An Evaluation of Revegetation Success on Bauxite Residue

Authors


Address correspondence to R. Courtney, email ronan.courtney@ul.ie

Abstract

The current study was undertaken to evaluate the success of a revegetation program on three sites within the Bauxite Residue Disposal Area at the Aughinish Alumina Ltd. refinery. This was achieved by determining botanical diversity, substrate conditions, and plant uptake. Two sites revegetated in 1999, with and without the use of gypsum, were assessed and compared to a site revegetated in 1997. Compared to an initial 6 species used in seeding, a total of 47 species were recorded growing on the three sites with greatest diversity on the 1997 site. There was limited variation in the residue properties of the three treatments indicating that diversity was most influenced by succession and not substrate conditions. Limited available manganese was found in all treatments and significantly lower exchangeable magnesium in the gypsum-amended treatment. Exchangeable sodium, aluminum, and pH in the substrate were not at levels of concern. Appreciable nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium were found as a result of a fertilizing program. Dominant species in the 1999 treatments, Holcus lanatus and Trifolium pratense, were analyzed for elemental composition. Compared to previous studies, foliar nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium were adequate and sodium levels were low. Manganese and magnesium levels were low, and availability should be assessed as part of the monitoring program. Furthermore, the effect of a fertilizing regime on plant uptake and substrate conditions needs to be assessed.

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