Lumbricus terrestris L. does not impact on the remediation efficiency of compost and biochar amendments

Tom Sizmur, Jeremy Wingate, Tony Hutchings, Mark E. Hodson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to test the impact of compost and biochar, with or without earthworms, on the mobility and availability of metals, and on the growth of grass to re-vegetate contaminated soil from the Parys Mountain mining site, Anglesey. We also determined if the addition of earthworms compromises remediation efforts.

In a laboratory experiment, contaminated soil (1343 mg Cu kg(-1), 2511 mg Pb kg(-1) and 262 mg Zn kg(-1)) was remediated with compost and/or biochar. After 77 days Lumbricus terrestris L. earthworms were added to the treatment remediated with both compost and biochar, and left for 28 days. L. terrestris was not able to survive in the biochar, compost or unamended treatments. A germination and growth bioassay, using Agrostis capillaris (Common Bent) was then run on all treatments for 28 days.

The combination of biochar and compost decreased water soluble Cu (from 5.6 to 0.2 mg kg(-1)), Pb (from 0.17 to less than 0.007 mg kg(-1)) and Zn (from 3.3 to 0.05 mg kg(-1)) in the contaminated soil and increased the pH from 2.7 to 6.6. The addition of L. terrestris to this treatment had no effect on the concentration of the water soluble metals in the remediated soil.

The compost was the only treatment that resulted in germination and growth of A. capillaris suitable for re-vegetation purposes. However, the combination of compost and biochar (with or without L. terrestris) produced the lowest concentrations of Cu (8 mg kg(-1)) and Zn (36 mg kg(-1)) in the aboveground biomass, lower than the compost treatment (15 mg Cu kg(-1) and 126 mg Zn kg(-1)).

The addition of biochar and compost both separately and as co-amendments was effective in reducing the mobility and availability of metals. The addition of L. terrestris did not re-mobilise previously sequestered metals. (C) 2011 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S211-S216
Number of pages6
Issue numberSupplement
Early online date4 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

© 2011, Elsevier GmbH.

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