Spanish Journal of Soil Science, 5, 154-164 (2015)
In Galicia (NW Spain), pasturelands cover a broad extension and are mainly used to feed cattle. Farms are managed in an intensive manner, using cattle slurry and inorganic fertilizers to increase pasture production, but also increasing risks of heavy metal pollution. In this work we studied the influence of fertilization practices on total concentrations and in-depth distribution of heavy metals and related elements (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn) in two forest soils (SN1, SN2) and five pastureland soils (P1-P5) fertilized with cattle slurry and NPK, in a broadly exploded farmland area (A Pastoriza, Lugo). Soils SN2 and P4 were developed over slate, whereas soils SN1, P1, P2, P3 and P5 evolved on Candana quartzite. Forest soils presented acid pH (4.58-4.68), high Al saturation (75-90%), and low available P concentration (4.78-11.96 mg kg-1), whereas those parameters exhibited better scores in the pastureland soils, due to previous amendment and fertilization practices, thus giving pH 5.17-7.02, Al saturation 0.58-59.24%, and available P 5.24-42.07 mg kg-1. Regarding heavy metals, soil depth did not affect significantly to total concentrations, contrary to that happening with parent material, with higher As, Cu, Fe, and Ni concentrations found in soils over slate (possibly due to the presence of pyritic materials). In most cases, heavy metal total concentrations were lower than that considered as reference background levels for soils developed over each of the parent materials, and were always lower than that considered phyto-toxic. In this study, natural soils usually presented heavy metal total contents similar or even higher than that of the fertilized soils (unless Zn in the P4 pastureland), thus indicating that the spread doses of fertilizers did not influence significantly their concentration levels.