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Agricultural soils normally contain low background levels of heavy metals. Contamination from industrial activities or byproducts can increase the natural levels of heavy metals in soil, creating a health hazard to people, livestock and plants. Fertilizers and other soil amendments also add small amounts of heavy metals to the soil, which can build up over time with repeated applications. This fact sheet shows the aggregated results of thousands of UVM heavy metal soil tests from across many soil types and management practices on farms and gardens in Vermont, and discusses best management practices for soils with elevated levels of heavy metals, especially lead.

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