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A Handbook of Industrial Ecology

Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres

Industrial ecology is coming of age and this superb book brings together leading scholars to present a state-of-the-art overviews of the subject. Each part of the book comprehensively covers the following issues in a systematic style: the goals and achievements of industrial ecology and the history of the field; methodology, covering the main approaches to analysis and assessment; economics and industrial ecology; industrial ecology at the national/regional level; industrial ecology at the sectoral/materials level; and applications and policy implications.
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Chapter 33: Heavy metals in agrosystems

Simon W. Moolenaar


Simon W. Moolenaar* Agrosystems belong to the biosphere as well as the anthroposphere. They serve not only as significant sources of energy and matter, but also as sinks for many residual fluxes. Soils are vital constituents of agrosystems. Important functions include habitat protection for flora and fauna, contribution to global nutrient cycling, the bearing function, the filtering or buffer function, and others. Soil quality especially influences the quality of groundwater, which may serve as a resource for drinking water or as surface water recharge (de Haan 1996; Blum 1990; Harris et al 1996). One aspect of soil quality is the accumulation of heavy metals in soil. An analysis of the input and output fluxes of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn in agriculture and of their resulting accumulation in agricultural soils is necessary to ensure sustainable management of these metals in agricultural systems. Agrosystems may be viewed as ‘domesticated ecosystems’ intermediate between natural ecosystems (such as wild forest) and fabricated systems (for example, a city). Both agrosystems and natural ecosystems are solar-powered and are composed of primary producers, consumers and decomposers. Agrosystems differ from natural systems in that they use manufactured products, including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and hybrid seeds, as well as fossil fuels, while species diversity is greatly reduced by human management to optimize yields of desired products. The dominant plants and animals are under artificial rather than natural selection, and control is external to the system rather than via feedback and self-regulation as in...

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