Soil Research Soil Research Society
Soil, land care and environmental research
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Early seedling establishment on aged Tasmanian tin mine tailings constrained by nutrient deficiency and soil structure, not toxicity

Stuart J. Macdonald A C , Gregory J. Jordan A , Tanya G. Bailey A B and Neil Davidson A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

B Greening Australia, GPO Box 1191, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: stuart.macdonald@utas.edu.au

Soil Research 55(7) 692-703 https://doi.org/10.1071/SR16190
Submitted: 20 July 2016  Accepted: 6 March 2017   Published: 6 April 2017

Abstract

Revegetation of exposed wastes at historically abandoned mines is frequently constrained by inherent characteristics of poorly developed and contaminated soils. We tested whether the establishment of seedlings on 85-year-old arsenic rich tailings deposits at an abandoned tin mine in north-east Tasmania was limited by toxicity, nutrient limitation or structural factors. We conducted soil analyses, and tested growth of six native species in pot studies utilising both fertiliser treatments and a replacement series involving tailings and potting medium. An in situ three-year field trial was also conducted to assess the effects of adding sand, compost and biochar on plant growth and water infiltration.

Analyses of the tailings identified a finely laminated structure and potential manganese, magnesium and potassium deficiencies. There was no evidence of microbial inhibition or adverse metals toxicity, pH or salinity effects. The pot trial indicated nutrient limitation acting on each of the species tested. Physical amendment within the field trial resulted in a highly significant and sustained improvement in infiltration rate, as well as improved growth in three of the six species tested.

We conclude that the correction of nutritional and physical deficiencies in surface soils should overcome limitations to the early establishment of native seedlings at this site. This study shows that systematic site assessment and targeted trials is a valuable first step in the revegetation of previously recalcitrant sites.

Additional keywords: amelioration, mine wastes, nutrient limitation, phytoremediation, phytostabilisation, plant establishment, restoration.


References

Adams M, Attiwill P (1986) Nutrient cycling and nitrogen mineralization in eucalypt forests of south-eastern Australia. Plant and Soil 92, 341–362.
Nutrient cycling and nitrogen mineralization in eucalypt forests of south-eastern Australia.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaL28XhvVGnsbc%3D&md5=bd7a182054f4af6b9e946d32b6817c8bCAS |

Ali H, Khan E, Sajad MA (2013) Phytoremediation of heavy metals—concepts and applications. Chemosphere 91, 869–881.
Phytoremediation of heavy metals—concepts and applications.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3sXjtFSlur4%3D&md5=fe5fb2a88f7aec2aa5f590741e316131CAS |

Anawar H, Damon P, Rengel Z, Jasper D, Tibbett M (2016) Alleviating arsenic toxicity to plants in a simulated cover system with phosphate placement in topsoil and subsoil. In ‘Mine Closure 2016’, 15–17 March 2016, Perth. (Eds AB Fourie and M Tibbett) pp. 549–560. (Australian Centre for Goemechanics: Perth, WA)

Ang L (1994) Problems and prospects of afforestation on sandy tin tailings in Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 7, 113–128.

Bååth E (1989) Effects of heavy metals in soil on microbial processes and populations (a review). Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 47, 335–379.
Effects of heavy metals in soil on microbial processes and populations (a review).CrossRef |

Bell LC (1996) The Australian centre for minesite rehabilitation research—an initiative to meet the strategic research needs for sustainable mining rehabilitation. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 91, 125–133.
The Australian centre for minesite rehabilitation research—an initiative to meet the strategic research needs for sustainable mining rehabilitation.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK28XlsFKqtLc%3D&md5=8b642ec493e17cdcf9b5b0eb02df535aCAS |

Bell LC (2001) Establishment of native ecosystems after mining–Australian experience across diverse biogeographic zones. Ecological Engineering 17, 179–186.
Establishment of native ecosystems after mining–Australian experience across diverse biogeographic zones.CrossRef |

Bell LC (2004) Construction and protection of new soils in diverse biogeographic zones–the challenge for successful rehabilitation in the Australian mining industry. In ‘ISCO 2004 – 13th International Soil Conservation Organisation Conference’, 4–8 July 2004, Brisbane. (Eds SR Raine, AJW Biggs, NW Menzies, DM Freebairn, PE Tolmie) Paper no. 402. (ISCO: Brisbane, Qld)

Bingham F, Page A, Mahler R, Ganje T (1975) Growth and cadmium accumulation of plants grown on a soil treated with a cadmium-enriched sewage sludge. Journal of Environmental Quality 4, 207–211.
Growth and cadmium accumulation of plants grown on a soil treated with a cadmium-enriched sewage sludge.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaE2MXksVajurs%3D&md5=5d606c060dfba976b54a30ec6ac8b172CAS |

Bobbink R, Hornung M, Roelofs JG (1998) The effects of air‐borne nitrogen pollutants on species diversity in natural and semi‐natural European vegetation. Journal of Ecology 86, 717–738.
The effects of air‐borne nitrogen pollutants on species diversity in natural and semi‐natural European vegetation.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK1cXnsVWisb0%3D&md5=73d42ac53d7add5f0173efc6265fd9adCAS |

Bradshaw A (1987) The reclamation of derelict land and the ecology of ecosystems. in ‘Restoration ecology: a synthetic approach to ecological research’. (Eds WR Jordan, ME Gilpin, JD Aber) pp. 53–74. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Cao X, Ma LQ, Shiralipour A (2003) Effects of compost and phosphate amendments on arsenic mobility in soils and arsenic uptake by the hyperaccumulator, Pteris vittata L. Environmental Pollution 126, 157–167.
Effects of compost and phosphate amendments on arsenic mobility in soils and arsenic uptake by the hyperaccumulator, Pteris vittata L.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3sXmsVGru7k%3D&md5=38ec8c75ab9976a9b0b1abe260629b78CAS |

Cao X, Ma L, Shiralipour A, Harris W (2010) Biomass reduction and arsenic transformation during composting of arsenic-rich hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata L. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International 17, 586–594.
Biomass reduction and arsenic transformation during composting of arsenic-rich hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata L.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3cXitVSisbk%3D&md5=b90a6bad1a2a0a07526fec892cf8b345CAS |

Fellet G, Marchiol L, Delle Vedove G, Peressotti A (2011) Application of biochar on mine tailings: effects and perspectives for land reclamation. Chemosphere 83, 1262–1267.
Application of biochar on mine tailings: effects and perspectives for land reclamation.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3MXlsFShsL8%3D&md5=ec34422faa2652724b22569ed9fabb1aCAS |

Finnegan P, Chen W (2012) Arsenic toxicity: the effects on plant metabolism. Frontiers in Physiology 3, 182
Arsenic toxicity: the effects on plant metabolism.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC38XptFamsL8%3D&md5=3011e15f65a2ae550463eafee4960717CAS |

Franks DM, Boger DV, Côte CM, Mulligan DR (2011) Sustainable development principles for the disposal of mining and mineral processing wastes. Resources Policy 36, 114–122.
Sustainable development principles for the disposal of mining and mineral processing wastes.CrossRef |

Gadd GM (2004) Microbial influence on metal mobility and application for bioremediation. Geoderma 122, 109–119.
Microbial influence on metal mobility and application for bioremediation.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2cXntlaqtrY%3D&md5=d5b85d1eefb502dbc1ae824c3a367728CAS |

Gilbert M (2000) Minesite rehabilitation. Tropical Grasslands 34, 147–154.

Giller KE, Witter E, Mcgrath SP (1998) Toxicity of heavy metals to microorganisms and microbial processes in agricultural soils: a review. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 30, 1389–1414.

Grant JC, Laffan M, Hill R, Neilsen W (1995) ‘Forest soils of Tasmania: a handbook for identification and management.’ (Forestry Commission: Tasmania)

Grove T, Thomson B, Malajczuk N (1996) Nutritional physiology of eucalypts: uptake, distribution and utilization. In ‘Nutrition of eucalypts’. (Eds PM Attiwill, MA Adams) pp. 77–108. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

Hayes W, Chaudhry T, Buckney R, Khan A (2003) Phytoaccumulation of trace metals at the sunny corner mine, New South Wales, with suggestions for a possible remediation strategy. Australian Journal of Ecotoxicology 9, 69–82.

Hochman Z, Edmeades D, White E (1992) Changes in effective cation exchange capacity and exchangeable aluminum with soil pH in lime-amended field soils. Soil Research 30, 177–187.
Changes in effective cation exchange capacity and exchangeable aluminum with soil pH in lime-amended field soils.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK38XitlCmt7k%3D&md5=2af6827b697db33466ca7eebff2745cfCAS |

Hudson-Edwards KA, Jamieson HE, Lottermoser BG (2011) Mine wastes: past, present, future. Elements 7, 375–380.
Mine wastes: past, present, future.CrossRef |

Johnson AI (1963) ‘A field method for measurement of infiltration.’ (US Government Printing Office: Denver, CO)

King DJ, Doronila AI, Feenstra C, Baker AJM, Woodrow IE (2008) Phytostabilisation of arsenical gold mine tailings using four Eucalyptus species: growth, arsenic uptake and availability after five years. The Science of the Total Environment 406, 35–42.
Phytostabilisation of arsenical gold mine tailings using four Eucalyptus species: growth, arsenic uptake and availability after five years.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1cXht1ShsL7M&md5=aa6fb95267229482e91b10140461ef94CAS |

Leblanc M, Morales J, Borrego J, Elbaz-Poulichet F (2000) 4,500-year-old mining pollution in southwestern Spain: long-term implications for modern mining pollution. Economic Geology and the Bulletin of the Society of Economic Geologists 95, 655–662.

Li M (2006) Ecological restoration of mineland with particular reference to the metalliferous mine wasteland in China: a review of research and practice. The Science of the Total Environment 357, 38–53.
Ecological restoration of mineland with particular reference to the metalliferous mine wasteland in China: a review of research and practice.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD28XhvVWgtrw%3D&md5=c0ad17bf511d2757aad7e9c848140320CAS |

Li X, Huang L (2015) Toward a new paradigm for tailings phytostabilization—nature of the substrates, amendment options, and anthropogenic pedogenesis. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 45, 813–839.
Toward a new paradigm for tailings phytostabilization—nature of the substrates, amendment options, and anthropogenic pedogenesis.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC2MXhtlKrtL4%3D&md5=770118fcfebb7d685ea73720bb546d50CAS |

Loch R (2000) Effects of vegetation cover on runoff and erosion under simulated rain and overland flow on a rehabilitated site on the Meandu Mine, Tarong, Queensland. Soil Research 38, 299–312.
Effects of vegetation cover on runoff and erosion under simulated rain and overland flow on a rehabilitated site on the Meandu Mine, Tarong, Queensland.CrossRef |

Lockley J, Pollington M (2006) Royal George Tin Mine Tailings Rehabilitation Review Report, Pitt and Sherry, Hobart.

Lottermoser B (2010) ‘Mine wastes: characterization, treatment and environmental impacts.’ (Springer Verlag: Berlin)

Madejón E, Doronila A, Madejón P, Baker A, Woodrow I (2012) Biosolids, mycorrhizal fungi and eucalypts for phytostabilization of arsenical sulphidic mine tailings. Agroforestry Systems 84, 389–399.
Biosolids, mycorrhizal fungi and eucalypts for phytostabilization of arsenical sulphidic mine tailings.CrossRef |

McCabe OM, Otte M (1997) Revegetation of metal mine tailings under wetland conditions. In ‘Proceedings of the 14th Annual National Meeting – Vision 2000: an Environmental Commitment’, 10–15 May 1997, Austin. (Eds JE Brandt, JR Galevotic, L Kost, J Trouart) pp. 99–103 (American Society for Surface Mining and Reclamation: Austin, TX)

McKenzie N, Coughlan K, Cresswell H (2002) ‘Soil physical measurement and interpretation for land evaluation.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

Meharg AA, Hartley‐Whitaker J (2002) Arsenic uptake and metabolism in arsenic resistant and nonresistant plant species. New Phytologist 154, 29–43.
Arsenic uptake and metabolism in arsenic resistant and nonresistant plant species.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD38Xjs1Gqsb8%3D&md5=e2c6800f635bdbc632dd8afcef500899CAS |

Mendez MO, Maier RM (2008) Phytoremediation of mine tailings in temperate and arid environments. Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology 7, 47–59.

Montagnini F (2000) Accumulation in above-ground biomass and soil storage of mineral nutrients in pure and mixed plantations in a humid tropical lowland. Forest Ecology and Management 134, 257–270.
Accumulation in above-ground biomass and soil storage of mineral nutrients in pure and mixed plantations in a humid tropical lowland.CrossRef |

Moore G (Ed.) (2001) ‘Soil guide: a handbook for understanding and managing agricultural soils.’ 2nd edn. (Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia: Perth)

Muehlchen A (1994) Eastside Ecosystem Management Project: Functional groups of bacteria. Contract report to USDA Forest Service, Walla Walla, WA. Available at https://icbemp.gov/science/muehlchenandrea.pdf [accessed 23 June 2014].

Mummey DL, Stahl PD, Buyer JS (2002) Soil microbiological properties 20 years after surface mine soil microbiological properties 20 years after surface mine. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 34, 1717–1725.
Soil microbiological properties 20 years after surface mine soil microbiological properties 20 years after surface mine.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD38Xps12ltLY%3D&md5=977e5d283effd73ccdad31425b96c29fCAS |

Noble T and Lottermoser B (2012) Evaluating the remediation of arsenic-rich tailings at the historic Royal George tin mine, Tasmania, Australia. In ‘Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Mine Closure,’ 25–27 September 2012, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. pp. 163–172. (Australian Centre for Geomechanics)

Nurtjahya E, Setiadi D, Guhardja E, Setiadi Y (2009) Succession on tin-mined land in Bangka Island. Blumea (Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants 54, 131–138.
Succession on tin-mined land in Bangka Island. CrossRef |

Nussbaumer Y, Cole MA, Offler CE, Patrick JW (2016) Identifying and ameliorating nutrient limitations to reconstructing a forest ecosystem on mined land. Restoration Ecology 24, 202–211.
Identifying and ameliorating nutrient limitations to reconstructing a forest ecosystem on mined land.CrossRef |

Ohsowski BM, Klironomos JN, Dunfield KE, Hart MM (2012) The potential of soil amendments for restoring severely disturbed grasslands. Applied Soil Ecology 60, 77–83.
The potential of soil amendments for restoring severely disturbed grasslands.CrossRef |

Pendall E, Osanai Y, Williams AL, Hovenden MJ (2011) Soil carbon storage under simulated climate change is mediated by plant functional type. Global Change Biology 17, 505–514.
Soil carbon storage under simulated climate change is mediated by plant functional type.CrossRef |

Porter E, Peterson P (1977) Arsenic tolerance in grasses growing on mine waste. Environmental Pollution (1970) 14, 255–265.

Pulford I, Watson C (2003) Phytoremediation of heavy metal-contaminated land by trees–a review. Environment International 29, 529–540.
Phytoremediation of heavy metal-contaminated land by trees–a review.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3sXivVOnsbc%3D&md5=996ea26ba88b6c56ada7e87654f0046fCAS |

Punz WF, Sieghardt H (1993) The response of roots of herbaceous plant species to heavy metals. Environmental and Experimental Botany 33, 85–98.
The response of roots of herbaceous plant species to heavy metals.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK3sXhvVGitLY%3D&md5=259f97b3c7e1cd80474b9bccbc588ba9CAS |

Rayment G, Lyons D (2011) ‘Soil chemical methods – Australasia.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

Reichman S (2002) ‘The responses of plants to metal toxicity: a review focusing on copper, manganese and zinc.’ (Australian Minerals & Energy Environment Foundation Melbourne: Australia)

Reid JB, Hill RS, Brown MJ, Hovenden MJ (Eds) (2005) ‘Vegetation of Tasmania.’ (Australian Biological Resources Study: Hobart)

Sands R, Greacen E, Gerard C (1979) Compaction of sandy soils in radiata pine forests. I. A penetrometer study. Soil Research 17, 101–113.
Compaction of sandy soils in radiata pine forests. I. A penetrometer study.CrossRef |

Schützendübel A, Polle A (2002) Plant responses to abiotic stresses: heavy metal‐induced oxidative stress and protection by mycorrhization. Journal of Experimental Botany 53, 1351–1365.

Singh BP, Cowie AL, Chan KY (2011) ‘Soil health and climate change.’ (Springer Verlag: New York)

Tandy S, Healey JR, Nason MA, Williamson JC, Jones DL (2009) Remediation of metal polluted mine soil with compost: co-composting versus incorporation. Environmental Pollution 157, 690–697.
Remediation of metal polluted mine soil with compost: co-composting versus incorporation.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1cXhsVOisLfI&md5=ec55259e1aa8e4fb0b8d0dc900c5ae4cCAS |

Taylor HM, Roberson GM, Parker JJ (1966) Soil strength-root penetration relations for medium-to coarse-textured soil materials. Soil Science 102, 18–22.
Soil strength-root penetration relations for medium-to coarse-textured soil materials.CrossRef |

Tordoff G, Baker A, Willis A (2000) Current approaches to the revegetation and reclamation of metalliferous mine wastes. Chemosphere 41, 219–228.
Current approaches to the revegetation and reclamation of metalliferous mine wastes.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3cXivFKktr0%3D&md5=a85a7203477d3d94513a478060c2ef35CAS |

Urquhart G (1968) Notes on The Royal George Tin Mine. Technical Reports. pp. 57–69, Mineral Resources Tasmania (MRT), Hobart.

Vepraskas M (1988) Bulk density values diagnostic of restricted root growth in coarse-textured soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 52, 1117–1121.
Bulk density values diagnostic of restricted root growth in coarse-textured soils.CrossRef |

Visser S, Parkinson D (1992) Soil biological criteria as indicators of soil quality: soil microorganisms. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 7, 33–37.
Soil biological criteria as indicators of soil quality: soil microorganisms.CrossRef |

Vitousek PM, Farrington H (1997) Nutrient limitation and soil development: experimental test of a biogeochemical theory. Biogeochemistry 37, 63–75.
Nutrient limitation and soil development: experimental test of a biogeochemical theory.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK2sXislagsbY%3D&md5=d3a4f36e3fe82ae0adf1d6a8fe625803CAS |

Wong M (2003) Ecological restoration of mine degraded soils, with emphasis on metal contaminated soils. Chemosphere 50, 775–780.
Ecological restoration of mine degraded soils, with emphasis on metal contaminated soils.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD38XptlCrsrk%3D&md5=0c8a84e39dc5e57b0abafcde6e1f9662CAS |

Wright JW (2007) Local adaptation to serpentine soils in Pinus ponderosa. Plant and Soil 293, 209–217.
Local adaptation to serpentine soils in Pinus ponderosa.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2sXltlaktb0%3D&md5=e7fdf081981de3bb2f51f2325481309eCAS |

Yang XE, Long XX, Ni WZ, Ye ZQ, He ZL, Stoffella PJ, Calvert DV (2002) Assessing copper thresholds for phytotoxicity and potential dietary toxicity in selected vegetable crops. Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part. B, Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes 37, 625–635.
Assessing copper thresholds for phytotoxicity and potential dietary toxicity in selected vegetable crops.CrossRef |

Yin B, Crowley D, Sparovek G, De Melo WJ, Borneman J (2000) Bacterial functional redundancy along a soil reclamation gradient. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 66, 4361–4365.
Bacterial functional redundancy along a soil reclamation gradient.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3cXnt1Cmur4%3D&md5=05160293bd52e83171a7efd4fa0be8f7CAS |



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation