Using isotopes to trace freshly applied cadmium through mineral phosphorus fertilization in soil-fertilizer-plant systems.


Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zurich, Eschikon 33, CH-8315 Lindau, Switzerland; Institut des Sciences de la Terre, Université Grenoble Alpes - CNRS, 38058 Grenoble Cedex 9, France. Electronic address: [Email]


Applications of mineral phosphorus (P) fertilizer can lead to cadmium (Cd) accumulation in soils and can increase Cd concentrations in edible crop parts. To determine the fate of freshly applied Cd, a Cd source tracing experiment was conducted in three soil-fertilizer-wheat systems by using a mineral P fertilizer labeled with the radio isotope 109Cd and by exploiting natural differences in Cd stable isotope compositions (δ114/110Cd). Source tracing with stable isotopes overestimated the proportion of Cd in plants derived from the P fertilizer, because the isotope ratios of the sources were not sufficiently distinct from those of the soils. Despite indistinguishable extractable Cd pools between control and treatments, the addition of P fertilizer resulted in a more negative apparent isotope fractionation between soil and wheat. Overall, the radio isotope approach provided more robust results and revealed that 6.5 to 15% of the Cd in the shoot derived from the fertilizer. From the introduced Cd, a maximum of 2.2% reached the wheat shoots, whilst 97.8% remained in the roots and soils. The low recoveries of the fertilizer derived Cd suggest that continuous P fertilizer application in the past decades can lead to a build-up of a residual Cd pool in soils.


Cadmium,Mineral P fertilizer,Pot experiment,Radio isotopes,Source tracing,Stable isotopes,Wheat,