Soil Quality and Water Redistribution Influences on Plant Production over Low Hillslopes on Reclaimed Mined Land

Merrill, S.D.; Liebig, M.A.; Hendrickson, J.D.; Wick, A.F.

International Journal of Agronomy 2018: 1431054


ISSN/ISBN: 1687-8159
DOI: 10.1155/2018/1431054
Accession: 070857632

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Coal surface mining in northern Great Plains USA led to reclamation experiments with soil respreading. Respread soil depth (RSD) and runoff of water redistribution (WR) effects interacted in original North Dakota studies, complicating interpretations. We determined WR and soil depth/soil quality (SQ) effects on hillslope production patterns for sites with soil wedges (2%-5% slope, 50-m length) over sodic mine spoils. At Zap, cool-season forages crested wheatgrass (CWG: Agropyron cristatum) and Russian wildrye (Psathyrostachys juncea) generally decreased as RSD increased upslope. At Stanton, alfalfa (Medicago sativa), native grasses (Bouteloua spp.), and CWG responded to RSD, increasing 70% to midslope and decreasing further. A SQ index (SQI) based on six indicator properties was highly correlated (r > 0.7) with RSD. Yield regressions with RSD or SQI were generally significant for Stanton forages and for spring wheat (Triticum aestivum) at both sites. Yield regressions with WR index (catchment area-based) indicated dominance of WR effects at Zap. Cool-season forages at Zap evidently responded to springtime runoff, while Stanton forages and spring wheat at both sites used water later in the season and responded to soil depth/SQ effects. Results suggest models for interaction of SQ and landform WR affecting productivity should include plant community composition and water-use information.