Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

Dual-function growth medium and structural soil for use as porous pavement


Permeable grass-covered surfaces can reduce the quantity of storm water runoff and filter out potentially harmful chemicals. The objective of this study was to develop permeable structural soils that sustained healthy turf growth and filtered heavy metals from contaminated pavement runoff. The basic soil medium was a 50:50 mixture (v/v) of expanded shale (ExSh) and quartz sand (QS). The ExSh component consisted of (i) large-diameter particles (3–6 mm), (ii) small-diameter particles (1–3 mm), or (iii) a 50:50 mixture (v/v) of the two. The basic blends were mixed with 0, 10, and 20% sphagnum peat moss (v/v) and 0, 10, and 20% natural zeolites (v/v) and placed in 15-cm-diameter pots in a greenhouse. Bermudagrass plugs were planted in each pot. The addition of sphagnum peat moss to the basic ExSh/QS blend increased bermudagrass growth and improved plant response to added fertilizer. Zeolites had no significant effect on plant growth in the absence of sphagnum peat moss. Growing mediums that contained 10 to 20% sphagnum peat moss and 10 to 20% zeolites consistently produced more bermudagrass biomass than the unamended ExSh/QS mixture. Changing the ratio of small- to large-diameter ExSh in the basic medium did not affect bermudagrass yield. Very low amounts of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn were recovered in leachate after the addition of 10 mg metal per pot, suggesting that most heavy metals (>99%) were retained in the growing mediums. Zeolites reduced the amount of Cd and Pb in leachate water, but not Cu or Zn.

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