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Plant and Soil

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 227–237 | Cite as

Alfalfa,Medicago sativa L., establishment in mine mill tailings

I. Plant analysis of alfalfa grown on iron and copper tailings
  • S. G. Shetron
Article

Summary

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) cv. Vernal, was established in iron and copper tailings, a mine waste, to observe its growth and development. In tailings, organic matter and nitrogen are essentially nonexistent, phosphorus levels are low (2–4 kg/ha), potassium, calcium, magnesium and metals range in availability, have alkaline pH (7.2–8.3) and low cation exchange capacity (1.03–3.97 meq/100 g).

Alfalfa plants were selected in four year old stands for plant analysis pof whole tops and roots. Levels of nitrogen (2.00–2.56% ash), phosphorus (.16–22% ash) and magnesium (.17%–48% ash) in whole tops were considered in a deficiency range. Potassium and calcium levels were sufficient. Levels of metals in whole tops varied with concentrations in the tailings. The highest metal concentration was iron which ranged from a low in whole tops of 961 ppm in tailings having 1925 ppm, to a high of 5347 ppm in tailings with 2562 ppm. Geneally, metal concentrations were higher in roots whereas nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus lower than whole tops.

Key words

Alfalfa Copper tailings Iron tailings Medicago sativa Mineral content Mine wastes Plant analysis 

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Copyright information

© Martinu Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. G. Shetron
    • 1
  1. 1.Ford Forestry CenterMichigan Technological UniversityL'Anse

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