Obstacles in land reclamation can be numerous and are generally related to the conditions of soil post-construction or post-mining. Degraded or damaged soils can become technical in nature and require one-on-one consultation to discuss solutions for the particular reclamation projects. We have soil scientists on staff able to offer consultation.
Soil compaction is often an issue when dealing with site reclamation. Before seeding an area that has soil compaction concerns, the area should be decompacted 4 inches deep to loosen the soil. Once the soil has been decompacted, the area should be rolled or cultipacked. This will create a firm seedbed to plant into. If soil compaction is not a concern and the area has a firm weed-free seedbed, it is ready to seed. If the area has any weed pressure, it is best to control the weeds before seeding the site. A non-selective contact herbicide such as Roundup should be used to kill any weeds prior to seeding.
The seed can either be drilled, broadcasted, or hydroseeded. If a grass drill or no-till grass drill is used to seed the area, ensure that depth bands are used to prevent the seed from being planted deeper than ½ inch. If the seed is broadcasted, the site should be rolled or cultipacked after the seed is spread. Rolling or cultipacking will ensure good seed to soil contact. It is recommended that the seeding rate be increased by 50-100% when sites are being broadcasted or hydroseeded. Drill seeding prior to hydroseeding (assuming slope is not an issue) is best, as this will ensure good seed to soil contact.
Fertilization is one aspect that may or may not be required based on the conditions of the soil. If subsoil has been blended with topsoil, it is likely that fertilizer should be applied. Vegetative soil analysis can offer insight to the soil’s chemistry, which can assist in fertilizer recommendations. If tests have not been conducted, apply 2 pounds of nitrogen and 1 pound of phosphate per 1000 square feet or 50 pounds of 50 – 25 – 0 per acre 3 times a year after plants are 6 to 8 weeks old.
Weeds that are actively growing can be mowed/shredded while the site is establishing. Once the disturbed area is established, any weed management with herbicides should follow the herbicide label.