Fertiliser contaminants in New Zealand grazed pasture with special reference to cadmium and fluorine: A review

P. Loganathan, M. J. Hedley, N. D. Grace, J. Lee, S. J. Cronin, N. S. Bolan, J. M. Zanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphorus (P) fertilisers are an essential input for the economic production of legume-based pastures in New Zealand (NZ) and Australia, but they often contain some unwanted elements that can contaminate the soil, thereby creating potential risks to the health of grazing animal, food quality, and soil quality. Fluorine (F) and cadmium (Cd) are considered to be the elements of most concern. Incidences of F toxicity (from direct ingestion of fertiliser), and accumulation of Cd in offal products above the maximum permissible concentration (MPC) set by the food authorities, have been reported in NZ. Similarly, Cd concentrations in some food grains may exceed the newly proposed MPCs by the Australian and New Zealand Food Authority. Cadmium and F continue to accumulate in the topsoils of NZ and Australian pastures as a result of P fertiliser use. The mobility of both these elements in soils is low and is similar to that of P. Risk of ground water contamination from F and Cd applied to most NZ pastures is low. The plant uptake of these elements, especially F, is also low in most pastoral soils. Cadmium accumulates mainly in liver and kidney of grazing animals mostly through herbage ingestion, whereas F accumulates mainly in the bones of these animals, mostly through soil ingestion. Soil ingestion is highest during the wetter winter months and at high stocking rates. Models have been developed to assess the impact of fertiliser use on the potential risks associated with F and Cd accumulation in soils. Measures to control F and Cd accumulation in soils, plants, and grazing animals are presented and future research needs are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-532
Number of pages32
JournalAustralian Journal of Soil Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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