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The theoretical basics development of soil fertility restoration and soil-ecological functions of agricultural landscapes, contaminated with radionuclides and heavy metals.


The theoretical basics development of soil fertility restoration and soil-ecological functions of agricultural landscapes, contaminated with radionuclides and heavy metals.

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-OTH/Other/Environment
  • AGR-OTH/Other/Agriculture

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
U.U.Uspanov Kazakh Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry, Kazakstan, Almaty

Supporting institutes

  • Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kazakstan, Astana


  • University of Palermo, Italy, Palermo

Project summary

Project aim: To develop theoretical basics of soil fertility restoration and soil-ecological functions of agricultural landscapes, contaminated with radionuclides and heavy metals. Current situation in research area. This project was initiated by the International Antinuclear Movement (IAM) “Nevada-Semipalatinsk”. From the O. Suleimenov (famous writer, leader of “Nevada-Semipalatinsk” movement) speech: “From the ancient and new history we know that not every country leader’s action determined by the agreement of leader’s personal interest and people’s needs. However we had that experience, before getting independence N. Nazarbayev made decree to close Semipalatinsk nuclear test siteon 29th of August 1991. This decree is a great document of new country”.

The initial aim of “Nevada-Semipalatinsk” movement was – to close not only Semipalatinsk nuclear test site but all test site in the world. In January 1991 initiated by the Kazakhstan the Global Anti-Nuclear alliance was found. The Global Anti-Nuclear congress was held in Almaty in August 1993. Starting from 5th August 1999 Kazakhstan became member of Disarmament Conference in Geneva, it was recognition of significant contribution of the Kazakhstan in reinforcement of global and regional security. The infrastructure of the nuclear test base was fully eliminated, more than thousand nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles were either destroyed or removed from the country. In 2006 Kazakhstan was one of the founders of Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. During the 66th UN General Assembly, the head of the country proposed to start development of the Universal Declaration of Nuclear-free World.

In October 2011 the international forum “For a Nuclear-Free World” was held in Astana.
From interview with “Nevada-Semipalatinsk” vice-president E.L. Zuslina: “Currently the radio-ecological situation in our country is critical. Underground nuclear explosions were carried out not only at Semipalatinsk test site, but also in other regions of the country,ostensibly for national economic goals. In West-Kazakhstan region (area “Region” and “Lira” – explosions), test site “Kapustin-Yar” (40 explosions, 11 of them were on the surface), in Atyrau region (17 explosions on salt locations) in Aktyubinsk region (area “Batolit-2” 1 explosion), in Mangystau region (area “Sai Utes” – 3 explosions) in South-Kazakhstan region (area “Meridian 3” 1 explosion), in Kostanay region (area “Region” – 5 explosions). Most explosions were underground resulting in underground reservoirs which will eventually compress. Ground waters dissolve residual products of explosion. Then radioactive ground water tends to come outthough the wells. Hence you have uncontrolled disposal of radioactive waste.”
The project participant’s competence in this area. People that were involved in the project have extensive professional experience. Authors of current project have done research at the Karachaganak field during 90th of the last century. The processes of natural overgrowing of used, disturbed and contaminated lands. Over the past decade researches have been conducted in ecologically critical areas of Kazakhstan that are oil contaminated (West-Kazakhstan and Kyzyl-Orda region), degraded, decertified lands of east part of Aral sea, mining regions (Zhambyl and East-Kazakhstan regions). The disturbed land biological reclamations were made since 1976 (experimental field studies were realizedon the instructions of SCST USSR on disturbed lands while loess loam mining for manufacture of construction materials in brick and cement factories’ carrier, city of Shymkent.). There are developed recommendations (1988). In 1979 works were conducted on biological reclamation of industrial waste discharge and mining deposits of Zyryanovsk and Tishinka (East Kazakhstan region). Experiments were carried out on phototoxic dumps of Tishinsk deposit with shielding of dumps with various substrates. Results of experimental field studies were used in recommendations for dumps of Leninogorsk poly-metallic combine. Almaty 1985 p. 26. As well as for recommendations for dumps of Zyryanovsk lead combine, Almaty 1985 p. 31. , which were used in Ministry of non-ferrous Metallurgy of Kazakh SSR later. During 2009-14, reclamation works were conducted in the Karatau basin of phosphate deposits. In East Kazakhstan region starting from 2013 to 2015 researches have been made on impact of mining and metals enterprises on environment, soil-reclamative and biological methods of reclamation of contaminated landscapes.
Expected results and applications. Contaminated areas of soil and vegetation cover with defining the qualitative and quantitative content of radionuclides and heavy metal in soil and plants of the areas affected by nuclear testing. Basic soil parameters (physical, hydro-physical, physical-chemical, chemical and agrochemical) will be determined. Biological qualities of soil polluted by radionuclides and heavy metals elements will be defined (qualitative and quantitative structure of soil microbial-zoocenoses). Particular qualities of soil-ecological functions in terms of soil contamination and in comparison with control non-contaminated territories. Soil and vegetation cover of areas that are affected by nuclear tests will be mapped according to the level of contamination with radionuclides and heavy metal elements. Theoretical basics for further phase of biotechnological methods of reclamation of contaminated soil with radionuclides and heavy metal elements, in order to improve soil fertility and soil-ecological functions of agricultural landscapes.
Theoretical basics and modern maps of level of contamination will be used on practice for reclamation works to restore the soil fertility and soil-ecological functions of agricultural landscapes in the areas affected by nuclear tests. The data on level of pollution of agricultural landscapes will allow differentiated use of soil resources in agricultural complex. Resulting data of pollution (displayed on a modern maps) will be used as informative material in different areas: medicine, agriculture, environmental, education as well as for the people of areas affected by the nuclear tests.
Volume of work. Expedition works will be carried out in 7 regions of Kazakhstan (West Kazakhstan region, Atyrau region, Mangystau region, Aktyubinsk region, Kostanay region, East Kazakhstan region, South Kazakhstan region). At all objects of route research,soil profile cuts will be build up, with description of morphogenetic properties of soil horizons and soil-testing studies of basic soil parameters. Field soil moisture and specific weight on the horizon of soil profiles will be determined. The depth (0-10cm, 10-20cm) of the soil environment will be tested for temperature. Soil and plant sample will be selected to determine the quality and quantity of radionuclides and heavy metal elements. Selected soil samples will be determined for microbial and soil zoo fauna with further defining its qualitative and quantitative structure in laboratory environment. Preparation of soil samples for laboratory tests will be done (soil samples drying and soil breakage, dry sieving). Soil structure will be defined (grain size measurement, microaggregation analysis, humus, carbonates, absorbed bases, soil-water extract, pH of soil environment, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium - gross and mobile forms, microelements and radioactive isotopes). Preparation of plant samples for laboratory tests will be conducted: drying, grinding, weighing, ashing in muffle furnace and further definition of trace-elements and isotopic structure, spectrometric measurements and radiochemical analysis.
Technical approach and methodology.The project provides an integrated, interrelated, and interdependent ecosystem approach. During investigation several methods will be used: geographical, expeditionary routing, comparative, soil, soil-microbiological, soil-zoological laboratory tests, nuclear-physical (neutron-activation, X ray fluorescent), gamma spectrometry and radio-chemical.