Soil contamination through oil spillage accumulates in the soil and affect plant growth. The study was conducted to examine the effect of spilled engine oil on soil nutrients and germination of seed in the in the Central region of Ghana. Ten samples were collected randomly from selected mechanic and fitting sites in the Elmina municipality. A randomized complete block design using three test crops was used to evaluate soil quality indicators such as N, P, K and soil pH on the polluted soil using standard methods. Maize recorded 3.67, 18.5 and 3.7% germination in contaminated soils from Aponkyedasoro, Nippon and Afitafum, respectively. Cowpea and sorghum recorded no germination in these soils. The three crops showed higher germination rates in the control soils, with the highest being recorded in sorghum (72.2%), followed by cowpea (70.4%) with the least being recorded in maize (66.6%). The results showed that nitrogen (N) level in the experimental soil was very low (0.065-0.075%) as compared to the control (0.115%) in this study. However, polluted soil from Aponkyedasoro, Afitafum and Nippon recorded a higher level of phosphorus (60.84-31.58 µg/g) and potassium (0.52-0.58 µg/g) than control (P=20.97 µg/g; K=0.43 µg/g) despite having a low germination rate. Copper, zinc, sodium and iron concentration were higher in the engine oil-polluted soil. The study revealed that the concentration of heavy metals and spilled engine oil in the soil has a higher effect on plant development; hence, public awareness should be created of its detrimental effect on the ecosystem.
Key words: Contamination, germination, heavy metals, soil fertility.
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