coco peat, Desmanthus, Lupinus, sand mine reclamation, soil amendments, spoil


Life Sciences


Sand dunes in the Great Lakes Basin are ecologically and economically important. One economic value of sand dunes is sand mining. However, sand mining activities reduce soil quality which represents an impediment to reclamation efforts. Soil quality improvements followed by revegetation may be necessary for successful reclamation. This study evaluates the germination and initial growth of two legume species, wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) and Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), and two warm-season grass species, Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), in the presence of three soil amendments (coco peat, municipal sewage sludge, and sphagnum peat moss) added to spoil from a local sand mine. Species were grown in pots and propagated under greenhouse conditions. Our results indicate that lupine and Illinois bundleflower exhibited the greatest germination and growth and are recommended as potential candidates for the reclamation of sand mines. Indian grass and little bluestem exhibited low rates of germination and growth. Among spoil amendments, we recommend coco peat based on germination and root, shoot, and total biomass results. Peat moss also exhibited increased rates of germination and growth. We did not observe any germination success for seeds sown in sewage sludge amended spoil. The lack of germination in the sewage sludge amendment may be due to a combination of unfavorable abiotic and biotic soil conditions such as electrical conductivity, pH, or soil microbial activity. Our results are helpful in determining which species and amendment combinations are useful candidates for revegetating former sand mines or similar habitats.

Original Citation

Aschenbach, T. A., & Poling, M. (2015). Initial plant growth in sand mine spoil with organic materials. Ecological Restoration, 33(2), 197-206.

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