British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Maintenance fertilizer research at Kaiser Resources Ltd. Fyles, Jim W. 1979

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rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  325  MAINTENANCE FERTILIZER RESEARCH AT KAISER RESOURCES LTD.  Paper presented by:  J.W. Fyles Department of Biology University of Victoria  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  327  MAINTENANCE FERTILIZER RESEARCH AT KAISER RESOURCES LTD. INTRODUCTION Research into the use of maintenance fertilization in operational reclamation at Kaiser Resources Ltd. has, over the past few years, centered on the following questions.  What application rate should be used to obtain opti-  mum growth per kilogramme of fertilizer?  What combination of elements in  the fertilizer should be used to obtain best results?  How many years  should maintenance fertilization continue to ensure a self-sustaining cover of vegetation on reclaimed areas?  During 1978, fertilizer trials were  established on two sites near Sparwood to investigate the first two of these questions.  Phosphorus requirements were of specific interest because  of the high cost of phosphorus fertilizers in comparison to nitrogen fertilizer, which, because of its use in blasting operations, is readily available.  METHODS Two study sites were located on reclaimed areas which supported a high cover of vegetation.  Both sites had received maintenance fertilizer for  several years, with the latest application taking place several weeks before the initiation of the study.  The Harmer study area, at an elevation  of approximately 2,000 metres, and representative of many high elevation reclaimed sites, was dominated by Orchardgrass, Timothy and Creeping Red Fescue.  The Erickson study area (elevation 1,500 metres) was dominated by  Intermediate and Crested Wheatgrasses and Canada Bluegrass and is typical of many dry reclaimed areas at low elevation. Four levels each of urea and treble superphosphate yielded sixteen treatments which were randomly arrayed in treatment blocks prior to on—site layout.  Three replicate blocks were established on each site.  of each treatment are given in Table 1. site are given in Figures 1 and 2.  The details  Block and treatment layout at each  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  328  TABLE 1 FERTILIZER TREATMENTS  Treatment No.  N  P 20 5  Kilogram/hectare  46-0-0  0-45-0  Kilogram/hectare  1  0  0  0  0  2 3 4  28 56 112  0 0 0  61 122 243  0 0 0  5 6 7 8  0 28 56 112  56 56 56 56  0 61 122 243  124 124 124 124  9 10 11 12  0 28 56 112  112 112 112 112  0 61 122 243  248 248 148 248  13 14 15 16  0 28 56 112  224 224 224 224  0 61 122 234  496 496 496 496  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  329  page blank in original Proceedings  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  330  Treatments were evaluated in late August according to the dry weight of aerial biomass clipped from 50 centimetre square frames. clipped from each treatment.  Two samples were  The data were analysed using standard  Analysis of Variance methods to evaluate the effect of nitrogen and phosphorus levels (fixed treatments) and site differences reflected in the three replicate blocks (random treatment).  In all analyses, significance  was tested using an alpha level of 0.05.  RESULTS The results of the analysis of the data obtained from the Erickson trials are given in Table 2.  Since all of the probabilities derived are greater  than 0.05 it can be concluded that none of the factors tested had a significant effect on growth.  This conclusion is somewhat surprising  because of the general belief that reclaimed areas are very nutrient deficient and require fertilization to support growth. can, however, be explained in two ways.  The observed results  Firstly, it is possible that,  through previous maintenance fertilization and the residual effects of nutrient additions, the soil nutrient status has been raised to such a level as to be non-limiting to growth.  This does not seem to be a reaso-  nable explanation, however, since fertilization of even highly fertile agricultural soils will produce increased crop production and it is unlikely that the soils of the study site would have higher fertility.  A more  plausible explanation would be that although the nutrient levels in the soil are low, it may be the lack of moisture on the site which is the limiting factor.  This is the most likely explanation of the observed  results even though the summer of 1978 was not particularly dry.  In any  case, it is apparent that fertilization of dry, low elevation sites does not produce the desired results of increasing vegetative production and is therefore not a viable investment of reclamation dollars. The results of the analysis of data from the Harmer site are given in Table 3. cant.  In this analysis two of the sources of variation proved signifi-  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  331  TABLE 2 ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE OF ERICKSON FERTILIZER DATA SOURCE  DP  F  P  N  3  0.26  0.85  P  3  1.82  0.24  REP  2  0.64  0.53  N*P  9  1.92  0.11  N*REP  6  1.77  0.13  P*REP  6  0.64  0.70  18  0.72  0.77  N*P*REP  % VAR  TABLE 3  ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE OF HARMER FERTILIZER DATA SOURCE  DF  F  P  N  3  2.30  0.177  P  3  2.87  0.162  REP  2  8.40  0.001  N*P  9  1.29  0.306  N*REP  6  1.72  0.134  P*REP  6  2.19  0.060  18  5.69  0.000  N*P*REP  % VAR  5.770  35.182  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  332  The differences between replicate blocks (REP) accounted for almost six per cent of the variation while the three way interaction between nitrogen and phosphorus levels and replicate block accounted for approximately thirty-five per cent of the variation.  These data suggest that the soil condition varied  greatly among replicate blocks.  To eliminate this variation and to gain a  better understanding of the three way interaction the data from each replicate block were analysed separately as shown in Table 4.  From these  results it can be seen that both nitrogen and phosphorus had a significant influence on growth but that the effect varied from one replicate to the next.  In Replicate 1, the levels of both nutrients and their interaction  were significant while in Replicate 2, phosphorus was non-significant and in Replicate 3 nitrogen was non-significant.  CONCLUSIONS In relation to the original objectives of the study, therefore, it can be concluded that, in most areas, phosphorus is a required fertilizer component. Unfortunately, further analysis could not determine the optimum application rate of either nutrient.  Because of their inconclusive nature, these  analyses have not been included in this paper. Perhaps the most important conclusion to be drawn from the analysis of the Harmer data is in regard to the high variability in the soils of the study site.  Bearing in mind that the blocks were placed less than three metres  apart, this gross variation has significant ramifications toward present research and management practices. that an  At the outset of the study it was hoped  overall fertilization strategy could be devised for application to  all elevation sites.  In reality, however, a different strategy would be  required to satisfy the requirement of each replicate block. When extended to include the numerous hectares of reclaimed areas it becomes obvious, than an accurate, overall fertilization strategy is an impossibility.  Instead, it  appears that the best approach may well be the present "seat of the pants" method in which a complete fertilizer is  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  333  TABLE 4 ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE OF HARMER FERTILIZER DATA BY REPLICATE  SOURCE  DF  F  J  % VAR  REP 1  N P N*P  3 3 9  6.29 5.52 4.74  0.005 0.009 0.003  20.055 17.600 45.327  REP 2  N P N*P  3 3 9  4.35 1.22 3.63  0.020 0.336 0.012  19.961  N P N*P  3 3 9  0.19 4.41 8.83  0.905 0.019 0.000  REP 3  49.998  12.109 72.740  rd  Proceedings of the 3 Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1979. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  334  applied at some arbitrary rate with repeated application when necessary.  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Kaiser Resources Ltd. wishes to gratefully acknowledge the Cominco LCd. for supplying the fertilizer and experimental design for this study.  

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