Determining an Appropriate Organic Matter Loading Rate for a Created Coastal Plain Forested Wetland
Bergschneider, Cara Renee
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Past research indicates that created non-tidal wetlands in the mid-Atlantic region are considerably lower in soil organic matter than native forested hydric soils. However, optimal loading rates for created wetland soil reconstruction have not been rigorously established. Our objective was to determine appropriate organic amendment loading rates for a Coastal Plain mitigation wetland based on 1) soil properties reflective of hydric soil development, 2) the formation of redoximorphic features, and 3) the growth and vigor of hydrophytic vegetation. The study contained wet (CCW-Wet) and dry (CCW-Dry) experiments, each receiving 6 compost treatments (0 Mg/ha untilled and 0, 56, 112, 224, and 336 Mg/ha tilled). Over the 1.5-year monitoring period, redox potential decreased and redoximorphic feature formation increased with compost loadings up to 112 Mg/ha. Surface bulk density decreased with loadings up to 224 Mg/ha, while no treatment differences were noted in sub-surface bulk density. In the CCW-Dry experiment, soil moisture peaked in the 224 Mg/ha treatment, while soil moisture in CCW-Wet increased consistently across all loadings. Total biomass in CCW-Wet and Betula nigra L. growth in both experiments increased with loading rate. Total biomass in CCW-Dry and Quercus palustris Muench. growth in both experiments peaked at 112 Mg/ha, although differences were not significant. Collectively, these findings indicate that 112 Mg/ha of high quality organic amendment was optimal for inducing hydric soil conditions and positive hydrophytic vegetation response. Incorporating compost at rates exceeding 112 Mg/ha is challenging and leads to higher surface elevations and redox levels in the initial growing season.
- Masters Theses