversity. We expect that the project achieves success in Libya
because the data says that Libya has the right conditions for the success of this project, such as natural factors
represented along the coasts, good soil and appropriate climate. In addition to the financial factor- Libya is one
of the richest countries in Africa.

References
Abdel-Sabour MF, 2003. The use of sea water in agriculture and the production of salt plants. Assiut Journal
of Environmental Studies, 25: 189-204
Alsaeedi AH. 2003. Di pattern of salicornia vegetative growth in relation to fertilization. Scientific Journal of
King Faisal University Basic and Applied Sciences 4(1): 105-118
Clark A. 1994. Samphire: From Sea to Shining Seed: Saudi Aramco. Retrieved 2008-11-17
Giri C, Ochieng E, Tieszen LL, et al. 2011. Status and distribution of mangrove forests of the world using
earth observation satellite data. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20: 154-159
Glenn EP, Brown JJ O'Leary JW. 1998. Irrigating crops with seawater. Scientific American, 279(8): 56-61
Glenn EP, et al. 1999. Salt tolerance and crop potential of halophytes. Critical Review in Plant Sciences, 18(2):
227-255
Gray E. 2012. Texas crop circles from space. NASA. Retrieved: June 6, 2012.

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ILRI. 1989. Effectiveness and Social/Environmental Impacts of Irrigation Projects, a Review. In: Annual
Report 1988. 18-34, International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement (ILRI), Wageningen,
Netherlands
ITIS Report. 2010. Salicornia Integrated Taxonomic Information System. USA
Mader S. 2010. Center pivot irrigation revolutionizes agriculture. The Fence Post Magazine. Retrieved: June 6,
2012
Mangrove Forests. 2014. http://sadiraju.wix.com/suhaas-mangrove?_escaped_fragment_=sample-food-chain
Mildred E, Mathias Botanical Garden. 2012. Mangal (Mangrove) World Vegetation. University of California
at Los Angeles, USA
Missouri Research Program. 2008. Growing rice where it has never grown before. University of Missouri.
Retrieved June 6, 2012.
Quattrocchi U. 2000. CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms,
Synonyms, and Etymology I: A-C. CRC Press, USA
Warne K, Tim L. 2007. Mangroves: Forests of the Tide. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
Whitfield R, Chairman CH. 2010. Greening the deserts of the earth. PolluterWatch.
http://www.polluterwatch.com/category/freetagging/climate-change

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 81-94

Article

Spatial distribution of macronutrients in soils of Markandeya river


basin, Belgaum(d), Karnataka(s), India
 

P. Ravikumar, R. K. Somashekar
Department of Environmental Science, Bangalore University, Bangalore – 560056, India
E-mail: prakruthiravi@gmail.com, nisargaravi@gmail.com

Received 2 April 2014; Accepted 14 April 2014; Published online 1 June 2014

Abstract
Markandeya River basin stretches geographically from 150 56’ to 160 08’ N latitude and 740 37’ to 740 58' E
longitude, positioned in the midst of Belgaum district in the northern part of Karnataka state. Spatial
distributions for twenty different soil quality characteristics were analyzed in the soil samples collected from
30 selected agricultural fields in the study area. Nutrient index reflected the nutrient status of soil and hence it
was calculated by using already determined chemical parameters like organic C, available N, available
phosphorus, and available potash. The present study revealed that there is not much variation in soil fertility
status of soils developed on various landforms in the area. The soils had variable organic matter content and
decomposition rates accounting to 0.06 to 1.5 % of organic carbon. Further, it is evident that all the soil
samples were having low available nitrogen (29.1-189.5 Kg/ha) content, 50% of the samples has low to
medium available P (0.96 to 15.1 Kg/ha) and 90% of the samples showed adequate supply of available potash
(313.3-1500.8 Kg/ha). Sodium Absorption Ratio (SAR) and Exchangeable Sodium Percentage (ESP) indicated
that the soils were excellent for irrigation.

Keywords Markandeya river basin; nutrient index; salt index; soil reaction index; organic carbon.

Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences   
ISSN 2220­8860  
URL: http://www.iaees.org/publications/journals/piaees/online­version.asp 
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E­mail: piaees@iaees.org 
1 Editor­in­Chief: WenJun Zhang 
Introduction
Publisher: International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences 

1 Introduction
Soil analysis has been used as an aid in assessing soil fertility and plant nutrient management for many years.
Soil analysis and its interpretation is an important management tool (a) in assessing the need to apply nutrients
in fertilizers and/or manures to maintain soil fertility of our agricultural soils not only for the present but for
the future also (Zhang and Zhang, 2007) and (b) to make the agricultural land remain capable of sustaining
crop production at an acceptable level (Zhang et al., 2006). Among the aids available to manage soil fertility,
soil sampling and analysis is the first of three equally important steps in managing the nutrients required by
plants. The second is the interpretation of the analytical data leading to the third step, recommendations for
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82 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 81-94 

nutrient additions, as fertilizers or manures, to optimize crop yields while minimizing any adverse
environmental impact from their application. Currently there are well tried and tested recommendations for
nutrient additions to soil. Recently however soil audits, involving additional analyses, based on the ratio of
certain cations in soil (Base Cation Saturation Ratios) and recommendations based on different approaches to
the interpretation of analytical data are being offered to farmers as a better approach to plant nutrient
management. The productive capacity of a soil depends on often complex and sometimes little understood
interactions between the biological, chemical and physical properties of soil. Good farm practice aims to
manage the various factors that make up each of these three properties to optimize the yields of crops in
environmentally friendly ways. Soils invariably contain total quantities of plant nutrients that greatly exceed
the amounts that are immediately available to plants. Soil fertility fluctuates throughout the growing season
each year due to alteration in the quantity and availability of mineral nutrients by the addition of fertilizers,
manure, compost, mulch, and lime or sulfur, in addition to leaching. Hence, soil analysis is an aid in managing
soil nutrients efficiently to maintain soil fertility for those nutrients like phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and
magnesium (Mg) that are retained in soil in plant available forms. If the amount of any of these nutrients in
such forms in soil is too small then yield is jeopardised, but increasing reserves in agricultural soils to very
high levels is a necessary expense.
The present study is mainly focused on testing of soil samples in Markandeya river basin to determine
their current fertility status and to provide information to the farmer regarding nutrient availability in soils. The
baseline data so generated can form the basis for the fertilizer recommendations for maximizing crop yields
and further to maintain the optimum fertility in soil year after year.

2 Materials and Methods


2.1 Study area
The River Markandeya is one of the major tributaries of River Ghataprabha, subsequently joins the River
Krishna in the Northern Karnataka. River Markandeya originates in Bailur in Western Ghats and flows for a
length of 66 km towards east before joining Ghataprabha near Gokak. A dam (16 2 0 N latitude and 74 38
30 E longitude) has been constructed across the river Markandeya to establish reservoir at Shirur village in
Gokak taluk. The study area, Markandeya River basin stretches geographically from 150 56’ to 160 08’ N
latitude and 740 37’ to 740 58' E longitude, positioned in the midst of Belgaum district in the northern part of
Karnataka state. The study area is having a catchment area of 432 Km2 (43,200 ha).The gross command area
is around 328.31 Km2 covering part of Gokak (237.98 Km2), Saundatti (26.13 Km2), Hukkeri (50.6 Km2) and
Belgaum (13.6 Km2) taluks of Belgaum District. The reservoir water is directed via Markandeya Left Bank
Canal (MLBC, 15 Km) and Markandeya Right Bank Canal (MRBC, 71 Km) to irrigate an area of around 8.9
Km2 (890 Ha) and 182.15 Km2 (18,215 ha) respectively. Thus, the net irrigable area is around 191.05 Km2
(19105 ha) covering part of Gokak (95.83 Km2), Saundatti (80.37 Km2), Hukkeri (8.90 Km2) and Belgaum
(5.95 Km2) taluks of Belgaum District. Markandeya Irrigation project is aimed at providing enhanced
irrigation facilities and an improved drinking water system to the villages of four taluks of Belgaum district by
means of canal system.The Location map of the Markandeya river basin along with the sampling points is
shown in Fig. 1.

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 81-94  83

Fig. 1 Location Map of Markandeya river basin.

2.2 Methodology
2.2.1 Soil sample collection and analysis
A total of thirty representative soil samples (numbered RMS1 to RMS30) were collected from plough layer
(15 to 30 cm depth) spread over different villages in the Markandeya river basinduring February 2009 (post-
monsoon) using a hand auger / soil auger. The soil samples collected were air-dried under shade, pounded to
break large clods in a ceramic mortar using wooden mallet, sieved (<2mm) and stored in clean polyethylene
containers at 10°C prior to physico-chemical analyses.
The soil analyses were conducted in accordance with the standard techniques of Jackson (1965a, b, 1968;
1973, 1982) and Black (1965a, b, 1968, 1982). The methods used for determining the various qualitative and
quantitative soil quality indicators in the processed soils are detailed below:
1) pH and electrical conductivity (EC, dS/m) were determined in the supernatant solution of 1:5
soil/water ratio (w/v) using a pH meter and conductivity bridge / meter (Jackson, 1973) respectively.
2) Exchangeable base cations (viz., Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+ and K+) in soil were extracted by leaching the soil
with 1N ammonium acetate at pH 7.0 (w/v), kept for overnight and then filtered using Whatman filter paper
No. 42 and final volume was made up to 100 ml using distilled water. The ammonium acetate leachate (viz.,
filtrate) is used to estimate calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) by EDTA titrimetric method (Jackson,
1973). The potassium (K+) and sodium (Na+) in the filtrate was determined using flame photometer (Chapman,
1965).
3) Organic carbon and Soil Organic matter (SOM) were determined following the wet digestion method
of Walkley and Black (1934).
4) Total nitrogen was determined by Kjeldahl digestion, distillation and titration procedures as described
by Jackson (1958a and b) and Bremner et al. (1982).

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5) Available Phosphorus in the soil samples was determined by leaching the soil with 0.002N H2SO4 (1
soil : 200 H2SO4 suspension, w/v) and shaken for at least 30 minutes and filtered through Whatman filter paper
No. 50 to get a clear solution. the amount of phosphorus in the extract was estimated by chlorostannous
reduced phosphomolybdate blue colour method using spectrophotometer at wavelength of 690 nm (Jackson,
1973),
6) Water holding capacity of soil is the amount of maximum water, which can be held in the saturated
soil. It is measured as the amount of water taken up by unit weight of dry soil when immersed in water under
standardized conditions. Take a filter paper in a funnel and weigh it. Pour 10ml of water with a pipette wetting
the entire filter paper and collect excess of water until the last drop falls. Add 5g of soil in the funnel and find
the weight of the soil with wet filter paper. Pipette out 25ml of water and add gradually until the last drop of
water drips out of the funnel. Note the final weight.

 
%    ……  

where W1 = Weight of funnel + dry filter paper


W2 = Weight of funnel + wet filter paper
W3 = Weight of funnel + wet filter paper + 5g dry soil
W4 = Weight of funnel + wet filter paper + wet soil
7) Exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) and Sodium Absorption Ratio (SAR) is estimated by
calculation, by considering the values of exchangeable Na, exchangeable Ca, exchangeable K and
exchangeable Mg.

   ……  

  ……  

where the ionic concentrations of Ca, Mg, K and Na are expressed in meq/100g.
2.2.2 Fertility of soil
The nutrient status considers the instant availability of nutrients in soil. In order to evaluate the soil fertility
status in Markandeya river basin, different indices like soil reaction index, salt index and nutrient index with
respect to organic carbon (%), Available Nitrogen (Kg/ha), Available Phosphorus(Kg/ha) and Available Potash
(Kg/ha)were calculated based on the specific rating chart and criteria (Table 1).
The Nutrient Index in soil was evaluated for the soil samples analysed using the equation 4 and the
obtained results were interpreted by comparing with the rating chart given in Table 2.

.  
.
.
     ……  

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Table 1 Limits for soil test values used for rating the soils (Verma et al., 2005).
Nutrient Index
Soil Constituent Low (I) Medium (II) High (III)
Organic Carbon (%) <0.4 0.4-0.75 >0.75
Available Nitrogen (Kg/ha) <271 271-543 >543
Available Phosphorus (Kg/ha) <12.4 12.4-22.4 >22.4
Available Potassium (Kg/ha) <113 113-280 >280
Soil Reaction Index
I II III
Soil pH Acidity Neutral Neutral
(< 6.0) (6.0-8.0) (Above 8.0)
Salt Index
I II III
Electrical Conductivity (dS/m) Normal Critical Injurious
(< 1.0) (1.0 – 2.0) (> 2.0)

Table 2 Nutrient Index with Range and Remarks.


Nutrient index Range Remarks (OC, P, K, N)
I Below 1.67 Low
II 1.67 – 2.33 Medium
III Above 2.33 High

3 Results and Discussion


The descriptive statistics of physico-chemical parameters of soil from the study area are presented in Table 3.

Table 3 Descriptive statistics showing summarized results of soil characteristics.


Markandeya river basin (n = 30)
Parameters
Mean SD Min Max
pH 7.63 0.31 7.11 8.10
EC (dS/m) 0.058 0.069 0.014 0.310
Na (meq/100g) 1.82 1.56 0.44 8.35
K (meq/100g) 1.12 0.68 0.10 2.90
% K20 0.05 0.03 0.01 0.14
P (mg/100g) 0.02 0.02 0.00 0.07
Ca (meq/100g) 30.81 9.91 14.20 57.00
Mg meq/100g 11.38 4.84 3.81 26.05
% OC 0.61 0.30 0.06 1.50
% OM 1.06 0.52 0.10 2.59
WHC (%) 69.43 21.40 36.20 139.60
Available P (Kg/ha) 26.95 25.36 0.96 78.82
Avail. N2 (Kg/ha) 53.48 28.14 29.10 189.50
Avail K (Kg/ha) 577.17 350.82 44.80 1,500.8
SAR 0.29 0.24 0.07 1.24
ESP 4.17 3.10 0.87 15.30

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3.1 pH
The measure of soil pH is an important parameter which helps in identification of chemical nature of the soil
(Shalini et al., 2003) as it measures hydrogen ion concentration in the soil to indicate the acidity or alkalinity
nature of the soil. Soil acidity (pH) in the range 5.5-7.5 though rarely affects the growth of most crops directly,
but can influence the availability of other nutrients. The soil samples from Markandeya river basin has
favourable pH, with pH varying from 7.11 to 8.1, indicating slightly alkaline nature. The lowest pH value of
7.11 was found in sample no. RMS13, while a maximum pH of 8.1 was found in sample no. RMS22 and
RMS24 (Table 4). The alkaline nature in the soil samples may be due to high amount of leaching of
exchangeable anions as observed in the field.

Table 4 Measured pH of soil samples in the Markandeya river basin.


Sl. No pH values Range (No. of samples; %)
1 6.5 to 7.00 ----
2 7.00 to 7.5 7.11-7.5 (10; 33.34)
3 7.5 to 8.0 7.51-7.94 (14; 46.66)
4 8.0 to 8.5 8.02-8.1 (6; 20)

3.2 Electrical conductivity (salinity)


Conductivity, as a measure of current carrying capacity, gives a clear idea of the soluble salts present in the
soil. It plays a major role in the salinity of soils. Lesser the EC value, low will be the salinity value of soil and
vice versa. Even though, soil conductivity is influenced by many factors, high conductivities are usually
associated with clay-rich soil and low conductivities are associated with sandy and gravelly soils. This is a
result of the shape and physical properties of the particles which make up the soil. A salt affected soil is
defined as soil that has been adversely affected the growth of most crops by the presence anion or cation of
soluble salts. This type of soil is commonly seen in arid and semi-arid regions; in irrigation command areas; in
regions with poor drainage and in areas where poor quality water is used for irrigation, because there is
insufficient rainfall to flush them from the upper soil layers, which include both sodic and saline soils.

Table 5 Saline conditions and categories of crop tolerance.


EC (dS/m) Category Range (No. of samples; %)
< 0.7 All crops 0.014-0.310 (30;100)
0.7 – 2.0 Most crops ----
2.0 – 10.0 Salt tolerant crops ----
10.0 – 32.0 Most halophytes ----
33.0 > No crops (sea water) ----

The soluble salts concentration above 4 dS/m in soil moisture inhibits the seed germination and growth of
most commercial crops, which adversely affects the biomass production and economic yield. In the present
study, it is very much clear from the results that the salinity problem is not critical as the saline criterion was <
0.7, indicating the good quality of soil and considered suitable for agriculture (Table 5).

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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 81-94  87

Fig. 2 Spatial distribution of salinity in soil samples.

3.3 Water holding capacity


Water holding capacity is the amount of water that can be retained / held by the soil when all the pores in the
soil have been filled with water. Under this condition, soil is saturated with water, accompanied by very poor
or no drainage. The WHC of the soil samples ranged from 36.2 to 95.6 % in the study area. The standard for
WHC of soil is 5% and thus all the samples have water holding capacity well within the standard. WHC was
more in the surface soil layer which had greater accumulation of organic matter, litter, root mass, etc., thereby
indicating relatively stronger influence of soil organic matter on water holding capacity as observed by
Woomer and Swift (1994). Most locations in the study area had clayey type soil, which could hold more
amount of water.
3.4 Exchangeable calcium
In Markandeya river basin, the values varied from 14.2 to 57.0 meq/100g with a minimum concentration of
14.2 meq/100g in the sample RMS14 and a maximum value of 57 meq/100g in sample RMS30.
3.5 Exchangeable magnesium
In the Markandeya river basin, the concentrations varied from 3.81 to 26.05 meq/100g with a minimum
concentration of 3.81 meq/100g in the sample RMS14 and a maximum value of 26.05 meq/100g in sample
RMS30.
3.6 Exchangeable sodium
In the Markandeya river basin, the values varied from 0.44 to 8.35 meq/100g with a minimum value of 0.44
meq/100g (sample RMS25) and a maximum value of 8.35 meq/100g (sample RMS29).
3.7 Exchangeable potassium
Potassium (K) is the third most required element by the plants, which plays a key role in water balance in
plants or regulation of osmosis (Singh and Tripathi, 1993). It is the most abundant metal cation in plant cell (2
to 3 % by dry weight). In the Markandeya river basin, its values varied from 0.1 to 2.9 meq/100g, with a
minimum value of 0.1 meq/100g in the sample RMS30 and a maximum value of 2.9 meq/100g in sample
RMS25. Under ordinary field condition, with an adequate nutrient supply, K+ removal by crops is high, often
being three to four times that of phosphorus and equal to that of nitrogen. This tendency is termed as ‘luxury
consumption’ because the excess K+ adsorbed apparently does not increase crop yield to any extent. A certain
amount of this element is needed for optimum yields and this is termed as ‘required potassium’. All K+ above
this critical level is considered as luxury; the removal of which is ultimately wasteful. The various forms of

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88 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 81-94 

potassium in the soil can be classified on the basis of their availability (a) Relatively unavailable form (90-
98%), (b) Relatively available form (1-2% of the total amount of these elements in an average mineral soil)
and (c) Slowly available form (It is fixed form of K+, which cannot be replaced by ordinary exchange method
and is referred to as non-exchangeable K+).
The available Potash (K) values varied from 44.8 to 1500.8 kg/ha in the study area, with 90 % of the soil
samples showing adequate supply of available potassium (Table 6). Soil samples with deficient and doubtful
supply of potassium can be enriched with garden compost which contains 0.48% K2O or vermicompost
containing about 0.7% K2O.

Table 6 Classification of soil quality based on measured available potash concentration in soil (Muhr et al., 1965a, b; Verma et
al., 2005).

Sl. Supply of Available Quantity Range


No Potash (K) (Kg/ha) (No. of samples; %)

1 Deficient supply of (K) < 113 44.8-112 (2; 6.67)


2 Doubtful supply of (K) 113 to 280 201.6 (1; 3.33)
3 Adequate supply of (K) > 280 313.3-1500.8 (27; 90)

Fig. 3 Spatial distribution of available potash in soil samples.

3.8 Percent Organic carbon (OC) and Percent Organic Matter (OM)
The importance of organic matter in the soil is implied in the definition of soil, which recognizes fertility status
of the soil, as a unique feature distinguishing soil from the parent rock / other non-fertile soils. It increases the
soil fertility / nutrient status and controls erosion and runoff of the soil and water, besides it is a major
determinant of improved soil structure, moisture content and general nutrient status of the soil. It varies from
place to place and it is generally enhanced in thickly vegetated areas. The variation largely depends on soils,
climate, plant and animal species (Brady, 1995) although it is impossible to determine the optimum level of
organic matter required by the plants, as it is not a single value required for all the plants, for all the soils. The
percentage of organic carbon ranged from 0.06 to 1.5 in study area, indicating variable organic matter content
and decomposition rates, with 46.66 % of the sample showing medium percent organic carbon (i.e., <0.75).
The organic matter content varied from 0.1-2.59 % in the study area. The quality of soil may be graded
depending upon the organic carbon content (%) as given in Table 7 and accordingly, majority of the soil

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samples (i.e., 73.33 %) appear to possess low to medium percent organic carbon content and it is necessary to
apply organic wastes as an important source of nutrient to these agricultural fields.

Table 7 Classification of soil quality based on organic carbon content (Muhr et al., 1965a, b; Verma et al., 2005).
Sl. Percent of Range
Rating
No organic carbon (No. of samples; %)
1 < 0.40 Low 0.06-0.39 (8; 26.67)
2 0.4 to 0.75 Medium 0.45-0.75 (14; 46.66)
3 > 0.75 High 0.84-1.5 (8; 26.67)

Fig. 4 Spatial distribution of organic carbon (%) in soil samples.

3.9 Available nitrogen


Plants take up nitrogen generally as nitrates under aerobic conditions and as ammonium ions during anaerobic
conditions. Nitrogen is most often the limiting nutrient for the plant growth. In Markandeya river basin,
nitrogen content is very low (<272 Kg/ha) in all the soil samples (Table 8). Excess Soil moisture content is one
of the important factors affecting nitrification in water logged soils and is having a major contribution to vary
the process. When excess water is found in water logged areas, soil suppresses the process of nitrification
because of deficient oxygen. Unlike in dry soils as in case of our study area soils however, do have enough
moisture for the bacterial metabolism and the moistening of such soils rapidly increases the rate of
biosynthesis of nitrogen.

Fig. 5 Spatial distribution of available nitrogen in soil samples.

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Table 8 Concentration of Nitrogen in the soil (Muhr et al., 1965a, b; Verma et al., 2005).
Sl. Quantity of nitrogen Range (No. of samples; %)
Rating
No. (Kg/ha)
1 Less than 271 Low 29.1-189.5 (30;100)
2 Between 272 to 553 Medium -----
3 More than 553 High ----

3.10 Available phosphorus


Phosphorus is the second most important macronutrient available in the biological systems, which constitutes
more than 1% of the dry organic weight. It is also a second most limiting factor that often affecting plant
growth, which exists in the soil in both organic and inorganic forms. In the Markandeya river basin, the
available phosphorus content ranged between 0.96 to 78.82 kg/ha (Fig 6), with 50 % of the soil samples
showing low to medium available phosphorus. The remaining samples showed adequate to abundant
phosphorus quantity (Table 9). Soils from Agricultural fields with low to medium phosphorus content in the
study areas can be supplemented by applying phosphorous rich fertilizers as required by a specific crop.

Table 9 Measured concentration of available phosphorus in soil (Muhr et al., 1965a, b).

Sl. Concentration Range


Grade
No (Kg/ha) (No. of samples; %)
1 Low phosphorus Less than 12.4 0.96-6.45 (12;40)
2 Medium phosphorus 12.4 to 22.4 12.7-15.1 (3;10)
3 Adequate phosphorus More than 22.4 24.77-31.87 (3;10)
4 Abundant phosphorus Still higher 40.35-78.82 (12;40)

Fig. 6 Spatial distribution of available phosphorus in soil samples.

3.11 Exchangeable Sodium Percentage (ESP)


The exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) identifies the degree to which the adsorption / exchange complex
of soil is saturated with sodium. The ESP levels of 15 yield pH values of 8.5 and above. Higher levels may
bring the pH to at least 10. It is important to note that sodium has been found partially to take the place of
potassium in the nutrition of certain plants. Exchangeable Sodium percentage values for all the soil samples in
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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 81-94  91

the Markandeya river basins varied between 0.87 to 15.3 (Table 10; Fig. 7), which fall under excellent
category suggesting good indication of a fertile soil status.

Table 10 Classification of soil samples based on ESP values.


Sl.
ESP Category Range (No. of samples; %)
No.
1 < 20 Excellent 0.87-15.3 (30; 100)
2 20 to 40 Good ----
3 40 to 60 Permissible ----
4 60 to 80 doubtful ----

Fig. 7 Spatial distribution of exchangeable sodium percentage in soil samples.

3.12 Sodium Absorption Ratio (SAR)


Sodium Absorption Ratio is considered as a better measure of sodium hazard in irrigation as SAR of water is
directly related to the absorption of sodium by soil and is a valuable criterion for determining the suitability of
water for irrigation. When the concentration of sodium ion is high in irrigation water, Na+ tends to be
absorbed by clay particles, displacing magnesium and calcium ions. This exchange process of sodium in water
for Ca2+ and Mg2+ in soil reduces the permeability and eventually results in soil with poor internal drainage.
In agricultural practice, sodium concentration is also expressed in terms of sodium absorption ratio. SAR
values in all the soil samples analyzed ranged from 0.066 to 1.242, belonging to excellent category for the
purpose of irrigation (Table 11; Fig. 8).

Table 11 SAR based Classification of soil samples.


Sl.
SAR Category Range (No. of samples; %)
No.
1 Less than 10 Excellent 0.066-1.242 (30;100)
2 10 to 18 Good ----
3 18 to 26 Fair ----
4 More than 26 Poor ----

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Fig. 8 Spatial distribution of sodium absorption ratio in soil samples.

3.13 Soil fertility assessment


A close study of the physico-chemical parameters analyzed reveals some interesting and important information
about the quality of soil in the study area. The study area poses no significant problem, barring a few cases
where the salinity of the soil is slightly high and there is virtually no area, which is unsuited for sustained
irrigation. Most of the area is problem free - as the soils are fertile having adequate supply of most of the
nutrients and are located in rain fed areas receiving sufficient rainfall.
It is possible to classify soil samples to Soil Reaction Index class of I (Acidity, < 6.0), II (Neutral, 6.0-8.0)
and III (Neutral, > 8.0) based on soil pH. Accordingly, pH varying from 7.11 and 8.1 grouped 80% of the
samples to fall under soil reaction index class II and 20% to soil reaction index class III, which shows that the
soils of the study area are under the neutral and alkaline range. Soil samples further can be grouped into salt
index class of I (normal, < 1.0dS/m), II (critical, 1.0 – 2.0 dS/m) and III (injurious, > 2.0 dS/m) respectively
based on their conductivity values. Accordingly, all the samples fall under Salt index category of I, having
normal salt concentration ranging from 0.014 to 0.310 dS/m.
Alternatively, separate nutrient index was calculated for each of the parameters namely, %OC, available
nitrogen, available potash and available phosphorus. The organic carbon content of soil samples was in the
range of 0.06 to 1.5 % and majority of the samples belong to low to medium level with a nutrient index value
of 2.0. The available phosphorus values fall in low to high range, with a nutrient index value of 2.1. The
available nitrogen content fall under low range in the study area, with a nutrient index of 1.0 while majority of
samples had high available potash content with a nutrient index of 2.83 (Table 12).

Table 12 Soil test summary and nutrient indices.


% Sample
Soil Parameters Nutrient Index
Low Medium High
% OC 26.67 46.66 26.67 2.00
Avail. N 100 -- -- 1.00
Avail. P 40 10 50 2.10
Avail. K 6.67 3.33 90 2.83

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3%
7%
3%

H‐L‐H
H‐L‐M
L‐L‐H 47%
L‐L‐L
M‐L‐H
37% M‐L‐L

3%

Fig. 9 Soil fertility categories in the Markandeya river basin.

Further, the soils of Markandeya river basin can be characterized into six soil fertility categories (w.r.t.
available N, P & K) based on the criteria given in Table 1. The six soil fertility categories include High-Low-
High (HLH), High-Low-Medium (HLM), Low-Low-High (LLH), Low-Low-Low (LLL), Medium-Low-High
(MLH) and Medium-Low-Low (MLL) and their percentage share is represented in Fig. 9. With the help of
nutrient indices, a rating chart / criteria given in Table 2 and equation 4, it is possible to classify overall
nutrient status in the soil samples from the study into different nutrient level (i.e., low, medium or high). It is
evident from Table 13 that the overall nutrient status of soils from Markandeya river basin is characterized as
medium-low-high-low (MLHL) category. There exist wide variations in soil fertility status in the Markandeya
river basin in comparison to the results obtained for soil fertility categories by Verma et al. (2005). In a similar
study by Ravikumar and Somashekar (2013), the soils of Varahi River basin was categorised as low-medium-
low (LML) based on the nutrient index calculated w.r.t. available organic carbon, available P and available K.

Table 13 Nutrient Index values for the soil samples of the study areas.
Nutrient index
Characteristics Remarks
values
Organic carbon (OC) 2.00 Medium
Available phosphorus (P) 2.10 Low
Available potash (K) 2.83 High
Avail. N 1.00 Low

4 Conclusion
Nutrient index calculated classified overall nutrient status in the soils from Markandeya river basin as medium-
low-high-low (MLHL) class. The present study revealed that there is wide variation in soil fertility status of
soils developed on various land forms in the study area, but, by and large, the soils are low in available N and
low available P, medium in organic carbon and high in available K contents. Irrigational quality parameters
(SAR and ESP) indicated that the soils were excellent for irrigation. But, the deficient nutrients have to be
restored through chemical fertilizers and/or organic manures to maintain soil health. Hence, soil samples with

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94 Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2014, 4(2): 81-94 

deficient and doubtful supply of potassium can be enriched with garden compost that contains 0.48% K2O or
vermicompost containing around 0.7% K2O. Finally, for efficient and sustainable crop production in these
soils, a farming system that is both soil enriching and restoring needs to be developed.

References
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Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and
Environmental Sciences
ISSN 2220-8860

Volume 4, Number 2, 1 June 2014

Articles

Calcium and potassium dynamics and biopurification in two populations of the


subalpine evergreen shrub Rhododendron ferrugineum
Charles Marty, Thierry Lamaze, André Pornon, Jérome Viers 50-61

Bioaccumulation of chromium by Zea mays in wastewater-irrigated


soil: An experimental study
Fatemeh Zojaji, Amir Hessam Hassani, Mohammad Hossein Sayadi 62-67

Heavy metal speciation of soil and Calotropis procera from thermal power
plant area
Santosh Kumar Prajapati, Neelima Meravi 68-71

Exploitation survey of sea water in agriculture of coastal deserts in Libya


Mohamed Nasar 72-80

Spatial distribution of macronutrients in soils of Markandeya river basin,


Belgaum(d), Karnataka(s), India
P. Ravikumar, R. K. Somashekar 81-94

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