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Plant & Soil Sciences
Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
mitigation wetlands, wetland soils, organic amendments for mitigation wetlands, nonpoint source pollution
PHYSIO-CHEMICAL EVALUATION AND FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT
OF NATIVE WETLAND SOILS AND ORGANIC AMENDMENTS
FOR FRESHWATER MITIGATION WETLANDS
EMILY K.D. STOCKMAN, B.S., UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST
M.S., UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST
Directed by: Dr. Peter Veneman
Due to the history of wetland loss within the United States a National “No Net Loss” policy was adopted in 1988. This policy requires the creation of mitigation wetlands to replace lost and/or damaged natural wetlands. The role of soil in natural wetland systems is key in providing a number of ecology functions, such as the supply of wetland plant nutrients and the retention of nonpoint source pollutants. Nonetheless, Federal and Massachusetts guidelines regarding the creation of soil and the utilization of organic amendments in mitigation wetlands lack specific parameters and thresholds. This research compares the chemical and physical properties of two commercially available composts and two natural wetland soils and evaluates these materials as possible pollutant sources and sinks.
The results of the characterization study demonstrate significant differences between the compost samples and the wetland soils in regards to the following properties: organic matter content, pH, polarity, total nutrients (P, K, B, Zn, Fe, Al, Cd, Ni, Cr) and extractable nutrients (P, K, Ca, B, Mn). These physio-chemical properties influence the functions of supplying plant nutrients and retaining nonpoint source pollutants such as excessive nutrients and herbicides. The results of the nutrient release studies indicate that the compost samples behave as potential sources of excessive levels of phosphorus and nitrate. In addition, the pollutant retention studies concluded that the compost samples sorbed lower amounts of phosphorus under aerobic conditions and lower amounts of the commonly-used herbicide, 2,4-D, as compared to the wetland soils.
Overall, the differences in both physio-chemical properties and the behavior of the composts as compared with the wetlands soils as well as each other, substantiate the necessity to re-evaluate Federal and Massachusetts guidelines pertaining to mitigation wetland soil and amendments. Based on the results of this study the following minimal analyses are recommended: organic matter content, pH, total nutrients and extractable nutrients. In addition, based on the phosphorus release and retention studies the following thresholds are recommended to prohibit the release of excessive levels of phosphorus into the mitigation wetland and adjacent aquatic systems: Morgan’s extractable P content ≤ 25 mg kg-1 and/or the total P content ≤ 1286 mg kg-1.