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KARL FRANZEN   

This idea stinks

Minesite rehabilitation is much like tidying up after a party; everyone has had their fun and gone home, leaving some poor bugger to tidy up.

Researchers in the US however could have made things easier.

The US Department of Agriculture has found farmers and gardeners have been onto something all these years using manure for its magical soil enhancing properties.

In large areas of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma there is little vegetation to be found after the zinc and lead mining left contaminated acidic soils, toxic smelter sites, and large quantities of mine tailings (which is funnily enough known as chat).

Minesites were given a cover crop of switchgrass and either 20 tons (18.1 tonnes) or 120 tons (109 tonnes) of beef manure compost per acre. Soil samples were then taken over a two-year study.

Soils in the high-compost plots had significant increases in pH, plant-available phosphorus, total nitrogen, carbon and available water. Those with more compost also increased microbial biomass, enzyme activity and nitrification potential – which create excellent conditions for establishing and cultivating plants.

Higher rates of compost also lowered lead and zinc availability by about 90 per cent, which could reduce the amounts found in run-off and nearby waterways.

This means it could be possible for farmers and miners to exist in harmony.

 



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