Contamination of arable land with trace metals is a global environmental issue which has serious consequences on human health and food security. Present study evaluates the adsorption of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) by using different quantities of composite of sepiolite, organic manure and lime (SOL) at field and laboratory scale (batch experiments). Characterization of SOL by SEM, EDS and FTIR spectroscopy revealed the presence of elemental and functional groups (hydroxyl, C⋯H and –COOH groups) on its surface. The field experiment was performed in a paddy field of gleysol having moderate contamination of Cd and Pb (0.64 mg kg−1 and 53.44 mg kg−1). Here, different rates of SOL (0.25, 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2% w/w) were applied by growing low and high Cd accumulator rice cultivars. Application of SOL at 2% w/w showed considerable efficiency to increase soil pH (up to 19%) and to reduce available Cd (42–66%) and Pb (22–55%) as compared to the control. Moreover, its application reduced metal contents in roots, shoots and grains of rice by 31%, 36% and 72% (for Cd) and 41%, 81% and 84% (for Pb), respectively in low accumulator cultivar. Further, the batch sorption experiment was performed to evaluate the adsorption capacity of SOL in a wide range of contamination. Obtained sorption data was better fitted to the Langmuir equation. Our results highlight the strong efficiency of composite treatment for an enhanced in-situ metal immobilization under field and lab conditions. Further, applied treatments greatly reduced the metal contents in rice grains. In a nut shell, application of SOL in a contaminated gleysol should be considered for soil remediation and safe food production.
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