Restoring Construction Soils with Compost, Earthworms and Plants

Urban soils at the scene of construction where subsoil has been brought to the surface, mixed or that have had the topsoil removed and construction materials like sand, stone, brick etc. embedded in them can pose a challenge to regenerate. Stabilising these soils such that rain and flood doesn’t cause erosion is also an important task.

To help understand what contributes to soil aggregate formation and the stability of these soils researchers studied the “Interactive effects of compost, plants and earthworms on the aggregations of constructed Technosols” and found increasing amounts of compost needed increasing amounts of plants or earthworms to make a difference.

Aggregation is an important physical process to study during the early formation of Technosols. It is known to be influenced both by the organic matter content and soil biota. Constructed Technosols represent good models to test the importance of these factors since their composition can be easily manipulated by mixing different proportions of parent materials and introducing soil organisms. In this study, we performed a 5 month mesocosm experiment, using excavated deep horizons of soils (EDH) as mineral material mixed with green waste compost (GWC) at six different proportions (from 0 to 50%) in the presence or absence of plants and/or earthworms. After 21 weeks of incubation, aggregation was characterized by: 1) determining the size fraction and morphology, 2) measuring the distribution of organic carbon (OC) in each fraction and 3) testing the aggregate stability. Results showed that organisms accounted for 50% of soil aggregation variance while green waste compost (GWC) was responsible for only 5% of the variance. The percentage of total variance of OC distribution in aggregates explained by organisms, GWC, and the interaction of the two was similar (28%, 22% and 26%, respectively). The effect of GWC on structural stability was negligible (2%) compared to that of organisms (70%). The effect of earthworms combination with plants was complex: plants had a dominant effect on the distribution of the size of aggregates by disrupting earthworm casts, but earthworms had a dominant effect over plants for aggregate stability under fast wetting only when the percentage of compost was low. This study underlines the importance of considering the interaction of the organic matter and soil biota: in this case, increasing compost proportion in a Technosol has significant effects on aggregation only in the presence of plants or earthworms.

Interactive effects of compost, plants and earthworms on the aggregations of constructed Technosols

Farm Managed Natural Regeneration

This picture is an example of what can be achieved by managing existing trees that have been over harvested by man that still have large roots hidden below the surface. These trees are managed for regrowth. And the picture is from desert to regrowth in four years. The tree then created microclimates under the trees that increased yields.

Screenshot from 2017-06-29 04-13-43.png

Reforesting 5 Million+ Hectares in the Desert: Tony Rinaudo’s FMNR from Raleigh Latham on Vimeo.