Impact of mountain cropping systems on groundwater quality and soil accumulation of heavy metals in Mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh in India

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The impact of the mountain cropping system on groundwater quality and soil heavy metal accumulation was studied in mid-hills of Solan and Kullu districts of Himachal Pradesh. To assess the impact of dominant cropping systems, the four commonly occurring systems, namely vegetable, fruit, cereal crop and agroforestry were selected in the area ranging from 800-1800m. Uncultivated land in the region was considered as control. In total, there were five treatments which were replicated six times under randomized block design. The study was conducted for two years, i.e. during 2014 and 2015. The study indicated that the mountain cropping systems varied significantly with respect to their impact on groundwater quality and soil heavy metal accumulation. The pH, electrical conductivity, chlorides, nitrates and sulphates in groundwater were within drinking water permissible limits prescribed by Bureau to Indian Standards (BIS). The concentration of zinc, arsenic and nickel in groundwater was also within drinking water critical limits prescribed by BIS but lead and cadmium exceeded the limits. The concentration of lead and cadmium ranged from 0.12 to 0.27 mg L⁻¹ and 0 to 0.02 mg L⁻¹, respectively, and followed similar crop system-wise trend, i.e. vegetable > fruit > agriculture > agroforestry > control. The soil accumulation of zinc, arsenic and nickel was within permissible limits prescribed by WHO but lead and cadmium violated the limits. Interestingly, soil accumulation of lead exceeded WHO permissible limits under all cropping systems, including the control. The accumulation of lead and cadmium in soil ranged from 0.16 to 0.44 mg kg⁻¹ and 0.02 to 0.12 mg kg⁻¹, respectively, and had a similar crop system-wise trend they had in groundwater. Therefore, to maintain the quality of the important natural resources like groundwater and soil in mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh, necessary steps need to be taken.

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... Sulphate content in groundwater ranged from 26.54 to 76.00 mg L ( Table 2) Relatively high Cd concentration in vegetable and orchard land uses may possibly be ascribed to chemical based farming in the region. The results are in compliance with the findings of Zhang et al. (2007), Ndungu and Bhardwaj (2016), Rana et al. (2016) and Wijayawardhana et al. (2016). ...
... Pb concentration in ground water sources under all land uses and varied from 0.04 to 0.39 mg L agriculture (0.10 mg L ). Lowest Pb -1 concentration was observed under forest land use (0.04 mg L ). Results are in conformity with the findings of -1Ndungu and Bhardwaj (2016) for mid hill region. The Pb content of groundwater under all land uses were found to be beyond permissible limits prescribed by CPCB (2009) except for forest land use which suggests high Pb pollution risk in the region. ...
Impact of dominant land use changes on groundwater quality was assessed in mid hills of Himachal Pradesh. Area under vegetable, orchard and urban settlements has increased, whereas traditional agriculture and forest has decreased in the region during last 30 years. To assess the impact of such changes on groundwater quality an experiment was designed by taking five dominant land uses viz., traditional agriculture, commercial vegetable farming, orchard, forest and urban under randomized block design with four replications in Kullu and Solan district. 60 ground water samples were collected and analyzed for various water quality parameters. Study revealed that the land use changes have exerted significant influence on ground water quality parameters like EC, BOD, COD, chloride, nitrate, sulphate, Ca, Mg, Fe, Pb, Cd and Cr. The BOD, COD Cl, NO3, SO4, Ca and Mg concentration in groundwater varied in the order of land use: urban > vegetable > orchard > traditional agriculture > forest. Vegetable and urban land uses have started to adversely influence groundwater quality by exceeding the values of heavy metals over permissible limits.
... Their trace concentrations are known to affect soil fertility (Giller and Witter 1998), reduce crop productivity (Nagajyoti et al. 2010) and influence ecological health (Chowdhury and Maiti 2016). Common sources of these heavy metals include industrial and mining activities, disposal of metalliferous waste (WHO 1981), use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides (Ndungu and Bhardwaj 2016), vehicular emissions (Sharma and Uniyal 2016), emissions from process and coal burning (Kashyap et al. 2018) and developmental activities (Krishna and Govil 2007). These heavy metals are xenobiotic, highly mobile and persistent in soil (Kumar et al. 2014). ...
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The study investigated spatial distribution of heavy metals in soils of urban, peri-urban and rural habitation land-uses, and the ecological risks associated with them in the Indian Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. Soils of undisturbed forest were taken as control. A total of 72 soil samples were collected and assayed by atomic absorption spectrophotometer for cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, nickel and zinc. Positive correlations were observed between cadmium–chromium, cadmium–manganese, cadmium–nickel, chromium–manganese, chromium–nickel and manganese–nickel. Higher concentrations (mg/kg) of cadmium (4.956 ± 0.031), chromium (17.299 ± 0.567), manganese (76.473 ± 0.031) and nickel (82.225 ± 7.342) were recorded in urban land-use soils. Lead (44.882 ± 3.202) and zinc (192.613 ± 34.180) reported maximum values in peri-urban and rural land-use soils, respectively. Peri-urban and urban land-use soils were extremely polluted with loads of lead and cadmium, respectively. However, control site was contamination-free. High values of contamination factor and geo-accumulation index in urban and peri-urban land-use indicated contamination in order of cadmium > nickel and > zinc. Degree of contamination and associated ecological risk index were also high in urban and peri-urban as compared to rural and control soils.
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