British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Phosphorus requisite for legume-dominated vegetation of mine wastes Gardiner, Robert T.; Stathers, H. E.

Abstract

The principle objective of this study was to determine if a maintenancefree plant community can be established on mine waste. Experimentation included using legume species to add nitrogen to the system, and increasing the phosphorus supplying capacity of the waste to a level capable of sustaining growth and reproduction over the long term, by applying the total phosphorus requirement as fertilizer prior to seeding. Other important objectives include determining the phosphorus requirement of two types of mine waste at Fording Coal and the most efficient method for applying phosphorus to these mine wastes. The study will be monitored for a minimum of eight growing seasons during which period no maintenance fertilizer will be applied. Preliminary results after two growing seasons were reported. Phosphorus has been confirmed as the only nutrient which limits the growth of nitrogen-fixing legume species on mine rock and overburden at Fording Coal. By supplying adequate phosphorus, legume-dominated vegetation produced large quantitities of plant residues, in the order of 4 to 5 tonnes per hectare, and fixed significant amounts of nitrogen, up to 125 kilograms of N per hectare per year. To achieve the above levels of organic matter and nitrogen production, large quantities of phosphorus were required, in the order of 800 kilograms of P205 per hectare for waste rock and 1600 kilograms of P205 per hectare for glacial till overburden.

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