Title page for ETD etd-01202008-125512

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Meredith, Kelly Robyn
Author's Email Address kemeredi@vt.edu
URN etd-01202008-125512
Title The Influence of Soil Reconstruction Methods on Mineral Sands Mine Soil Properties
Degree Master of Science
Department Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Daniels, Walter Lee Committee Chair
Alley, Marcus M. Committee Member
Galbraith, John M. Committee Member
Grisso, Robert D. Jr. Committee Member
  • Reclamation
  • Revegetation
  • Bulk Density
  • Biosolids
Date of Defense 2007-12-12
Availability unrestricted
Significant deposits of heavy mineral sands (primarily ilmenite and zircon) are located in

Virginia in Dinwiddie, Sussex and Greensville counties. Most deposits are located under prime

farmland, and thus require intensive reclamation when mined. The objective of this study was to

determine the effect of four different mine soil reconstruction methods on soil properties and

associated rowcrop productivity. Treatments compared were 1) Biosolids-No Tillage, 2)

Biosolids-Conventional Tillage, 3) Lime+NPK fertilized tailings (Control), and 4) 15-cm

Topsoil over lime+P treated tailings. Treated plots were cropped to corn (Zea Mays L.) in 2005

and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in 2006. Yields were compared to nearby unmined prime

farmland yields. Over both growing seasons, the two biosolids treatments produced the highest

overall crop yields. The Topsoil treatment produced the lowest corn yields due to relatively poor physical and chemical conditions, but the effect was less obvious for the following wheat crop. Reclaimed land corn and wheat yields were higher than long-term county averages, but they

were consistently lower than unmined plots under identical management. Detailed morphological

study of 20 mine soil pedons revealed significant root-limiting subsoil compaction and textural

stratification. The mine soils classified as Typic Udorthents (11), Typic Udifluvents (4) and

Typic Dystrudepts (5). Overall, mined lands can be successfully returned to intensive

agricultural production with comparable yields to long-term county averages provided extensive

soil amendment and remedial tillage protocols are implemented. However, a significant decrease

(~25 to 35%) in initial productivity should be expected relative to unmined prime farmland.

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