Cadmium and other Heavy Metals - Detection and Mitigation in Horticultural Produce, Soils and other Crops (CREDIT)

Dublin Institute of Technology

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  • DIT Cathal Brugha Street
    Dublin Institute of Technology
    Nov 19, 2018

Recent mandatory testing has indicated that a proportion of Irish horticultural produce may be at risk of failing European maximum levels (MLs) for cadmium (Cd). This project provides research to mitigate threats to Irish agricultural and horticultural production industries from heavy metal uptake and will develop practical solutions of international interest while building a national expertise in this area. This research opportunity will allow considerable opportunities for publication in high impact journals, collaboration with multidisciplinary research group both national and international.    

Soil risk categorisation for Cd uptake by plants is extremely complicated and not simply governed by soil Cd content. Soil properties such as pH, organic matter (OM), cation exchange capacity (CEC) and Zinc (Zn) have been identified as indicators of soil Cd uptake and can be and reduce uptake of

Chemometric models using MIR for soil and amended soilused to model Cd uptake in crops. However, conventional methods of soil chemical analysis for these parameters are time consuming and expensive, requiring a number of different laboratory tests and assays with various digestion, extraction and ignition steps before results can be reported.  In routine analytical laboratories delays are common due to high sample throughput, which can hold up the transfer of important results back to growers, essential for monitoring soil quality and soil contamination.  Advances in soil spectroscopy now offer a rapid, low cost technique for the prediction of a wide range of chemical and physical soil properties.


This project will exploit the combined capabilities of MIR and XRF to provide a rapid, reliable and cheaper alternative to conventional methods to determine indicators of Cd availability and heavy metal concentration in soil and amended soils, and evaluate the stability of chemometric calibrations for on-site analysis. The project will also evaluate the capabilities of LIBS and its application for the detection of Cd in soil and crops and explore its spatial distribution in plants.