Foto del docente

Alessandro Buscaroli

Assistant professor

Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences

Academic discipline: AGR/14 Pedology

Research

Keywords: Soil quality Soil salinity Heavy metals Bioremediation Biochar

(Updated December 2019)

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

The research activity is addressed to the study of soils in different environmental contexts and to the effects that climate change and different forms of use can have on them. In this context, the study of soils in coastal environments, characterized by subsidence, submersion and saline intrusion phenomena, is particularly relevant (Wassents).

Part of the activities is aimed at studying the potentially toxic elements present in soils, in the different forms, total, pseudo-total and bioavailable. Linked to this field of research is the study of plant species with phytostabilizing or phytoextractive capacity, which can be used for phytoremediation interventions.

A further field of research concerns the study and characterization of biomass, including digestates and biochar, which can be reused in agriculture as non-synthetic fertilizers and their contribution to an increase in organic carbon stocks in soils to combat climate change. These activities are linked to the use of forecast models on carbon stock changes in soils as a result of different management strategies.

 

The research interests concern:

- Investigations and characterization of soils in different environmental contexts.

- Study of total, pseudo total and bioavailable contents of soil elements in relation to contamination phenomena.

- Study on the phytostabilization and phytoextractive capacity of herbaceous species for use in land reclamation interventions (phytoremediation).

- Study of soils in coastal environments in relation to salinisation and submersion processes (Wassents).

- Influence of salt wedge intrusion on soil characteristics and crop productivity.

- Role of soil in the dispersion of pollutants in life cycle assessment (LCA) analysis.

- Study of carbon stock variations in soils in relation to different management strategies.

- Characterization of digestates and biochars derived from different biomasses for their use in agriculture.

- Use of GIS in environmental and territorial analysis.

 

Soil surveys and characterization in different environmental contexts

In this respect, soil surveys are carried out, in natural, agricultural and industrial contexts, in order to characterize the soils.

Study of the total, pseudo total and bioavailable contents of soil elements in relation to contamination phenomena

Heavy metals in soils derive from both the natural characteristics of the substrate and/or from human actions. In addition to the total aliquots, useful for lithological characterization, and the pseudo-total aliquots, useful for regulatory verification, it is important to quantify the bioavailable aliquots, capable of determining relapses in the food chain.

Study on the phytostabilization and phytoextraction capacity of herbaceous species for use in reclamation interventions (phytoremediation)

Some herbaceous species are able to live in heavily contaminated environments and accumulate heavy metals within their tissues. For this reason, these plants can be useful in phytostabilization and phytoextraction interventions in highly compromised environments, such as areas affected by mining activity.

Influence of salt wedge intrusion on soil characteristics and crop productivity

Marine waters can contaminate groundwater, leading to salinization of aquifers and consequently to possible salinization of soils. This phenomenon has different proportions depending on the characteristics of the hydrological system and the pedotypes involved, as well as a marked temporal variability. Ultimately, soil salinization can have a profound impact on crop productivity.

Study of soils in coastal environments in relation to salinisation and submersion processes (Wassents)

The coastal areas of Emilia-Romagna include pinewood areas of high natural value that are in a state of suffering and degradation, largely related to the concomitant action of natural factors (subsidence, salinization, etc.) and anthropogenic factors (groundwater use, water level management, plantings, etc.). All these causes strongly influence the characteristics of the soils that must be studied to preserve both the soils and forests. Among other aspects, it is important to define the relationship between groundwater (characteristics and depths) and soil characteristics. In addition, the study of coastal dunes is important for the protection they provide in relation to inland territories.

Study of carbon stock variations in soils in relation to different management strategies

Soils can store carbon and thus help to counteract the increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. Cultivation practices have a strong impact on the soil carbon stock and, through suitable models (e.g. RothC), it is possible to assess its long-term variations and identify actions more consistent with the objectives of an increase in soil carbon.

Characterization of digestates and biochar derived from different biomasses for their use in agriculture.

This activity is carried out within the CIRI-EA and aims at characterizing the different raw materials to assess the possibility of obtaining non-synthetic fertilizers to be used in agriculture. Depending on the nature of the starting biomass and the process conditions it is possible to obtain non-synthetic fertilizers with distinctive characteristics.

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