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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Wheatgrass Response to Organic Amendments and Contour Furrowing on Coal Mine Spoil1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 13 No. 3, p. 479-482
    Received: May 4, 1983

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  1. David G. Scholl and
  2. Charles P. Pase2



Establishment of perennial grasses on New Mexico's coal mine spoils is difficult because of the arid climate and saline or sodic spoils. Topsoiling alone may not be sufficient to establish the most productive grass stands. Treatments such as organic amendments or contour furrowing could be useful in establishing grass stands.

The growth response of several wheatgrasses (Agropyron sp.) was tested on sodic and nonsodic coal spoils following amendments with pine bark (Pinus sp.) and barley straw (Hordeum vulgare L.). Bark and straw were incorporated into the spoil using a large disk harrow. Contour furrowing was also tested in combination with the amendments. Furrows were produced with the same disk harrow with alternate disk blades removed from the rear axles.

Plant height and production were increased by the amendments, and to a lesser extent, by the contour furrowing. Production was greatest on the nonsodic spoils. Incorporation of straw into nonsodic spoil produced outstanding growth, which exceeded production on topsoiled areas.

Soil bulk density was significantly reduced after incorporation of straw into nonsodic spoil and pine bark into sodic spoil. The straw and pine bark treatments in general improved soil water content at the end of the growing season. Contour furrowing in combination with pine bark produced higher water contents in 1 of the 2 yr.

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