In mined land rehabilitation, the topsoil plays a very important role not only as a growth medium for plants but also a bank for indigenous plant seeds. However, because most topsoils are stockpiled for longer periods during mineral exploitation, their physical, chemical and biological properties may be altered by the time of rehabilitation. This results in soil nutrient depletion, soil degradation and lack of topsoil which are issue of great concern for most mining companies during disturbed mine site reclamation.  It is therefore important to amend disturbed minesoils to provide alternatives topsoil substitute for successful mine rehabilitation. In the light of the recent global concern for biodiversity loss and climate change, most human efforts have been aligned towards climate change mitigation and biodiversity enhancement including rehabilitation of degraded lands. Biochar has proven to be of great potential in disturbed soil amendment and climate change mitigation since apart from restoring soil nutrients, biological properties, stability and reducing heavy metal concentration also returns large amounts of carbon in plant biomass to the soil. This study therefore seeks to explore the potential of biochar produced from Bambusa vulgaris (a readily available local resource in the study area) for soil amendment and floristic diversity promotion at the Yongwa quarry site.

Final comments

It may be argued by other researchers and academicians that, the results of this project may not be applicable on a large scale due to the large quantities of biochar that will be needed for mine rehabilitation. However, this argument may not hold in Africa due to the availability of large quantities of waste materials such as saw dust, sawmill offcuts, coconut shells etc. which are becoming a nuisance in Ghana. Also the positive results of the amendments despite the low application rates...

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19Sep

Final project evaluation by the national jury

On the 31st of August, the national jury visited the site for the final project evaluation. In a plenary session the team led by the team leader explained the various processes in the research, community and institutional engagements and results. The jury members were later taken to the experimental plot to see the work on the grounds. The field evaluation ended with a visit to the demonstration plot to observe the effect of biochar on the growth performance on the planted crops. The jury and...

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18Sep

Added Value for Biodiversity, Society and Company

• The biochar will provide an alternative soil amendment for soil nutrient recovery and biodiversity promotion at the quarry during future rehabilitation exercises by the company. • The biochar can be produced from readily available local waste materials like sawdust, sawmill offcuts, coconut shell and husk etc. which will help reduce the cost invested into soil amendment by Ghacem in future rehabilitation exercises. • The biochar used in the soil amendments will help Ghacem to contribute its...

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17Sep

Recommendations

• Despite the obvious variations in the diversity of species from the studied plots within this short period (6 months), it will be necessary to continue this study over a longer period to better appreciate the potential of biochar in rehabilitation as our field monitoring revealed variations among the species with time. • Biochar could be added to the topsoil before stockpiling to halt any likely compromise of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the topsoil and where topsoil is...

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16Sep

Conclusions

• The results of the study has proven the potential of biochar for improving the nutrient status of both stockpiled topsoil and the quarry waste even at low application rates (5t/ha). • It has further proven the potential of biochar for plant diversity promotion with native plant dominance. • The results of the community demonstration plot also proves the potential of biochar to better improve agricultural productivity when applied per hill compared to spreading and the control. • The social...

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15Sep

Social Survey

After decommissioning the demonstration plots, a simple random sampling technique was used to select 40 farmers (20 each from Oborpah and Bueyonyeh) among the community members engaged in the trainings and demonstration plots establishment for a social survey. According to the respondents, the major challenges with their farming activity include high cost of fertilizer (69 %), pest and disease infestation (26 %) and high cost of labour (5 %). All the respondents (100 %) in the survey were only...

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14Sep

Nutrient status of stockpiled topsoil and quarry waste amended soils

In the stockpiled topsoil amended plots, significantly higher soil pH was recorded for the control (8.2 ± 0.02) and biochar amended soil (8.3 ± 0.01) compared to the other soils. The lowest soil pH value (7.2 ± 0.07) was recorded in the combined amended soil (TS+B+PM). Soil organic carbon levels were significantly higher (1.23 ±0.20) in the combined amended soil (TS+B+PM) compared to the other soils. The control plot recorded the lowest organic carbon level (0.51 ±0.04). Though no significant...

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14Sep

Diversity indices of naturally regenerated plant species on the stockpiled topsoil and quarry waste

The highest Shannon index (2.04) was recorded on the combined biochar and poultry manure amended plots (TS+BP+M) while the lowest (1.08) was recorded on the control plot. Simpson index values of 0.78, 0.76 and 0.68 were recorded for the combined amended (TS+BP+M), poultry manure and biochar amended plots respectively. The lowest Simpson index value (0.25) was recorded on the control plot. Also the combined amended plots (TS+BP+M) recorded the highest effective number of species (7.66) compared...

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13Sep

Naturally regenerated plant species composition on the quarry waste amended plots

A total count of 295 naturally regenerated species distributed over 8 species and 6 families were identified on the quarry waste amended plots. The plots amended with biochar recorded the highest number of species (8) while the poultry manure amended plots recorded equal number of species (4 species each) with the control plot. The study also observed 5 native, 1 non-native and 2 Invasive alien species on the experimental plots. However, the most dominant species on the plots was Megathyrsus...

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12Sep

Naturally regenerated plant species composition on the stockpiled topsoil amended plots

A total count of 388 naturally regenerated species distributed over 19 species and 12 families were identified on the stockpiled topsoil amended plots (Table 1). The highest number of species (16) was recorded on the plots with combined biochar and poultry manure (TS + B + PM) and the lowest (5) recorded on the control plot. The study also observed 7 native, 8 non-native and 4 Invasive alien species on the experimental plots. However, the most dominant species on the plots was Megathyrsus...

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11Sep

Monitoring of demonstration plot

The team after three weeks of demonstration plot establishment visited the site to monitor the growth performance of the crops plated.

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10Sep

Field visit

In our recent visit to the field we observed that one of the communities we trained in biochar application and handed a reference material had hanged the material in a tree in the center of the community. We also observed that some farmers in the community were making reference to the material.

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07Sep

Soil sampling and laboratory analysis

In each established plot for the experiment, soil samples were collected at a depth of 0-15cm. Samples collected were sent to the laboratory of the soil research institute for analysis. The samples were analyzed for N, P, K as well as SOC and pH.

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04Sep

Data collection

The team after 6 month of experimental plot establishment visited the plot to monitor the progress of the experiment and to collect floristic diversity data.

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01Sep

Data collection

The team after 6 month of experimental plot establishment visited the plot to monitor the progress of the experiment and to collect floristic diversity data.

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01Sep

Concept note for farmers training

The team after the training and establishment of demonstration plots presented a concept note to be used as a reference material for farmers in the next planting season and the seasons ahead.

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20Aug

Establishment of demonstration plot

Two demonstration plots were established in this study in the communities (Oborpah and Bueyonyeh) where the trainings were conducted using the biochar produced in the training.

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28Jul

Community training

The team in an attempt to build the capacity of the fringe communities to ensure their active participation in the future rehabilitation of the quarry and also reduce poverty organized two(2) community training exercises in Oborpah and Bueyonyeh as agreed in the stakeholder consultation and community education exercise.

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13Jul

Stakeholder Consultation and Community Education

In order to engage the major stakeholders to ensure maximum participation and benefits from the project, two Stakeholder consultation meetings were held in two of the closest fringe communities to the quarry (Oborpah and Bueyonyeh). In attendance in the meeting were chiefs, elders, assemblymen, staff of the forestry commission, staff of the quarry, staff of the ministry of food and agriculture and community members.

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16Jun

Randomization and amendment application

After the lay out of the experimental plots, the team used the lottery method to select without replacement the various treatments to be applied to the experimental plots.

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13Jun

Measuring of amendments.

The amendments used in the experiment were measured using the top pan balance after converting the application rate to kilogram. Before the measurement, the top pan was placed on the balance and the needle of the calibration adjusted to the zero mark. The biochar was then added to the pan until the required weight (5kg) was achieved. The measured biochar was then added to a samples of stockpiled soil and quarry dust and spread over the experimental plot.

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09Jun

Layout of Experimental Plot

Pegs were used to divide the experimental plots into three blocks. Each blocks was divided into Eight (8) 2 x 2 m plots with a distance of 0.5 m between the plots and blocks. Plot labels were then fixed on every plot to clearly indicate the differences between the plots.

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05Jun

Cutting of bamboo and poles for experimental plot layout

In our recent visit to the team cut some pegs and bamboo for the lay out of the experimental plots. The poles for the pegs preparation was obtained from a nearby forest within the quarry. These poles were cut into smaller pieces and tapered at one end for firm fixing to the ground. The bamboo was also cut in to 2 m pieces to demarcate the boundaries of each plot.

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20May

Clearing of site for experiment

The team in our recent visit to the quarry identified a suitable site for the establishment of our experimental plot.

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08Mar

Biochar production

The team used the gathered dried bamboo sticks to produce biochar for soil amendment.

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19Feb

Building of steel drum biochar reactor

The team used a 55 gallons steel drum to build a biochar reactor for biochar production for the project.

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14Feb

Preperation of materials for biochar production and sterilization of poultry manure

The team gathered some dried and waste bamboo for the production of the biochar.

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13Feb

Stakeholder consultation and project resources mobilization

The team in a reconnaissance survey to the study area organized a stakeholder consultation exercise to seek the views of the various stakeholders before the project implementation. The team also took advantage of the visit to identify and mobilize various local resources that may be needed for the study.

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12Feb

Profile of team member

Profile of Mr. Dennis Dei-Kusi, a member of the research team for this project.

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25Jan

Presentation of research proposal before national jury and other participants.

The team was represented by the team leader in Accra on the 19th of January, 2018 at the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies of the University of Ghana to present the project proposal before the national jury and other participants.

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23Jan

Signing of data protection information and consent agreement and safety briefing

The team was represented by the leader (Mr Daniel Adusu) in Accra to sign the data protection information and consent agreement.

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23Jan