ArticleTRACE METAL ACCUMULATION BY RED CLOVER GROWN ON SEWAGE SLUDGE-AMENDED SOILS AND CORRELATION TO MEHLICH 3 AND CALCIUM CHLORIDE-EXTRACTABLE METALSMcBride, M. B.1; Nibarger, E. A.1; Richards, B. K.2; Steenhuis, T.2Author Information 1Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Bradford and Emerson Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. 2Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 Dr. McBride is corresponding author. E-mail: [email protected] Received June 7, 2002; accepted Aug. 28, 2002. DOI: 10.1097/01.ss.0000049728.22043.55 Soil Science: January 2003 - Volume 168 - Issue 1 - p 29-38 Buy Abstract With the availability of sensitive multielement analytical capability, it is no longer essential to use chemically aggressive soil tests to extract measurable levels of most trace elements. However, the relative abilities of mild and aggressive extractants to assess metal bioavailability in soils have rarely been compared. A greenhouse experiment was carried out to compare a mild soil extractant (hot 0.01 M CaCl2) with an aggressive one (Mehlich 3) for predicting accumulation of trace metals by red clover (Trifolium pratense L.). Clover was grown on large columns of nonacid fine-textured and acid coarse-textured soils that had been amended several years earlier by a heavy application of sewage sludge products, and pH was subsequently adjusted using CaCO3 or H2SO4. The soil extractants (CaCl2 and Mehlich 3) and clover tissue were analyzed for trace metals (As, Cd, Mo, Cu, Ni, Mn, Pb, and Zn) by axial-view ICP spectrophotometry. Linear regression analyses were performed to relate the concentration of each trace element in the red clover tissue to the concentration extracted from the soil. The results indicate that CaCl2 extraction is more reliable than Mehlich 3 extraction when evaluating plant availability of trace elements in soils with a wide range of properties (especially pH). The strongly acidic nature of the Mehlich 3 extractant caused large quantities of metals such as Zn, Cd, Cu, and Ni to be extracted from metal-contaminated soils even when the plant availability of these metals was low because of near-neutral soil pH or high clay and organic matter content. Conversely, in coarse-textured and acid soils containing lower total concentrations of metals, plant-available metals were often relatively high, yet Mehlich 3 frequently extracted smaller quantities of metals from these soils than from the near-neutral soils. We conclude that dilute CaCl2 is preferable to Mehlich 3 as a universal soil extractant for estimating short-term trace metal availability to crops. © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.