Soil microbial activity in opencast coal mine restorations

  • Harris J
  • Birch P
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Abstract. Experiments on the effects of stockpiling soil on an opencast coal mine in Derbyshire showed that there were significant changes in the microbial community. Numbers of aerobic bacteria in stored soils ranged from 0.5 to 12.8 ± 107 colony‐forming‐units (CFU)g‐1 with the smallest values being in the deepest parts of the oldest stores, whereas an adjacent undisturbed soil contained 6.6 ± 107 CFU g‐1. There was a greater effect on the numbers of fungal spores, which ranged from 0.1 to 6.7 ± 105 CFU g‐1 soil, all less than the 10 ± 105 CFU g‐1 recorded for the undisturbed control soil. The number of fungal spores in the deepest part of the older soil stores was only 1/100 of the number in the undisturbed soil. This was mirrored by the biomass values, as determined by adenosine triphosphate (ATP) assay. Values of ATP ranged from 0.38 to 13.13 nmol g‐1 as compared to 5.8 nmol g‐1 in the undisturbed soil. All three of these microbiological properties decreased in value with both age and depth of storage. Neither anaerobic nor spore‐forming bacterial numbers were greatly affected by storage. The pH values tended toward neutrality in the deeper parts of the soil stores, and there was less organic matter in the older stores. Copyright © 1989, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

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