) Soil and Water Science
SOIL CONDITIONS AND PLANT ESTABLISHMENT ON RECLAIMED
V. D. Nair, N. J. Bissett, K. M. Portier, D. A. Graetz,
D. S. Segal, and R. A. Garren
MVining of phosphate in central and
northem Florida has involved more than
66,800 ha (165,000 acres) of land, and a
larger area is expected to be mined in the
future. While much of this land was used for
agricultural production prior to mining, and
much will be reclaimed for that purpose
after mining, there remains a need for
development of techniques for reclaiming
native upland communities.
Uplands have not received the same degree
of legal protection as wetlands, but are now
being recognized as vital ecosystems worthy
of restoration. Reclamation of upland
communities has been attempted by the
phosphate industry, but unlike wetland
reclamation, data on techniques and
methodology for upland reclamation has not
been compiled and synthesized. This study
evaluates soil properties to determine which
soil parameters influence successful
reclamation of native upland taxa, as well as
favor the growth and establishment of
undesirable introduced aggressive grasses.
Ten sites were selected for this study based
on the presence of native herbaceous
species, lack of disturbance (such as cattle
grazing or mowing), and known history of
construction and planting methods, as well
as to allow comparison of specific variables
such as overburden vs sand tailings, topsoil
augmentation vs no topsoil augmentation,
and young sites vs older sites.
Soil parameters and vegetation community
structure were evaluated on 9 to 24 transects
(3 to 30 m length) at each site. Soil
characteristics determined included pH,
total C and N, CEC, available nutrients (Ca,
Mg, K, P, Zn, Cu, Mn, Fe, and Na), and
moisture index. The vegetation species were
grouped into introduced aggressive grasses,
wiregrass, lovegrasses, scrub species, and
wetland species and the preferred soil
conditions for these groups were evaluated.
The relationship between the individual
introduced aggressive grasses, cogongrass
(Imperata cylindrica), natalgrass
(Rhynchelytrum repens), bahiagrass
(Paspalum notatum), bermudagrass
(Cynodon dactylon) and torpedograss
(Panicum repens), and soil characteristics
was also evaluated.
There are numerous complex factors and
interactions causing variation in vegetation
ground cover on the 10 sites. Introduction of
native species and method of introduction
were primary factors. Some general
soil/plant relationships were noted, although
soil characteristics were not the only critical
factors for establishment of many of the
vegetation types. Higher concentrations of
soil nutrients and high pH promoted greater
vegetative cover of introduced aggressive
grasses. Therefore, amendments added to
the soil to improve fertility may increase
coverage of undesirable aggressive grasses,
at the expense of slow-growing native
Areas with higher soil moisture retention
such as low-lying pockets and overburden
with high clay content near the surface may
favor introduced aggressive grasses in
communities where xeric species are
targeted. However, high moisture retention
capacity can favor native taxa indicative of
mesic flatwoods or hydric flatwoods.
Advancing the base knowledge for
improving upland reclamation would require
controlled experimentation to determine soil
conditions best suitable for native taxa.
Full text of this paper can be found at:
Nair, V.D. N.J, Bissett, K.M. Portier, D.A.
Graetz, and D.S. Segal. 2000. Soil
Conditions and Plant Establishment on
Reclaimed Phosphate-Mined Uplands. p 35-
48. In W.L. Daniels and S.G. Richardson.
Proceedings, 2000 Annual Meeting of the
American Society for Surface Mining and
Reclamation, Tampa, FL, June 11-15, 2000.
Amer. Soc. Surf. Mining Rec., 3134
Montavesta Rd., Lexington, KY.
V.D. Nair and D.A. Graetz
Soil and Water Science Dept.
P.O. Box 110510, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-0510
Horticulturist, The Natives, Inc.
2929 J.B. Carter Rd., Davenport, FL 33837
P. O. Box 110339, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-0339
D.S. Segal, Senior ScientistJEA
730 NE Waldo Road, Bldg. A
Gainesville, FL 32641
R.A. Garren, Ecologist
1805 NW 34th P1., Gainesville, FL 32605
This research was supported by the Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station and a grant
from the Florida Institute of Phosphate
Research and approved for publication as
Journal Series No. R-07494.