Soil-Plant Systems in Mined Land
Many critical ecological factors and processes influence the reconstruction and development of soil systems in post-mined landscapes. By ‘engineering’ certain ecological inputs into soil-plant systems, the development of suitable growth media and soil horizons can be accelerated. Achieving high states of hydrological and biological stability can mean that some reconstructed systems, for example those covering base metal mine tailings, can support target plant communities under local climatic conditions sooner. This is critical where sustainable plant communities need to be established in locations with variable climatic conditions, such as in subtropical monsoonal and semi-arid environments.
CMLR's research aims in the area of soil-plant systems are to develop theoretical and technological know-how in rehabilitating the soil-plant systems of mined land (including mine wastes). Studies are being undertaken to allow the holistic understanding of processes, and input requirements, in the development of root zone structure and function, and the mechanisms of plant physiological tolerances.
In order to achieve long-term stability of newly formed substrates, the identification of rhizosphere interactions in these anthropogenic soil systems is crucial.
Research focuses on two key aspects:
(1) Creating Technosols – the principles and technologies of engineering soils from mine wastes such as tailings.
(2) Rhizosphere Mechanisms – investigating root-mineral interactions in terms of bioweathering and metal/metalloid uptake by plants.