Fertility of Technosols constructed with dam sediments for urban greening and land reclamation

Abstract : Purpose Fine sediment accumulates upstream of hydroelectric dams. To ensure that dams can operate properly, part of the sediment has to be dredged and land managed. In parallel, using topsoil from agricultural parcels for urban greening or land restoration is currently controversial because arable surface areas are decreasing. An alternative idea for protecting these natural resources consists in reusing fine dredged sediment to construct multifunctional soils. This agronomic use is only possible if sediment can provide acceptable physical and chemical properties for plant growth. Materials and methods Four dredged sediments with contrasted initial agronomic properties and one control soil were mixed or not with green waste compost (40% v/v) and used to construct triplicate 30-cm depth soils in lysimetric containers (1.11 x 0.71 m). The 30 constructed soils were exposed to the in situ conditions and sown with ryegrass (Lolium perenne). The evolution of soil chemical and physical properties and plant development were studied every 6 months for 18 months. Results and discussion Above- and below-ground biomass production of the constructed soils contrasted according to the sediment properties and to compost addition. A statistical approach identified eight soil parameters linked to biomass production. Among these parameters, soil structure, quantified from aggregate stability, played a fundamental role. A focus on physical properties confirmed that some sediments were only partially adapted to ryegrass support. Compost addition improved sediment physical properties over time, but caused temporary N deficiency during the first months after installation which limited shoot biomass production. Exogenous plant species developed on the constructed Technosols, especially on the soils where the lack of structure and N deficiency had the strongest effect. Conclusions All sediments were suitable for plant growth over the 18 months of the study. A few soil properties emerged as markers of the fertility of sediment-made Technosols. Among them, the soil structure was one of the most determining parameters. It can be assessed by measuring aggregate stability, macroporosity, the crustability index, and bulk density, while available nutrients (N, P, K) and pH seem sufficient to assess chemical fertility. The balance between the properties of the sediment-made Technosols and the needs of the plants seems to be an essential lever for the establishment of functional soil-plant systems for urban greening or for ecological restoration.
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Submitted on : Monday, August 26, 2019 - 4:14:26 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - 1:27:10 AM

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Gaëtan Jules Fourvel, Laure Vidal Beaudet, Agathe Le Bocq, François Thery, Violaine Brochier, et al.. Fertility of Technosols constructed with dam sediments for urban greening and land reclamation. Journal of Soils and Sediments, Springer Verlag, 2019, 19 (8), pp.3178-3192. ⟨10.1007/s11368-018-2077-1⟩. ⟨hal-02271236⟩

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