Science of the Total Environment vol:443 pages:470-477
Copper (Cu) containing fungicides have been used for more than one century in Europe on agricultural soils, such as vineyard soils. Total Cu concentrations in such soils can exceed toxicological limits that are commonly derived using artificially spiked soils. This study surveyed Cu toxicity in vineyard soils with reference to soils spiked with CuCl2. Soil was collected in six established European vineyards. At each site, samples representing a Cu concentration gradient were collected. A control (uncontaminated) soil sampled nearby the vineyard was spiked with CuCl2. Toxicity was tested using standard ecotoxicity tests: two plant assays (Lycopersicon esculentum Miller (tomato) and Hordeum vulgare L. (barley) growth), one microbial assay (nitrification) and one invertebrate assay (Enchytraeus albidus reproduction). Maximal total Cu concentrations in the vineyard sites ranged 435-690 mg Cu kg-1, well above the local background (23-105 mg Cu kg-1). Toxicity in spiked soils (50% inhibition) was observed at added soil Cu concentrations from 190 to 1039 mg Cu kg-1 (mean 540 mg Cu kg-1) depending on the assay and the site. In contrast, significant adverse effects were only found for three bioassays in vineyard samples of one site and for two bioassays in another site. Biological responses in these cases were more importantly explained by other soil properties than soil Cu. Overall, no Cu toxicity to plants, microbial processes and invertebrates was observed in vineyard soil samples at Cu concentrations well above European Union limits protecting the soil ecosystem.