British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposia

Use of agronomic species in mine reclamation 2010

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Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation USE OF AGRONOMIC SPECIES IN MINE RECLAMATION Paper presented by Angus S. Richardson, P.Ag. General Manager Richardson Seed Company Limited Burnaby, British Columbia         219 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation USE OF AGRONOMIC SPECIES IN MINE RECLAMATION INTRODUCTION Agronomic is the nomenclature given to plant species that, over time, have become domesticated native species; therefore, the term distin- guishes a plant from a current native plant. For this discussion I have included all commercially harvested seed crops of grasses and legume species.  The purpose of establishing grass and legumes on a reclamation site is: - to revegetate a disturbed area, - to provide forage for native or domestic animals, - to provide surface erosion control, - to provide esthetic satisfaction, and - to provide a cash crop for income where feasible. In the first four objectives a satisfactory ground cover is what is being sought, rather than an agricultural income from the forage. With the former in mind, we must concern ourselves with the choice of the agronomic species for seeding, since the choice is between: - the common seed types which have a wide genetic base, and - the selected seed variety with a narrower genetic base. The majority of plant breeders select varieties capable of providing high agricultural yield under good soil conditions. Such varieties often have high nutritional requirements and must be carefully selected for a specific situation. However, when disease threatens an area, or winter hardiness is a necessity, then varieties having these attributes can benefit the reclamation situation. 221 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation In British Columbia, common seed, which is closest in origin to the original native material, is used because it has the widest genetic base and is adaptable to variable soil types and climates. In selecting common seed it is important that the origin of the plant be known, in order to determine if the plant will adapt successfully to the area where it is to be sown. Recently, importations of wheatgrass and al- falfa from Argentina have been introduced into Canada, an origin that would not be suitable for use in British Columbia. THE CANADA SEEDS ACT This Federal Act, administered by the Plant Products Division of the Food and Marketing Branch, Agriculture Canada, describes the conditions under which all seeds can be sold. The Seeds Act specifies what in- formation must be provided to describe the seed, which must then be given to the buyer. By means of grade tables the Act specifies how clean the seed must be; how many weeds, if any, are allowed; and the minimum germination rate that a seed must have. Seed is thereby classified as Canada No. 1, Canada No. 2, or Canada No. 3. The Seeds Act also describes which species of grasses and legumes can be sold in Canada, and which varieties are licensed for sale in Canada. Many of the so-called "native species" of seed cannot be sold under the terms of the Seeds Act, and special permission for the use of such species must be obtained from Ottawa. PRINCIPLES OF SEED MIXTURE DESIGN Because soils are not always homogeneous and weather patterns do not repeat themselves consistently, there is a distinct advantage in using a seed mixture that has been blended to suit the variables of the site. The following considerations are applicable to seed mixture design: 222 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation - The seed must be adapted to the climate and soils of the area. - The   seed  must   be   adapted   to   the   end   use   of the   land   and   the desired longevity of the stand. - The mixture must be economically viable. - The mixture must be balanced: a. the plants  should be able  to withstand competition  from one another (bio-compatability), b. it is usually desirable to blend legumes with grasses, c. enough  seed  of each major  ingredient should  be  included to establish a stand if some species fail, d. the  formulation  expressed as a percentage of ingredients by weight,  must reflect  the  desired  percentage  of ingredients by   seed   count,   ie.   end   plant population.  See following example calculations: EXAMPLE:    End Plant Population Purity % (Weight) Seeds/Pound Seeds/Pound in Mix 25% Smooth Brome X 125,000 = 31,250 25% Canada Bluegrass X 2,500,000 = 625,000 25% Creeping Red Fescue X 600,000 = 150,000 10% Timothy X 1,300,000 = 130,000 5% Red Top X 5,000,000 = 250,000 10% White Clover X 800,000 = 80,000 1,266,250 e. consideration must be given in the formulation for the rate of establishment and germination of each kind of seed. SPECIE AVAILABILITY AND ADAPTATION Because agronomic species are principally used in agricultural situ- ations, adequate inventories are maintained and planned production as seed crops is undertaken, so there is seldom a serious shortage of seed. During certain years when drought prevails or bad weather is 223 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation experienced at harvest time, certain shortages can occur. If any rec- lamation user is concerned about seed availability, contract arrange- ments can be made with any seed merchant to produce his requirements to ensure a supply. Classification of species normally available, sub- classified as to their end adaptation, is given below: 1. Rapid Developing, Short-Lived Grasses Humid Areas:   Annual  Ryegrass (sometimes called Common or Italian) Westerwolds Ryegrass Dryland Areas: Slender Wheatgrass Tall Oatgrass 2. Rapid Developing, Long-Lived Grasses for Sub-Humid and Irrigated Areas Orchardgrass Tall  Fescue Perennial  Ryegrass Intermediate Wheatgrass    Smooth Bromegrass (Diploid and Tetra- ploid) 3. Drought Tolerant, Long-Lived Bunch Grasses Crested Wheatgrass     Bluebunch Wheatgrass   Big Bluegrass Slow to Establish Hard Fescue         Russian Wild Ryegrass  Tall Wheatgrass 4. Drought Tolerant, Long-Lived Sod Grasses Pubescent Wheatgrass   Streambank Wheatgrass      Canada Bluegrass Kentucky Bluegrass     Red Top Creeping Red Fescue 5. Saline and Alkali Tolerant Grasses Tall Wheatgrass       Streambank Wheatgrass  Slender Wheatgrass Crested Wheatgrass    Creeping Foxtail       Tall Fescue Russian Wild Ryegrass 6. Acid Tolerant Grasses Red Top Meadow Foxtail         Canada Bluegrass Red Fescue Colonial Bentgrass     Tall Fescue Creeping Bentgrass       Hard Fescue 224 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation 7. Dense Deep-Rooted Grasses Crested Wheatgrass       Intermediate         Hard Fescue Wheatgrass Orchardgrass Russian Wild Ryegrass 8. Dense Shallow-Rooted Grasses Red Top Kentucky Bluegrass    Creeping Red Fescue Canada Bluegrass          Creeping Bentgrass 9. Fine Leaved Multi-Purpose Grasses Kentucky Bluegrass       Creeping Red Fescue   Canada Bluegrass Chewings Fescue         Hard Fescue 10. Wet Land Grasses Meadow Foxtail   Timothy        Red Top     Reeds Canarygrass 11. Legumes Alfalfa        Alsike Clover   Sainfoin     Bird's-foot Trefoil Sweet Clovers        White Clovers   Red Clovers  Cicer Milk Vetch 12. Special Agronomics Bearded Wheatgrass Blue Wild Rye Mountain Brome Alaska Brome Basin Wild Rye Alkali Sacaton Siberian Wheatgrass Beardless Wheatgrass Harding Grass Thickspike Wheatgrass Big Bluegrass Upland Bluegrass SEED APPLICATION RATES The application rate for seed to be used in reclamation in British Columbia is determined by the following factors: - strength of establishment required, - seed bed preparation, - soil temperature (time of seeding), - soil moisture, - method of application, - ingredients in seed mixture, - companion crop. 225 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation As a rule of thumb In the dryer areas of the Province, less seed is used than in the moist areas. When agricultural equipment is used, a seeding rate of 30 - 75 Ib/acre is used. When hydro-seeding is the method of application, the seeding rate is usually increased by 25%. When seeding is carried out by aircraft, the seeding rate is increased by 50%. COATED SEED Coated seed, a relatively new product, is being promoted, therefore it warrants a few comments. Coated seed originated in New Zealand where much of the seeding on native ranges is done by aircraft. The ballistic weight of the coating material to the seed has benefit in this situation. When the seed is coated, the product becomes: In grasses: 50% of the weight is seed, 50% is coating material In legumes: 66% of the weight is seed, 34% is coating material The coating usually used for grasses is a lime based polymer with approximately 5% available nutrients. This means that when the entire product is applied at 50 lb/acre, 1-1/2 pounds of actual plant food is applied per acre. In legumes, the coating is usually a humus-lime mix containing the correct strain of rhizobia bacteria. The benefits of coated seed are as follows: - price per pound of the seed mixture is reduced, - the specific weight of the seed is increased, - there is marginal nutrient benefit, - the coated seed usually withstands deeper planting than raw seed. The disadvantages of coated seed are as follows: - in grasses, you only get half as many actual seeds per pound, compared to raw seed; 226 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation - coating usually reduces the germination of the seed; - costs per acre are much higher; - product is difficult to handle and, generally does not flow very easily; - coated seed is not as readily available as ordinary seed. During an initial trial period with coated seed, the Richardson Seed Company has supplied over 100,000 lbs. of the product to the industry, and generally, the feedback we have received has indicated disappoint- ing results. We are of the opinion that to achieve the most economical and satisfactory results, raw seed should be used wherever possible. Only in site-specific situations do we see a place for coated seed, such as the benefits of having the extra ballistic weight around the seed. SEED PRODUCTION British Columbia imports, either from the United States, or from other regions of Canada, most of the seed used within the Province. As in- dicated earlier, it is important that the origin of the seed to be used should be adaptable to B.C. conditions. Seed merchants aware of local agronomic conditions, comply accordingly. The following list shows the commonly used species, complete with their most common source of origin: LEGUMES Alfalfa: Idaho, Washington, Southern Alberta Alsike and S.C. Red Clovers: Peace River, Saskatchewan White Clover: B.C., Idaho, Oregon, New Zealand GRASSES Creeping Red Fescue: Peace River Wheatgrasses: Alberta, Saskatchewan, South and North Dakota, Montana Orchardgrass: Oregon, Southern Alberta Ryegrass: Oregon 227 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation Timothy: B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Minnesota Bluegrass: Washington Red Top: Mississippi, Poland, B.C., and the Prairies Provinces     228 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation DISCUSSIOM RELATED TO A. RICHAROSON’S PAPER Art Bomke - University of British Columbia: I've read somewhere that the coating of legume seeds with Time has a beneficial effect on the survival of rhizobium. It could be significant in the acidic materials we're trying to vegetate. Can you tell us something about that? Answer: I think the coating of legumes is generally more acceptable and more widely practised than is the coating of grasses. Of course, the legume seed is always coated to some degree with the rhizobia; but in what I call the "coating process", we get a definite coat containing the rhizobia around the seed. There are many people using the coated legume product. It was used extensively in Ontario last year, and it has also been used in California. I think that there may be some real benefits to coating legumes this way; but at the present time, the general concensus by farmers is that the coating is perhaps not giving them any greater benefits than they had before. The other interesting thing is the introduction of newer rhizobia strains that may allow us to get better innoculation of our legumes and consequently more nutritional benefits. Duane Johnson - Hardy Associates Ltd.: We tested coating winter seed in the Arctic and found there were many problems with fungal in- festation. I was wondering if you have had any experience with that? Answer: I, personally, have not. We have not worked in the Arctic and I have not heard of the problem of increased fungal attack. But we have had experience sowing the coated seed in the late fall of the year, just before the snow came in, and waiting for spring germination. In those instances we felt that we gained no benefit from the coated program. The idea basically was that it would be 229 Proceedings of the 4th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1980. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation our "pop up" fertilizer, if you will; but it seems that one needs our fertilizer program. I'm sure coated seed will be used to a much wider extent, and there may yet be benefits which we still haven't seen in our coated seed. Duane Johnson: Do you find that you coat all varieties of seed? Answer: Coatings can be done on any species. It's just a simple matter of putting a solution around the seed. In legume innocula-tion, it's a little bit more difficult because the innoculant is only good for a certain period of time. Also, the seed is wrapped up in that coating, it's more difficult to reinnoculate it. S. Parmar - B.C. Research: In the formation of seed mixtures we con- sider the number of seeds per pound. Don't you think it would also be good to consider the purity of the seed? Answer: Sohan pointed out, and very rightly so, that in the formulation of seed mixtures, you should also consider the living seed aspects. What this really means is that some seeds will have a 90% purity because they are chaffy, whereas, other seeds will have a 99% purity because they have a very low chaff content. Ad- ditionally, some seed species will grow at 90% germination or 95% germination very easily and rapidly, whereas, with others, it is difficult to get them higher than perhaps 80%. So, you multiply the pure seed aspect with the germination to take this into account. Sohan, I chose to ignore that factor here because when you work the pure-living seed into the particular table I showed you, it will alter the percentage by about half to three quarters of a percent in the final instance. It's a rather complicated process, but it is an extremely useful point, and it is one we do consider in seed mixture design. 230

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