Wildflower establishment on landfills in central and southwestern Virginia

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Virginia Tech


Municipal solid waste landfills are convenient means of disposing of society's waste; once closed, they become a liability to the community due to attributes which contribute to soil and water contamination. Regulations state that adequate vegetation be used to maintain the integrity of the soil trash cover. Alternatives to leaving a landfill derelict include establishing meadow-type communities that enrich floristic diversity while providing adequate cover to protect the soil cap over the trash.

In 1993, an experimental study was conducted at the Roanoke Regional Landfill where a mixture of native wildflowers and grasses and the standard revegetation mixture were sown on plots on varying aspects at the landfill. In 1993, the plots sown with the native mixture had a higher average species richness than the plots planted with the native mixture. Plots with the standard revegetation mixture had higher cover than plots planted with the native mixture.

In 1993 and 1994, an observational study was conducted at the Chancellorsville landfill in Spotsylvania county. Wildflowers had been seeded on part of the landfill in 1992. It was observed that the wildflower mixture decreased in species richness. The areas revegetated with the standard revegetation mixture had high richness due to the presence of invasive plants. Average cover over time was higher in areas planted with the standard revegetation mixture. Without regulations quantifying standards for aboveground cover, other methods should be implemented to determine to what extent revegetation mixtures are maintaining the integrity of a soil cap.