Soil remediation using compost
This is an emerging technology that is gaining considerable acceptance due to its success for the treatment of various contaminants and its environmentally friendly principles. Research suggests that particular activities of compost can be enhanced to further increase the effectiveness of this technology.
Some naturally occurring minerals such as clays and zeolites interact with metals to form a matrix in which the bioavailability of the metals is remarkably decreased. This attribute, coupled with the biodegradation capability of the compost, could provide a unique and novel remediation technique. The ultimate goal of the technique is to return the site to its pre-contamination condition and to re-vegetate, to stabilise the treated soil. Novel composts can advance this goal by facilitating plant growth and providing soil conditioning and nutrients to a wide variety of vegetation, as well as reducing bioavailable contaminant levels.
This can be developed to enhance specific attributes, produced from particular feed stocks to increase chemical and biological activity and sorption. Most of the research published in the field is based on the use of ‘un-amended’ composts. The scientific literature also indicates that naturally occurring minerals play a major role in controlling the environmental fate and availability of both organic and inorganic contaminants. We are particularly interested in the improvement of both the metal and organic-binding capacity of composts by the addition of inorganic materials.
We conducted research within the EPSRC SUBR:IM consortium designed to:
- Develop a novel sustainable remediation technique that will rely on the use of waste produced materials (composts) combined with naturally occurring minerals (clays, zeolites) in order to enhance the biodegradation and immobilisation capability of the compost.
- Perform nursery and field based trials to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology by monitoring the bio-availability of the contaminants of concerns to plants under specific experimental conditions.
Ouki, S., van Herwijnen, R., Harbottle, M., Hutchings, T., Al-Tabbaa, A., Johns, M. and Moffat, A. (2007). Novel special-purpose composts for sustainable remediation. In: Sustainable Brownfield Regeneration. Liveable places from problem spaces. (Eds T. Dixon, M. Raco, P. Catney and D. N. Lerner). Blackwells, Oxford.
Moffat, A.J., Hutchings, T., Kilbride, C., Sellers, G., Sinnett, D. and van Herwijnen, R. (2004). Turning brownfields green. Green Places 8, 30-33.