Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 223–232 | Cite as

Organic amendment effects on crop productivity and nutrient uptake on reclaimed natural gas wellsites

  • Francis Zvomuya
  • Francis J. Larney
  • Paul R. DeMaere
  • Andrew F. Olson
Research Article


Restoration of productivity on agricultural soils disturbed by industrial activity is important for agronomic and environmental reasons. Because of the role of organic matter in soil health and quality, organic amendments have been widely used in the reclamation of disturbed soils such as those on abandoned oil and natural gas wellsites. This study examined the effects of one-time applications of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) hay or beef cattle (Bos taurus) feedlot manure compost on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield and nutrient uptake on two abandoned natural gas wellsites that had recently been reclaimed in southern Alberta, Canada. The base amendment rate (1×) [dry wt.] was 5.3 Mg ha−1 for compost and 3.1 Mg ha−1 for alfalfa. The five treatment amendment rates of 0, 1×, 2×, 4×, and 8× were soil-incorporated at the wellsites. Yields and plant nutrient uptake were generally higher at Hussar than at Turin, reflecting the higher inherent fertility of the soil at Hussar. Grain yields were similar for alfalfa and compost amendments, indicating that either amendment can be used depending on availability and/or transportation costs. Our results show that spring wheat yields on these reclaimed soils can be optimized at alfalfa and compost rates of no more than 6 and 10 Mg ha−1, respectively. Continued monitoring of crop productivity and soil properties may provide insight into the long-term benefits of alfalfa and compost amendments in wellsite reclamation schemes.


Crop productivity Nutrient uptake Organic amendments Reclamation Spring wheat Wellsite 



Harvest index


Nitrogen harvest index


Phosphorus harvest index


Total nitrogen


Total phosphorus



Funding for this project from EnCana Corporation, Calgary, Alberta and the Matching Investment Initiative of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is gratefully acknowledged. The contributions of Brian Handerek, Clarence Gilbertson, Bonnie Tovell, Wayne McKean, Harvey Dyck, Frank Megella and Rodney Volk toward field and laboratory work are much appreciated. Particular thanks are due to landowners, The Hutterian Brethren of Turin and Glen Muller for their cooperation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis Zvomuya
    • 1
  • Francis J. Larney
    • 1
  • Paul R. DeMaere
    • 1
  • Andrew F. Olson
    • 1
  1. 1.Lethbridge Research CentreAgriculture and Agri-Food CanadaLethbridgeCanada

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