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Animal Manure Renourishes Post-Mining Landscapes


Compost pitting has been a customary practice of cultivating soil. Recently, a study of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proven that this method also works for improving abandoned land areas after being contaminated by mining activities.

For a long time now, the mining industry has been known as a major cause of deforestation and pollution (air and water). There are various techniques that are employed in mining that deteriorates the once fertile and habitable land.  Clearing of vegetation, blasting at riverbanks, potential spillage of tailings, and emission of greenhouse gases from the machines are just some of the industry’s processes that are detrimental to the environment.

Clearing a land involves cutting of trees and stripping of the topsoil, a biologically essential layer, which will be laid over again afterwards. However, in the course of actual mining, the removed and stockpiled topsoil deteriorates over time such that its physical, chemical, and microbiological properties change, becoming infertile and unsuitable for vegetation.

Adding animal manure on these infertile post-mining lands is a solution offered by scientists to provide sufficient carbon back into the soil. Over the mine sites at southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas, and northeastern Oklahoma, 20 or 120 tons of beef manure compost per acre was made, and soil samples from them were collected and tested for the two-year study.

According to the study, the compost rendered the soil more favorable for vegetation. There was increase in phosphorus content, total nitrogen, pH, carbon, water, microbial biomass, enzyme activity, and nitrification potential. Moreover, the availability of lead and zinc decreased to about 90%.

 [via PhysOrg]

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