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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Early Stages of Mine Soil Genesis as Affected by Topsoiling and Organic Amendments


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 52 No. 3, p. 730-738
    Received: Feb 19, 1987

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. J. A. Roberts,
  2. W. L. Daniels ,
  3. J. A. Burger and
  4. J. C. Bell
  1. Virginia Council on the Environment, 903 Ninth St. Office Bldg., Richmond, VA 23219
    Dep. of Agronomy, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA 24061
    Dep. of Agronomy, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA 16802



Topsoil substitutes offer alternative reclamation options in many surface mining regions, particularly where native topsoil materials are of poor quality. The objective of this study was to measure effects of various amendments on mine soil properties and the early stages of pedogenesis. Treatments applied to 2:1 sandstone/siltstone spoil mixtures were inorganic fertilizer (control): 112 Mg ha−1 sawdust: 30 cm of local topsoil: and 22, 56, 112, or 224 Mg ha−1 of municipal sewage sludge. Morphologically distinct A horizons and transitional AC and C1 horizons developed in all pedons between 1982 and 1985, primarily due to plant rooting. The depth and nature of transitional AC and C1 horizons was strongly influenced by organic additions. Water availability after 3 yr was enhanced by sawdust applications. Mine soil pH decreased over time as basic cations leached, but sludge additions moderated the rate of decline. Organic C accumulation rates ranged from 700 to 1500 kg C ha−1 yr−1 and were accelerated by sludge additions. Soil total N generally increased as well, and both C and N accumulations were associated with A horizon formation. Extractable Fe increased significantly in the surface of all treatments over time. Sludge additions dominated mine soil chemistry for multiple seasons. Total cation exchange capacity (CEC) was greatly increased by sludge additions, but decreased significantly over time due to leaching of Ca and Mg. Changes in soil chemical and physical properties reflect rapid pedogenesis and effects of organic matter additions to mine soils. Organically amended spoils can equal or surpass native topsoil materials in forgage productivity.

Contribution of Dep. of Agronomy, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA. This research was supported by the Powell River Project and the USDI Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement under contract no. J5140102.

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