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Background: Despite the key role topsoil plays in reclamation, there are situations where topsoil is in deficit or unavailable, especially at degraded and abandoned mine sites in Ghana. The sites pose serious ecological and safety risks, underscoring the urgent need to finding alternative substrate for restoration. This study investigated the feasibility of using amended-subsoil as topsoil substitute for reclamation. The hypothesis was that amendment of stockpiled-subsoil with poultry manure positively influences tree growth and ground vegetation cover (GVC), which promote better soil stabilization at degraded mine sites. A graded waste-rock dump was covered with a 70 cm layer of the stockpiled subsoil at Newmont Ghana Gold Limited. Two experimental plots (24 × 15 m) were established with the treatments poultry manure (PLM 23 t ha-1) and control (no PLM), followed by seeding of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and planting of potted-seedlings of five forest tree species. The Laser-point-quadrat method was used to estimate GVC, whereas erosion was visually observed. Diameter and height data of planted trees and surviving numbers were collected.
Results: There was significant increase in tree growth and in GVC for the poultry manure treatment compared to the control. The manure provided sufficient nitrogen to overcome nitrogen deficiency and facilitated quicker and stronger vegetation growth that yielded superior soil stabilization.
Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the potential of manure application in promoting successful restoration of the many degraded and abandoned mine sites in Ghana to productive uses.
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