Revegetation of a uranium mine dump by using fertilizer treated sessile oaks

22 October 2012

The rehabilitation of contaminated sites and the establishment of suitable trees for revegetation purposes is often problematic due to the mostly suboptimal nutrient supply and the poor humus reservoir. For these reasons hydrogels (Stockosorb®) and novel humus substitutes (NOVIHUM®), serving as long lasting fertilizer (LLF), were recently tested successfully. At the beginning of this multiyear study, those LLFs were administered to the root zone of young sessile oaks (Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Liebl.), growing in test trials on a uranium mine dump in Schlema (Germany). To quantify the effect of LLFs on plant vitality, chlorophyll a fluorescence measurements and JIP test analyses were used. The results revealed up to 49% higher average photosynthetic vitality (PIABS) of the LLF treated plants compared to controls. Particularly in the first test year, the efficiency of photosynthetic electron transport was strongly increased. This stimulation of photosynthetic activity was supported by direct measurements showing up to 129% increased diameter growth of the treated plants after a four year experimental period.Furthermore an increase of the maximum water holding capacity of the dump soil was attained by using LLFs. Overall, the findings reported here represent a feasible, ecologically justifiable reforestation method with a low environmental hazard potential.