Orange peel (OP), the main residue of the citrus industry, is usually used for animal feeding and soil fertilisation if more advanced options are lacking. In areas with warm and dry climatic conditions, OP is land-spread for solar-drying on the fields, the leachate produced is a potential pollution factor for soil especially due to the release of organic matter; heavy rainfalls could even aggravate the hazard. Since literature does not report any quantitative evaluation of this risk, this study presents three OP drainage tests in lysimeters, where OP was left releasing leachate on a soil layer. A first test was carried out on raw OP naturally draining, while, in a second and a third test, a rainfall of 100 mm was applied on already drained and solar-dried OP, respectively. After drainage, raw OP reduced its initial volume by about 90% and the leachate production accounted only for about 20% of the initial volume. The simulated rainfall produced even lower volumes of leachate (2–3% of the initial biomass volume), in spite of the high rainfall volume and long drainage time after its application. The COD concentration in the leachate from the raw OP was significantly higher than those produced after simulated rainfall. However, the COD amount released to the soil was negligible. The lysimetric tests showed that the release of leachate occurs mainly during the first phase of drainage and that rainfall is absorbed and does not produce significant leaching. Overall, the risk of soil pollution due to the natural drainage of OP is negligible, due to both limited amounts of leachate and organic loading.
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