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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1146: III International Symposium on Organic Matter Management and Compost Use in Horticulture

Plant growth and use of rockdust-amended compost in land restoration

Authors:   R.A.K. Szmidt, L. Baird, F.E. Szmidt
Keywords:   degraded soils, landfill, composting, low-grade rock solubilisation, remineralisation, low-fertility soils
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1146.25
Abstract:
Rockdust, also known as mineral fines, is a term used to describe primary-rock minerals of <75 Ám particle size which may be used as soil amendments. The spectrum of minerals in rockdusts far exceeds the range in conventional fertilisers and so the hypothesis is that such materials, when sufficiently fine, may improve plant growth, establishment and survival in degraded soils. This research describes the use of two types of rockdust with and without compost as soil amendment for plant establishment at a landfill restoration project. Use of compost resulted in significant improvement of all plant growth and quality measures compared with controls. Use of rockdust tended to be additive to the effect of compost, although results for rockdust alone were small and typically not statistically significant. Effects on plants were predominantly related to compost. Sward biodiversity was correlated with soil organic matter content, and use of rockdust was significant in this regard. Compost, rockdust and their combinations resulted in significant reductions in plant losses compared with controls. There were significant differences in plant performance between rockdust treatments, confirming that the technique cannot be assumed to be generic and is potentially product-specific.

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