Assessment of Vegetation Establishment

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Lehigh Hanson Materials Limited

One requirement of mine reclamation is to assess the availability of replacement topsoil and the feasibility of different soil amendments in the establishment and sustainability of vegetation.  The Kendall Limestone Quarry in Washington State had an insufficient source of overburden to undertake reclamation activities.

SYLVIS initiated a five-year assessment to provide recommendations for an operational reclamation program. The trial design allowed for the evaluation of the survival and growth of vegetation in two different amendments (a biosolids compost and a fabricated reclamation mix) and an assessment of seeding and planting times in terms of successful vegetative cover establishment.

A key component of the trial was soil monitoring and vegetation assessment.  Soil amendments were characterized for nutrient parameters prior to placement and each year thereafter.  Vegetation was assessed three times annually: spring, summer and fall.  The establishment of grasses and legumes was conducted on a percent cover basis.  The success of planted groundcover, shrubs and trees was conducted through a survival and vigour rating system.  The size and caliper of the vegetation were measured in the final year of monitoring.

The environmental monitoring and vegetation assessment program allowed for quantification of the growth differences between the reclamation mix and the biosolids compost.  These results also provided the basis for recommendations on cost effective, sustainable, operational reclamation.