Reclamation influence and background geochemistry of neutral saline soils in the Po River Delta Plain (Northern Italy)

Dario Di Giuseppe*, Barbara Faccini, Micòl Mastrocicco, Nicolò Colombani, Massimo Coltorti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Reclaimed neutral saline sulphate soils constitute a large part of the eastern part of Po Plain lowlands, where intensive agricultural activities take place. The knowledge of their geochemical features is essential to develop the best management practices capable to preserve this threatened environment. With this aim, three boreholes were drilled in an agricultural field and a typical reclaimed soil profile has been characterized for major and trace element, pH, electrical conductivity, redox conditions and water-soluble anions and ammonium. Statistical analysis (cluster analysis and principal component analysis) has been used to understand the relationship between elements and grain size. The soil profile is characterized by high salinity and high organic matter contents responsible for high chloride, sulphate, and ammonium concentrations. Heavy metal content is naturally high, since Po Plain sediments are the result of ultramafic rocks erosion; in addition, organic matter tends to concentrate heavy metals by adsorption, mainly in peaty horizons. As a consequence of chemical and zootechnical fertilization, high NO3 contents have been found in the top soil, thus enhancing the risk of nitrate discharge in the water system, especially in relation to extreme climatic events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2457-2473
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • Geochemistry
  • PCA
  • Reclaim
  • Redox
  • Soil


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