Assessing the feasibility of using a closed landfill for agricultural graze land

Hanna R. Hard, Mark Brusseau, Mónica Ramirez-Andreotta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Once landfills are closed and maintained according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s standards and regulations, they are potential sites for revitalization efforts, particularly via agricultural activities. This project was commissioned by the City of Tucson Environmental Services Department as part of an effort to explore ways to reuse one or more of the 16 landfills the department manages in the Tucson metropolitan area. The objective of this project was to assess the feasibility of using a closed landfill to support safe goat browsing. A site history and investigation was conducted at the Harrison Landfill in Tucson, Arizona, to characterize the soil quality and uptake of deleterious metals by the following plants observed at the landfill: Pennisetum ciliare (buffel grass), Baccharis sarothroides (desert broom), Salsola tragus L. (Russian thistle), Larrea tridentata (creosote), Tamarix ramosissima (salt cedar), and Atriplex canescens (fourwing saltbush). Site characterization data were combined with known goat browsing and plant consumption patterns to determine exposure risks. It was observed that soil concentrations of metals (Al, Ag, As, Be, Ba, Fe, Co, Cu, Cr, Cd, Fe, Mn, Ni, V, Se, Mo, Sn, Sb, Pb) did not exceed Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s soil remediation levels. Tamarix ramosissima, Baccharis salicifolia (willow baccharis), Pennisetum ciliare, Salsola tragus L., Baccharis sarothroides, Larrea tridentata, and Atriplex canescens contained metal concentrations that fell well within maximum tolerable levels. In general, this project determined that after soil and plant assessment, urban, arid landfills may be used effectively for economic development through agricultural grazing ventures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number458
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Arid landfill
  • Goats
  • Landfill repurposing
  • Metal toxicity
  • Open grazing
  • Redevelopment
  • Urban agriculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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