Sufficient and Phytotoxic Levels of Heavy Metals in Plants

Heavy metals present in the soil are absorbed by the plants growing in it to either sufficient or phytotoxic levels (Dhillon and Dhillon 1996) (Table 16.2).

Nevertheless, any organism has the ability to withstand the presence of certain quantities of essential and nonessential elements in its environment and include them in their growth processes. However, high levels of these elements can be toxic to the organism (Bradshaw and McNeily 1991), and can lead to characteristic stress symptoms, such as disturbances in photosynthesis and respiration as well as

Table 16.1 Heavy metal contents of different materials used in agriculture

(from Dhillon and Dhillon 1996)

Table 16.1 Heavy metal contents of different materials used in agriculture

(from Dhillon and Dhillon 1996)

Element

Sewage

Sludge City waste water

Conc SP a Gypsum

fog l-1)

(mg kg-1)

Cr

1.5-7.5

326

-

--

Pb

25

45

114

--

Cd

2.6-25

-

-

8-83 1-12

Zn

50-74

1,675

340-2,760

89-973 6-48

Mn

-

30

40-390

--

Fe

-

4,092

1,260-12,300

--

Cu

-

400

90-310

--

Ni

-

8,210

40-850

- -

a Concentrated suspended particles a Concentrated suspended particles

Table 16.2 Sufficient and phytotoxic levels (mg kg ') of heavy metals in plants (from Dhillon and Dhillon 1996)

Element Sufficient

Phytotoxic

Element

Sufficient

Phytotoxic

Zn 20-100

>500

Cr

<1-5

-

Mn 15-200

>500

Co

-

25-100

Cu 5-20

>30

Mo

<1-5

>10

Ni <1-10

>10

Se

-

>100

Pb <1-3

-

-

-

-

reduced biomass production. The cultivation of sugarcane adjacent to industrial activity and metal-polluted landfills, and the application of municipal wastes to the soil along with the indiscriminate use of phosphatic fertilizers and pesticides can enhance the levels of toxic heavy metals in the soil, and thus in sugarcane. Therefore, the present chapter describes the effects of heavy metal pollution of the soil on the growth and juice quality of sugarcane.

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