In the Indian desert, the economics of mining is second only to agriculture in importance. However, research on the rehabilitation of land disturbed by mining has only recently received serious attention. An attempt has been made to determine both the qualitative and quantitative success of rehabilitation plans used to revegetate limestone mine spoils in an area near Barna, northwest arid India. Rehabilitation success was achieved using a combination of rainwater harvesting techniques, soil amendment application approaches, plant establishment methods and the selection of appropriate germplasm material (trees, shrubs and grasses). It is expected that the resulting vegetative cover will be capable of self-perpetuation under natural conditions while at the same time meeting the land-use needs of the local people. The minespoils have adequate levels of the major nutrients (except P, Mo and Se) for proper plant and grazing animal health. Levels of organic matter are low whereas total B concentrations are exceptionally high. Also, the population of soil fungi, Azotobactor, and nitrifying bacteria is negligible. Enhanced plant growth was achieved in treated plots, compared to control plots, where spoil moisture storage was improved by 5-45 per cent. Due to the decomposition of farmyard manure and nitrogen fixation by planted leguminous plant species, the electrical conductance of treated mine spoils increased threefold, CaCO3 content decreased from 20??0 to 5??2 per cent, and organic carbon, P, K, and biological activity increased significantly. The rehabilitation protocol used at the site appears to have been successful because plant self-regeneration is occurring. The increased diversity of woody perennials resulted in 'dominance' being better shared among species and 'evenness' being increased within the plant community elements. The early to mid-successional trends are continuing for six years following initial rehabilitation. This study developed methods for the rehabilitation of lands mined for limestone and has also resulted in an understanding of rehabilitation processes in arid regions with an emphasis on the long-term monitoring of rehabilitation success. Copyright ?? 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Rehabilitation of lands mined for limestone in the Indian desert