Use of Organic Matter Amendments in Wetland Mitigation: Field and Lab Studies

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Brian Scott , Dr. Andrew Baldwin, Dr. Stephanie Yarwood

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Mitigation and restoration projects generate new wetlands, which are internationally protected by the Ramsar Convention and a no-net-loss policy in the United States. Although worldwide losses have slowed, turnover rates continue to be high. Studies show that new wetlands often differ in structure and function from the natural wetlands they are replacing. Organic matter amendments are often used, in some cases required, in wetland construction projects. We are evaluating various doses of five organic amendments: composted yard waste, wood mulch, manure, biosolids and hay. We have established a total of 44 plots and are monitoring the effect on hydric soil indicators using the three standard methods: Eh/pH; α- α dipyridyl and IRIS (Indicators of Reduction in Soils) films. We are also monitoring biogenic gas production as well as other parameters. Early indications show that organic matter amendments do not affect the development of hydric soil conditions. Hydric conditions develop in response to hydrology only. The organic amendments however did show other benefits, including the relief of soil crusting that was preventing new shoot growth. Early indications suggest some amendments may significantly increase methane and nitrous oxide emissions. There are many objectives in site mitigation, so recommending a particular strategy such as organic matter soil amendments may depend on the desired outcome. Using results from our field study, and a companion lab study, we highlight some of the potential benefits and pitfalls of using organic amendments to restore wetlands.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program