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Applied and Environmental Soil Science
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 907831, 11 pages
Research Article

Impact of Waste Materials and Organic Amendments on Soil Properties and Vegetative Performance

Department of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-2203, USA

Received 1 June 2011; Accepted 20 October 2011

Academic Editor: Horea Cacovean

Copyright © 2012 Steven L. McGeehan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Waste materials, and materials derived from wastes, possess many characteristics that can improve soil fertility and enhance crop performance. These materials can be particularly useful as amendments to severely degraded soils associated with mining activities. This study evaluated biosolids, composts, log yard wastes, and two organic soil treatments for improved soil fertility and vegetative performance using side-by-side comparisons. Each plot was seeded with a standardized seed mix and evaluated for a series of soil chemical and physical parameters, total vegetation response, species diversity, ecological plant response, and invasion indices. All treatments were successful at improving soil fertility and promoting a self-sustaining vegetative cover. The level of available nitrogen had a strong impact on vegetative coverage, species distribution, and extent of unseeded vegetation. For example, high nitrogen treatments promoted a grass-dominated (low forb) plant community with a low content of unseeded vegetation. In contrast, low nitrogen treatments promoted a more balanced plant community with a mixture of grass and forb species and greater susceptibility to unseeded vegetation establishment.