How to Utilise Soil Testing for Mining Site Rejuventation
Mining site revegetation is a required step that must be completed by all mining companies. The absence of topsoil combined with the use of surplus materials in place typically makes this a challenging process. In many cases, what previously was able to sustain a flourishing ecosystem is now incapable of growing any plant life at all. The reason for this can be explained by the post-mining soil’s properties.
In a perfect scenario, companies would simply be able to replace the current, infertile soil with one that possesses the same qualities of the original. To do this, it’s important to create a soil whose attributes mimic those of surrounding fertile lands. For this to be possible, we must learn how soil structures work.
Bioaccumulation refers to the process where components fundamental to the generation of organic matter, but whose prevalence is insufficient or non-existent at all within the soil itself, is absorbed and amassed by the topsoil. This absorption of key minerals strengthens over time and happens more rapidly in optimal conditions. This process eventually ensures that the soil has the same qualities as a seasoned one and most importantly, the topsoil is imbued with attributes that are necessary for rejuvenation. The success of bioaccumulation decides the quality of plant life that will be able to grow from the soil.
The importance of Soil Testing
Geotechnical professionals can only be certain of what minerals the post-mining soil requires is to perform extensive soil testing. Such tests are crucial to post-mining rejuvenation. Generally, soil that exists at the site of a former mining project will have the following issues:
Phosphorous inadequacy – phosphorus is a crucial macromineral for plant life. Insufficient levels of phosphorous limit the growth rate of organic material
Calcium inadequacy – the presence of calcium in the soil is vital for a number of plant behaviors including cell division and elongation, enzyme function, starch decomposition and more
Salinity – the degree of dissolved salt present in the soil’s moisture. Salinity has an adverse effect on plant growth and increases the likelihood of erosion
Acidity – this is measured in pH (potential of Hydrogen) on a scale of 1 to 10 and refers to the number of hydrogen ions present in the soil. Anything less than 5.5 in the topsoil and 4.8 in the subsoil is considered to be an acidic soil and is detrimental to plant growth. This is a common issue for soils of post-mining sites
Lack of organic materials – a limited or complete lack of precious minerals present within organic materials is problematic for plant rejuvenation
Ensuring that all of the above issues are rectified is only achievable through soil testing.
Revegetating problematic soils
Identify the soil’s properties before removing the topsoil. Take soil specimens and test them extensively prior to the onset of mining, which will uncover potential hazards that may surface during the rejuvenation process
Store and secure high-grade components
Populate the soil with plant life that is compatible with the new soil’s qualities
Only attempt to plant during colder parts of the year
Tips for effective and efficient post-mining soil rejuvenation
Understand the degree of soil potency needed (how near to perfect soil conditions necessary to ensure plant regrowth)
Determine the existing crop potential of current ground materials (soil pH, minerals and prevalence of organic matter – if any)
Survey the progress of soil potency with the use of frequent soil tests
If you’re a mining company that requires to have its infertile, post-mining site soil transformed into a potent ground material capable of supporting plant life once more, get in touch with a professional soil testing company.
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