RS 478 Lecture 10: Topsoil in Restoration
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Department
Rangeland Ecosystem Science
Course Code
RS 478
Professor
Mark Paschke

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RS 478: Lecture 10 Topsoil in Restoration Outline: 1. Review 2. Importance 3. Management • A major limitation in many restoration projects is lack of suitable soil for plant growth which can be due to: o Loss of soil due to intentional removal or erosion o Contamination of soil due to human pollution or mineral weathering o Naturally poor soils that is difficult to establish plants on. 1. Review • Soil Horizons: A layer of soil, approximately parallel to the surface, having distinct characteristics produced by soil forming processes. Used to classify the soil and make interpretations • O- horizon: Organic layers of decaying plant and animal tissue (must be greater than 12-18 % organic carbon, excluding live roots). • A - Horizons (topsoil): Mineral horizon at or near the surface in which an accumulation of humified organic matter is mixed with the mineral material. o Ap - Plowed A horizon o Ab - buried horizon. • E – Horizons: Eluvial horizons: Mineral horizon where the main feature is loss of silicate clay, iron, aluminum. • B - Horizons (subsoil): mineral horizon • C - Horizon/Layers (substratum): The un-weathered geologic material the soil formed in. Shows little or no sign of soil formation. • Soils can tell the ecological history of a site • Topsoil = O and A horizon, (the good stuff on top) Review Question: Which soil horizon is typically considered topsoil? ü A and O 2. Importance • Why is topsoil important? o Makes for a good seedbed, Organic matter, Soil Biota, Plant nutrients, Plant Propagules (seeds/roots) • It improves seedbed characteristics: Enhances proper seed burial and therefore ensures good seed-soil contact and provides for unrestricted root development • The presence of OM in topsoil influences the nutrient status and physical properties of soil. • Disturbance can remove OM, adding OM can renew a soil with respect to nutrients, structure, and microbes. • Soil Biota – topsoil can be a primary source in restoration. Critical for decomposition and nutrient cycling. Critical for plants that require specific mutualisms. o Plant Nutrients – topsoil can be a primary source in restoration. Other soil horizons may contain lesser amounts
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