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The Effect of Biochar Amendment, Microbiome Inoculation, Crop Mixture and Planting Density on Post-Mining Restoration

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Ecological restoration with a multispecies and multifunctional approach can accelerate the re-establishment of numerous ecosystem services. The challenges with land that is degraded, damaged, or destroyed post-mining are the low productivity of soil and the high potential for contaminants. Herein, we evaluated the multispecies and multifunctional approach to restoration strategy through a mixture of woody and herbaceous species, microsymbiont and biochar amendments, and plant spacing. The experiments were conducted using greenhouse and field trials located in Quebec, Canada. We used a mixture of tree species (Alnus viridis (Chaix) DC. ssp. crispa (Aiton) Turrill, Picea glauca (Moench) Voss, Populus tremuloides Michx. and Salix arbusculoides Andersson) and herbaceous species (Avena sativa L., Festuca rubra L. and Trifolium repens L.) on two types of gold-mine waste materials (fine tailing and waste rock). The biochar amendment and microbial inoculation were applied on both greenhouse and field trials. We found both positive and negative effects of plant spacing, biochar amendment and inoculation depending on their interactions. The net positive effect was shown by combining high plantation density, biochar, and inoculation factors on Alnus viridis ssp. crispa. Overall, plantation density was shown to be the most important factor in generating the net positive effect. We suggest that the mechanism was correlated with the improvement in microclimate through soil plant water conservation and microbial activity enhancement over soil temperature modification. Hence, we propose to put emphasis on microclimate improvement for accelerating the restoration processes, along with other combined factors, including microbial inoculation and biochar amendment.

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