This project addresses with a transdisciplinary approach (Agronomy AGR02, Forest Engineering AGR08, Agricultural Chemistry AGR13, Pedology AGR14, Agricultural Microbiology AGR16, Botany BIO02, Geochemistry GEO08, Chemical plants and Industrial processes 09/D3) the main weak points of the current protocols for environmental characterization and management of contaminated soils. Soil spatial variability in different field scale case studies (Campania, Sardinia) will be assessed by means of low-cost geophysical approaches (Task 1.1) aimed to map anomalies and address the scheme of direct samplings for geochemical analyses (Task 1.2) for defining a realistic distribution of contaminants. Maps will be used to design precision bio- and phyto-remediation practices (Task 2.1, 2.2) based on soil fertilization with compost and ecological structures (e.g. poplar and giant reed stands, permanent meadows) aimed to stimulate biodegradation of organic contaminants, phytoextraction of Potentially Toxic Elements (PTEs) and interruption of exposure pathways to contaminants.
In the contaminated fields, some areas with different rhizosphere models (crops by different contamination types) will be identified and massively sampled for the activities at mesoscale level: Task 3.1: evaluation of contaminant bio-availability by chemical methods; Task 3.2: assessment of soil contamination, bio-availability and remediation of PTEs by X-ray techniques; Task 3.3: microscopical assessment of contaminant dynamics in soils; Task 3.4: physiological, biochemical and molecular aspects of pollutant changes at rhizosphere level; Task 3.5: microbial consortium with multiple biotechnological activities.
Results from WP3 will also be used for the fine tuning of precision remediation practices described in WP2. Mesocosms will be made also with soil from an industrial site in Campania (ex ILVA-NA).
Lignocellulosic biomasses produced from the field scale activities described in WP2 will be used for pyrolysis optimization aimed to recover secondary raw materials (WP4). Char produced from WP4 activities and the microbial consortium produced from Task 3.5 activities will be used in the mesocosm experiments for evaluating their effects on plant growth, contaminant mobility or biodegradation (Task 3.1, 3.2).
The hypothesis of this research is that the integration of precision bio and phytoremediation practices, supported by high spatial resolution diagnostic techniques, can provide sustainable options for the effective, low-cost remediation and agronomic use of contaminated soils.
The aim of RIZOBIOREM is to develop new cost saving, environmental friendly and socially acceptable protocols for the sustainable management of contaminated soils, based on the in-depth analysis of the processes controlling bioavailability and mobility of contaminants under different environmental and agronomic contexts.
Particular attention will be made to dissemination activities (WP5)for improving people awareness about the importance of soil and environmental quality and for improving social participation.
The transdisciplinary study will provide significant scientific advancements which will result into new protocols based on the integration of precision phytoremediation approaches able to cure the injuries to soils just by protecting this unrenewable resource from further degradation or permanent loss, but also by improving and restoring its ecosystem services.