Effects of full inversion tillage during pasture renewal on soil and plant cadmium concentrations: a case study in New Zealand

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CSIRO Publishing
Context: Cadmium (Cd) accumulation is a concern in permanent pasture soils, as it can lead to increased Cd uptake by plants. Aims: This study aimed to quantify the effect of full inversion tillage (FIT or ploughing deeper than 30 cm), used during pasture renewal, on the redistribution of Cd within the soil profile and on plant Cd concentration. Methods: Two field trials (Trial 1, Alfisol; Trial 2, Andisol) were established in New Zealand using contrasting tillage practices (FIT; SIT, shallow tillage; and NT, no tillage) to sow turnips as summer forage crops, followed by autumn re-sowing of perennial ryegrass/white clover pasture. Key results: In the Alfisol, no measurable differences (P > 0.05) in soil and plant Cd were detected among the tillage treatments. In the Andisol, FIT decreased (P < 0.05) total (0.25 mg/kg) and extractable soil Cd (0.013 mg/kg) in the 0–5 cm depth, compared to pre-tillage (0.42 and 0.031 mg/kg, respectively). Moreover, at this soil depth, FIT achieved a 52% lower (P = 0.034) extractable soil Cd concentration than the ST treatment. In addition, the subsequent new pasture had lower (P = 0.007) average Cd concentration following FIT compared to ST (0.03 vs 0.05 mg/kg). Conclusions: We demonstrated that the use of FIT during pasture renewal is a potential solution to reduce topsoil Cd concentration. Implications: The FIT is more effective in soil where total soil Cd concentration or its degree of vertical stratification with depth is relatively high.
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Soil Research, 2022