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Proceedings of Past Forest Nursery Association Meetings:

Mycorrhizal Fungi and Trees— A Successful Reforestation Alternative for Mineland Reclamation
Cordell, C.E. ; Mans, L.F. ; Marx, D.H.
2000: Kona, HI
Pisolithus tinctorius, VAM, restoration

Successful consistent revegetation of drastically disturbed mine sites (i.e., acid coal spoils and mineral waste dumps) throughout the United States and several foreign countries has been achieved by using the biological "tools"—tree seedlings, native shrubs, and grass species inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi. These trees and shrubs are custom-grown in bareroot and container nurseries with selected mycorrhizal fungi and grasses and forbs are inoculated in the field with pelletized spores of VAM fungi at the time of planting. On disturbed sites, specific mycorrhizae formed by Pisolithur tinctorius (PT), Scleroderma spp. (Sc), or species of VAM fungi provide significant benefits to the plants through increased water and nutrient absorption, decreased toxic materials absorption, and overall plant stress reduction.

One of the best examples of the practical application of this symbiotic mycorrhizal fungus-host tree technology on mined sites is in Ohio. During the past nineteen years, the Ohio Division of Mineland Reclamation—Abandoned Minelands Program (AML) has utilized the combination of selected ectomycorrhizal fungi (PT) and tree species in a successful reforestation project to significantly improve the effectiveness and reduce the cost of AML reclamation projects. Since 1982, over 5 million PT-inoculated pine and oak seedlings have been planted on over 3,000 acres of unreclaimed AML sites. The sites are highly acidic (pH 2.9 – 3.4) and no soil amendments are used. Tree survival has averaged over 85% in the PT-inoculated tree plantings with less than 5% tree failures as compared with less than 50% survival and over 75% failures in previous plantings with the same noninoculated tree species. From 1982 to 1999, the Ohio AML reforestation project with PT-inoculated trees has cost approximately $1.2 million or $388/acre. This represents an approximate 94% cost reduction as compared with conventional mineland reclamation methods ($6,000/acre). The PT seedling inoculation cost is only $35.00/acre or about 9% of the reforestation cost which is relatively minute when compared to the consistent tree survival and early growth benefits obtained on these highly disturbed stressful sites.

Similar mineland reclamation success has been obtained an high-altitude, arid mineral mine sites in the western United States using selected mycorrhizal fungi inoculated trees, shrubs, and grasses. Interest in the application of this natural, environmentally friendly technology to mineland reclamation programs throughout the United States and several foreign countries is expanding. This "total natural systems approach" to successful mineland revegetation is available through a team of scientific and business experts offered by PHC Reclamation, Inc.
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