Feasibility of urban waste for constructing Technosols for plant growth
An alternative for sustainable urban development is to revegetate cities with the construction of planters as well as to recover degraded sites. The objective of this work was to characterize urban waste materials produced in Mexico City and to evaluate their potential for constructing Technosols for plant growth, as an alternative to use in revegetating the city without affecting natural landscapes. Construction and demolition waste materials amended with different application rates of compost made out of gardening wastes from Mexico City green areas were tested. Nine mixtures were prepared; three based on concrete, three based on demolition waste and three based on excavation waste. Changes on physical, chemical and physicochemical properties of these mixtures, namely nutrient contents, water retention and aeration capacity, were monitored in a twelve-month experiment. The mineralogy and the risk regarding the release of heavy metals and trace elements were also evaluated in the soluble fraction. The constructed Technosols were appropriate, to a greater or lesser extent, for tomato plant growth. Soil pH and soil electrical conductivity (EC) were the main factors defining their suitability; both parameters changed over time due to the washing of salts. The particle size of the mineral materials as well as the application rates of compost used in the construction of the Technosols resulted in adequate water holding capacity and soil aeration for plant growth. The type of parental materials defined the majority of the Technosol characteristics as well as their ability to function as a plant support. The concentrations of readily available heavy and trace metals were not a limitation for plant growth. However, potential co-transport of these elements with soluble organic matter should be considered in further research.