United States Department of Agriculture endmen Forest Service NortheasternForest Experiment Station ~ n a Acidic Minesoi n Research Paper NE-502 William T. Plass The Author William T. PIass received a B.S. degree in farestry from Iowa State University in 1948 and an M.S. de- gree in silviculture from the Uni- versity of Missouri in 1959. He joined the USDA Forest Service in 1948, and served in several research capacities relating to timber man- agement and the silviculture of cen- tral hardwoods. From 1962 until his retirement in 1979, Plass was as- signed to the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station's surface-mine restoration research unit. Manuscript received for publication 8 May 1981 Organic amendments can be in- cluded in minesoil revegetation treatments to produce high-density ground covers or increase the yield of pasture and forage crops. They may provide an alternative to the "topsoiling" requirements under current surface-mining laws and regulations. In this study, shredded hardwood bark, composted munici- pal waste, and a tannery waste were applied to an acidic minesoil. Sup- plemental inorganic amendments in- cluding fertilizer, agricultural lime, and an alkaline waste from an SO2 scrubber system were applied alone and in combination with the organic amendments. Treatment compari- sons were based on vegetation re- sponse and chemical and physical characteristics of the minesoil after treatment, Organic amendments are not required for establishing vegeta- tion though some reduced the time required to produce an acceptable cover. Site characteristics, land use objectives, and the availability of or- ganic materials determine the ap- propriate amendment for a specific site. Figure I .-Estes aerospreader applying municipal waste, Nutrient availability, micro- biological activity, and moisture effi- ciency are directly and indirectly af- fected by the organic matter in a soil. Organic matter is an important component of productive forest soils. Many of the less productive forest soils in the coal-producing re- gions of the Appalachians have rela- tively low percentages of organic matter. Fresh minesoils generally are deficient or lacking in this valua- ble component. Previous research has been concerned with the use of organic materials as amendments for toxic spoils where other treatments have failed. The use of sewage sludge, manure, and composted municipal waste has been successful to some degree in revegetating toxic spoils (Sspper and Mardos 1972; Sopper et al. 1974; Sutton 1973; Lejcher and Kunkle 1974; Scanlon et al. 1973). The successful revegetation of thousands of acres of nontoxic minesoil with inorganic fertilizer (with or without lime) demonstrates posted municipal waste, and tan- It is an alkaline material with a high that organic amendments are not nery waste, represent a wide range moisture content and the consisten essential. However, it is believed of physical properties and chemical cy of fresh manure. that a high-density herbaceous composition. Shredded hardwood cover can be produced in less time bark is a waste product from saw- Shredded hardwood bark was and that yields of pasture and for- mills using debarkers. The bark is applied at a rate equivalent to 30 to age crops will be higher when or- processed by passing it through a 40 cubic yards per acre, csmpostctd ganic amendments are used. It has shredding machine that reduces the municipal was& at 7 to 10 tons per been suggested that organic amend- bark fragments to a more uniform acre, and tannew waste at 7 to 10 ments provide an alternative to the size. Bark from many species of Ap- tons per acre, air-dried weight. The "topsoiling'?requirements under palachlan hardwoods may be in- bark and the municipal waste were current surface-mining laws and cluded but the oaks probably repre- applied witk an Estesl aerospreader regulations. sent the greatest volume. (Fig. 1). The tannery waste was spread by hand; however, a conven- In this study, shredded hard- Cornposted municipal waste tionail manure spreader would be wood bark, composted municipal contains all materials commonly more efficient for spreading tannew waste, and tannery waste were ap- found in municipal garbage, includ- waste on large acreages, plied and disced into an acidic ing glass and plastics, A process minesoil. We compared vegetation that includes shredding, grinding, A split-plot experimental design response and chemical and physical and composting produces a granu- was selected FOP this study. Each of characteristics of the minesoil after lar product. The compssling proc- the organic amendments and an un- these organic amendments had ess minimizes or eliminates paths- treated c ~ n t r owere randomly as- i been applied. Fertilizer, agricultural genic hazards. Potential plant and lime, and an alkaline waste from an animal toxicities are cantralled by 801: scrubber system were evaluated excluding industrial wastes, P k e use of trade, firm, or csr oration as supplemental amendments. names in this paper is for the inhrma- Tannepy waste contains the tion and convenience of t h e reader. S u c k organic residues andthe US@ does not constitute an official en- Materials and Methods do'sement by the V.Sv De- effluents from a tannery. This efflu. partment of Agriculture or the Forest f Re three organic amendments, ent is discharged into settling Sewice sf any product or service to the shredded hardwood bark, come ponds to allow the solids to settle. exclusion of others t h a m a y be suitable. signed to one plot in each of three Figure 2.-The study area after municipal waste and shredded bark had blocks. Each block had one com- been applied. mon side with another block. The plots were subdivided into four sub- plots. Three inorganic amendment treatments were randomly assigned to three subplots. The fourth sub- plot was not treated with inorganic amendments. Diammonium phos- phate fertilizer (18-46-0) was ap- plied at a rate of 300 pounds per acre alone, and in combination with lime and scrubber waste. Agricul- tural limestone, the second in- organic amendment, represents a treatment often recommended for acidic minesoils. The third inorganic amendment, scrubber waste, was a waste product from an SO2 scrub- bing system for a coal-burning elec- tric generating plant. In this system, limestone is used to remove SO2 and other pollutants. The limestone must be replenished periodically and the residual material represents a large volume of industrial waste. It was included in the study to deter- mine its potential for mined-land reclamation. The limestone and scrubber waste had similar calcium carbonate equivalents and both were applied at a rate of 3 tons per Species Pounds per acre mated. These two estimates were acre. used to obtain the percentage of "K-31" tall fescue 10 each quadrat covered by legumes. The study area is located on a relatively flat bench on a surface Orc hardgrass 5 mine in Randolph County, West Vir- Red clover 3 At the end of the first growing ginia (Fig. 2). A coarse-textured Alsike clover 2 season, the bulk density of the sur- shale and sandstone overburden Kobe lespedeza 5 face 6 inches was determined by. was top-dressed with 4 to 6 inches Birdsfoot trefoil 5 the rubber-balloon method. Water- of soil. The top-dressing was a mix- Crownvetch 3 holding capacity and total pore ture of the B and C horizons from a space were determined by conven- forest soil. Little or no A horizon The study was established in tional laboratory methods for soil was found at this site. This pro- May 1977. During the first three particles 2 mm or less in size. cedure is typical of many mining growing seasons, vegetative yield operations in West Virginia. Labora- was determined by clipping a 4 ft2 After three growing seasons, a tory analyses of this top-dressing quadrat within each subplot. The sample was collected of the surface showed that pH ranged from 3.7 to green weight of all living plants was 6 inches of minesoil in each subplot 4.4 and that there was a deficiency used to compare vegetation re- to compare selected chemical char- of phosphorus. The soil texture was sponse to treatments. acteristics. Specific conductance sandy loam to sandy clay loam. and pH were determined by conven- Prior to the third clipping, the tional methods in which a spoil and The organic and inorganic percent ground cover within each distilled water mixture are used. amendments were applied, the plots quadrat was estimated. The percent- Available phosphorus was deter- were disced, and the following seed age of the total ground cover con- mined by the Bray No. 1 extractant mixture was sowed: tributed by legumes was then esti- solution. The titration method devel- oped by Yuan was used to deter- After two growing seasons, Plots treated with lime and mine exchangeable acidity and there was a significant difference in fertilizer and scrubber waste and aluminum. Available calcium, mag- yield between plots treated with fertilizer had significantly higher nesium, and potassium were deter- organic amendments. Neither the in- yields than fertilizer alone or the mined by atomic absorption organic amendments nor the inter- control. Although there was no sig- methods. action between organic and inor- nificant difference in yield between ganic amendments significantly af- the lime and fertilizer and scrubber fected yield. The yields were high- waste and fertilizer plots, the lime Results est on plots treated with municipal and fertilizer treatment had consis- and tannery waste. Both treatments tently higher yields than the scrub- Vegetation Response had significantly higher yields than ber waste fertilizer treatment. The green weights of all plant the shredded bark treatment or the materials removed from each quad- control, but there were no signifi- There were significant differ- rat at each clipping date were used cant differences between treat- ences in yield between replications to compare vegetative response to ments. The shredded bark plots had during the third growing season. the organic and inorganic treat- significantly higher yields than the Chemical characteristics of the ments. Analysis of variance and control plots. minesoil showed the replication Duncan's multiple range test were with the lowest yield had signifi- used to analyze the data. During the third growing sea- cantly lower exchangeable alumi- son, both organic and inorganic num and available phosphorus. Al- During the first growing sea- amendments significantly affected though not statistically significant, son, there was no significant differ- yields and there was a significant the replication with the lowest yield A e n c e in yield between plots treated difference in yield between replica- also had the highest median pH and with the organic amendments or in tions. The interaction between or- mean specific cswductance. Ex- interactions between the organic ganic and inorganic amendments changeable acidity and available and inorganic amendments. The in- was not significant. The municipal potassium were low and there was organic amendments significantly waste treatment had significantly no consistent trend for calcium or influenced vegetation growth. Plots higher yields than all other organic magnesium. treated with lime and fertilizer and amendments and the control plots. scrubber waste and fertilizer pro- Yields following the tannery waste Species composition is an im- duced the highest yield (Table 1). treatment were higher than those portant consideration in treatment There was no significant difference for the shredded bark treatment or comparisons. The species of between these treatments. The the control. There was no signifi- grasses and legumes in the mixture plots treated with lime and fertilizer cant difference in yield between the have a range of tolerances to toxic had significantly higher yields than shredded bark treatment and the ions, nutrient requirements, and plots treated with fertilizer alone. control. compatability with associated Table 1.-Average green weight yield for three growing seasons Organic amendment Inorganic Control Shredded bark Composted waste Tannery waste amenbment Growing season Growing season Growing season Growing season Thousand _ - - _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ pounds peracre - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Control a a 0.4 a 0.1 1.3 0.4 1.1 5.5 0.4 2.3 4.4 Fertilizer a a .5 0.3 .9 1.8 .9 1.5 7.2 .8 2.1 4.7 Lime + Fertilizer 0.2 1.5 7.2 1.0 1.8 7.4 1.2 2.0 9.0 1.3 1.8 9.1 Scrubber waste + fertilizer .3 1.2 7.1 1.1 1.9 6.0 .9 2.2 7.7 .9 2.0 5.3 a Average is less than 100 pounds per acre, plants. These treatments may affect Table 2,-Percentage of ground cover provided by legumes at the end each of these toleran~e factors di- of the third growing season rectly or indirectly. The legumes are more rest~onslve taxlcitles, nutri- to Organic amendment ent availability, and competition Inorganic than many grass species. Therefore, amendment the percentage of the ground cover Control Shredded Composted Tannery bark waste waste contributed by legumes was related to the treatments. Each of the or- ganic amendments when used alone Control increased the percentage of leg- Fertilizer umes on the plots (Table 2), The use Lime + of fertilizer with the organic amend- fertilizer ments resuited in a slight increase S~rubber waste in the percentage of legumes. The -r- fertilizer addition of lime or scrubber waste and fertilizer created con,ditions that a Grownvetch found on one or more subplots. allowed the legumes to dominate the cover. Phis occurred for all or- ganic amendments as well as the control. Birdsfoot trefoil dominated the legume cover beii"t.red clover and crownvetch contributed on many plots. Aisike clover and Kobe les- pedeza were not present after three growing seasons though they were Table 3.-Physical properties of mine soils I year after treatment included in the seed mixture. Crownvetch was found on all plots Moisture- treated with lime or scrubber waste, Treatment Bulk density Pore space holding and on plots treated with tannery capacity waste and fertilizer, Physical Properties - - - - - Percent - - - - - - Control One year after treatment, bulk Control density, total pore space, and mois- Lime + fertilizer ture-holding capacity were deter- Scrubber waste + fertilizer mined for selected treatment combi- Mean nations. No samples were collected Shredded bark on plots treated with fertilizer alone, Gontrol or in combination with thhe organic Lime + fertilizer amendments. Scrubber waste + fertilizer There was no significant differ- Mean ence between "rreatments for bulk Municipal waste density or total pore space (Table 3). Control Analyses of the moistcareholding Lime i- fertilizer capacity show that subplots treated Scrubber waste + fertilizer with scrubber waste had significant- Mean ly lower moisture-holding capacity Tannery waste than the untreated control or the Control plots treated with lime, There was Lime i- fertilizer no significant differences in water- Scrubber waste + fertilizer holding capacity between t h e or- Mean ganic amendments. higher values for both variables than The analyses show the tannery all other treatments. Minesoils on waste treatment and the untreated A t the end of the third growing the control plots had the lowest pH control had significantly higher lev- season, samples were collected values. There was no significant dif- els of phosphorus than the bark or from each subplot to assess the ference in specific conductance be- composted municipal waste treat- chemical characteristics of the tween the control and shredded ments. The low levels of phos- minesoils. Parameters included bark and municipal waste treat- phorus on the bark and municipal were pH, specific csnductance, ex- ments. waste plots may reflect a interaction changeable acidity, exchangeable between the organic amendment aluminum, and available phss- Both organic and inorganic and the available phosphorus. The phorus, potassium, calcium, and amendments reduced exchangeable inorganic amendments did not af- magnesium. All data was analyzed acidity and exchangeable aluminum. fect phosphorus levels. There were by analysis of variance and Dun- Tannery waste treatments had sig- highly significant differences in can's multiple range test. nificantly lower levels than all other available phosphorus between repii- treatments. All organic amendment cations; replication means ranged Minesoil pH and specific con- treatments were lower than the con- from 38.4 to 9.7 ppm. ductance were significantly influ- trol. Lime and scrubber waste sig- enced by the organic amendments n i licantly reduced exchangeable There were no significant differ- but not by the inorganic amend- acidity and exchangeable aluminum, ences in potassium between plots ments (Table 4). The tannery waste but there was no significant differ- treated with organic or inorganic treatment resulted in significantly ence between these treatments. amendments. Table 4.-Miarsssil chemical characteristics 3 years after treatment Exchangeable- Available- Median Specific Treatment pH conductance acidity aluminum P K Ca Mg Csntrof Control Fertilizer Lime fertilizer = + Scrubber waste -i-fertlrizer Mean Shredded bark Control Fertilizer Lime fertilizer += Scrubber waste + Fertilizer Mean Municipal waste Control Fertilizer Lime + fertilizer Scrubber waste + fertilizer Mean "I"annery waste Control Fertilizer Lime -r- fertilizer Scrubber waste -3. fertilizer Mean Indicates a trace. The tannery waste treatment Therefore, the time required to pro- benefit of fertilizer, lime, or scrub- greatly increased calcium and mag- duce an effective ground cover- ber waste. Shredded hardwood bark nesium levers, but there was no 1,000 pounds of green forage per was less effective and required 3 significant difference between the acre-provides a basis for reviewing years. These organic amendments other two organic amendment treat- the treatment options. reduced active acidity, exchange- ments or the control. The lime and able acidity, and exchangeable scrubber waste treatments signifi- An effective ground cover can- aluminum. cantly increased calcium but not not be established on this minesoil magnesium. without organic or inorganic amend- The use of fertilizer with the ments. Acidity and exchangeable three organic amendments did not Discussions aluminum are believed to be con- appreciably reduce the length of tributing factors. The addition of 300 time required to produce an effec- The results of this study indi- pounds of diammonium phosphate tive cover. It did increase yields cate that several organic and inor- fertilizer alone did not increase when used with shredded bark and ganic amendment options may be yields. However, when fertilizer and composted municipal waste. useful in establishing an herba- lime or scrubber waste were used, ceous cover on acidic minesoil. The an effective cover developed during Where lime and fertilizer were primary advantages are more rapid the second growing season. These used with the organic amendments, establishment of an effective cover treatments also are favorable for an effective cover with a high per- and higher yields of pasture and for- legume growth. centage of legumes developed in age crops. the first growing season. Scrubber When composted municipal waste with fertilizer and the organic The time required to establish waste or tannery waste were used, amendments were less effective an effective cover is an important an effective cover developed in the than lime but an effective cover was consideration on many mine sites. second growing season without the produced In the first or second growing season. Literature Cited and liquid digested sludge to es- tablish grasses and legumes on Lejcher, T. R.; Kunkie, S. H. bituminous stripmine spoils. Uni- Restoration of acid spoil banks versity Park, PA: Pennsylvania with treated sewage sludge. In: State University Institute for Re- Recycling treated municipal search on Land and Water Re- wastewater and sludge through sources, Research Project Techni- forest and cropland. Sopper, cal Completion Report; 1974 W. E.; Kardos, L. T., eds. Universi- March. Available from U.S. Dep. ty Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Commer., Natl. Tech. lnf. Serv., Univ. Press; 1974. Springfield, VA 22161 Scanlon, D. H.; Duggan, C.; Bean, S. D. Evaluation of municipal corn= Sutton, P. Establishment of vegeta. post for strip mine reclamation. tion on toxic coal mine spoils. Compost Sci. 14(3): 4-8; 1973. Presented at the research and ap- plied technology symposium on Sopper, W. E.; Kardos, L. T. Munici- mined-land reclamation; 1973 pal wastewater aids revegetation March; Pittsburgh, PA. Sponsored of stripmined spoil banks. J. For. by the National Coal Association. 70(10): 612-61 5; 1972. Available from the Mined-land reclamation symposium, Bitumi- Sopper, W. E.; Kardos, L. T.; Edger- nous Coal Research, Inc. Monroe- ton, 8. R. Using sewage effluent ville, PA 15146. 3J.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1982-505-012:21 Errata Sheet -- Research Paper NE-502 Change "Cornposted waste" t o "Municipal waste" i n box headings i n Tables 1 and 2 . Plass, William T. Organic and inorganic amendments affect vegetation growth on an acidic minesoil. Broomall, PA: North- east. For. Exp. Stn.; 1982; USDA For. Serv. Res. Pap. NE 502. 7 P* Shredded hardwood bark, composted municipal waste, and a tannery waste were applied to an acidic minesoil. Supplementai inorganic amendments including fertilizer, agricultural lime, and an alkaline waste from an SO2 scrubber system were applied alone and in combination with the organic amend- ments. Treatment comparisons were based on vegetation re- sponse and chemical and physical characteristics of the mine. soil after treatment. Organic amendments are not required for establishing vegetation, though some reduced the time re- quired to produce an acceptable cover. Keywords: Bark mulch; composted municipal waste; tannery waste; grasses; legumes Headquadem of the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station are in Broomall, Pa. Field laboratories are maintained at: e Amherst, Massachusetts, in cooperation with the University of M8~~8chuscetts. @ Berea, Kentucky, in cooperation with Wrea College. @ Burlington, Vermont, in cooperation with the University of Vermont. Delaware, Ohio. @ Durham, New Hampshire, in cooperation with the University of Hamden, Connecticut, in cooperation with Yale University. @ Morgantown, West Virginia, in cooperation with West Virginia University, Morgantown. @ Orono, Maine, in cooperation with the University of Maine, Orono. Parsons, West Virginia. Princeton, West Virginia. Syracuse, New York, in cooperation with the State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry at Syracuse University, Syracuse. University Park, Pennsylvania, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania State University. Q) Warren, Pennsylvania.