Corms of saffron were sown under ambient field conditions in selected plots in September 2004 at a distance of about 1 and 2 kmon the southern side of the Khrew cement factory located in district Pulwama experiencing a dust fall of about 2.08 and 1.19 gm
, respectively. The study carried out for two consecutive growth years (2004–2005 and 2005–2006), each year for a period of 7 months (September–March) has revealed that cement dust affected plants showed a consistent reduction in the photosynthetic pigments, NPK, carbohydrate, ascorbic acid contents as well as phytomass and length of leaves at both the sites. However, proline contents of the foliage exhibited increased levels in the same environmental set-up. The results also showed that various morphological characters of the flowers, viz. size of perianth, length and biomass of the pistil and stigma (saffron of commerce) as well as the whole flower suffered significantly greater reductions under the impact of cement dust pollution. The yield of saffron (kg ha
) also suffered greater losses in the second year (ranging 17.77–21.11%) compared to the first year (ranging 14.70–17.64%), and the losses were related to the amount of dust fall and distance from the factory. Crocin content of the stigma did not exhibit any change due to cement dust pollution. The analysis of the soil has revealed that except available Nall other parameters, viz. pH, Ec, available P and K, exchangeable Ca and Mg, as well as Fe and Al, recorded higher values in the polluted soils compared to control.
The present paper evaluates the results of field experiments conducted during two consecutive growth seasons (2008–2009) to assess the environmental impact of cement dust pollution on foliar physiology (pigments), growth performance and yield of three commonly cultivated vegetable crops, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), radish (Raphanus sativus) and knol-khol (Brassica oleracea var. gongyloides) in Kashmir Himalayan valley, India. Two experimental sites (S1, S2) were selected in the vicinity of the cement factory at Khrew, Pulwama (Kashmir) at a distance of 0.5 km (S1) and 2 km (S2) and compared with a dust free control site (S3) located at about 6 km from the factory in a crosswind direction. The data revealed that cement dust had an adverse effect on morphological and biochemical characteristics of the crops. Differential level of crop sensitivity to cement dust was markedly evident. Knol-khol (Brassica oleracea var. gongyloides) reflected a higher degree of tolerance to particulate emissions as compared to tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) and radish (Raphanus sativus). Photosynthetic pigment analysis showed adverse impact on chlorophyll-a, while chlorophyll-b marginally decreased in the leaves of tomato plants at S1; the effect being non-significant for the other test crops. Carotenoids also exhibited a remarkable reduction due to cement dust impact. The yield of tomato recorded severe losses (12.28–23.95%) as compared to radish (7.46–21.4%), while the effect was non-significant in knol-khol. Other growth and yield related attributes also followed a similar trend; tomato and radish showing remarkable effects in response to cement dust and knol-khol showed the least effect. The soil characteristics indicated significant reduction in available P. Except available N, other variables (pH, conductivity, available K, exchangeable Ca and Mg) recorded higher values in the polluted soils as compared to control. The need for installation of appropriate devices in cement manufacturing factories to combat the emission of dust in ambient environment together with environmental monitoring of agro-ecosystems is stressed.
A study carried out to assess the impact of particulate pollution on some selected fruit trees of Kashmir valley, viz., Malus × domestica Borkh. var. ‘American Apirouge’, Malus × domestica Borkh. var. ‘White Dotted Red’, Pyrus communis L. var. ‘Bartlett’, Prunus dulcis Mill. var. ‘Local’ growing under ambient field conditions around a cement kiln has shown that foliar photosynthetic pigments (chlorophyll-a, -b, total chlorophyll, chlorophyll-a/b ratio and carotenoids), N, P, carbohydrate as well as ascorbic acid contents exhibited a severe decline under pollution stress. However, K and proline contents of the foliage exhibited increased levels in the same environmental set-up. The results also show that various fruit morphological characters (viz., fruit length, diameter and firmness), as well as other characteristics like total soluble solids, total sugars, ascorbic acid and acidity of the pome fruits suffered significantly greater reductions under the impact of cement dust pollution. Similarly, in nut fruit Prunus dulcis the average weight of the nut and kernel, % shelling, moisture, protein, carbohydrate, ash and fat content also suffered severe losses under pollution stress. The yield of fruits (tons ha-1) also suffered greater losses, the maximum being observed in P. × communis var. ‘Bartlett’ (40%) followed by P. dulcis var. ‘Local’ (28.57%), M. × domestica var. ‘American Apirouge’ (18.51%) and least in M. × domestica var. ‘White Dotted Red’ (15%). The analysis of the soil has revealed that, except available N, all other parameters, viz., pH, Ec, available P and K, exchangeable Ca and Mg as well as Fe and Al recorded higher values in the polluted soil compared to control.