Mining activities could produce a large volume of spoils, waste rocks, and tailings, which are usually deposited at the surface and become a source of metal pollution. Phytostabilization of the mine spoils could limit the spread of these heavy metals. Phytostabilization can be enhanced by using soil amendments such as manure-based biochars capable of immobilizing metal(loid)s when combined with plant species that are tolerant of high levels of contaminants while simultaneously improving properties of mine soils. However, the use of manure-based biochars and other organic amendments for mine spoil remediation are still unclear. In this greenhouse study, we evaluated the interactive effect of biochar additions (BA) with or without the manure-based compost (MBC) on the shoots biomass (SBY), roots biomass (RBY), uptake, and bioconcentration factor (BCF) of Zn and Cd in corn (Zea mays
L.) grown in mine soil. Biochar additions consisting of beef cattle manure (BCM); poultry litter (PL); and lodge pole pine (LPP) were applied at 0, 2.5, and 5.0% (w/w) in combination with different rates (0, 2.5, and 5.0%, w/w) of MBC, respectively. Shoots and roots uptake of Cd and Zn were significantly affected by BA, MBC, and the interaction of BA and MBC. Corn plants that received 2.5% PL and 2.5% BCM had the greatest Cd and Zn shoot uptake, respectively. Corn plants with 5% BCM had the greatest Cd and Zn root uptake. When averaged across BA, the greatest BCF for Cd in the shoot of 92.3 was from the application of BCM and the least BCF was from the application of PL (72.8). Our results suggest that the incorporation of biochar enhanced phytostabilization of Cd and Zn with concentrations of water-soluble Cd and Zn lowest in soils amended with manure-based biochars while improving the biomass productivity of corn. Overall, the phytostabilization technique and biochar additions have the potential to be combined in the remediation of heavy metals polluted soils.
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