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Open Access Seed germination in tailings cake and cake-reclamation substrate mixtures with oil sands process water

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We investigated the germination of 13 species commonly used in oil sands mining reclamation of boreal forest as influenced by substrate type (potting soil, tailings cake and mixtures of cake-sand, cake-peat and cake-forest floor mineral mix (FFMM)) and water quality (0, 50 and 100% oil sands process water). Germination responses clustered into three groups with trees and graminoids exhibiting the highest germination (84-99%), followed by shrubs and forbs with intermediate germination (46-69%), and the native forb species, Chamerion angustifolium, Achillea millefolium and Galium boreale, with the lowest germination (7-18%). Among substrates, potting soil supported the highest germination (69%), followed by cake mixed with peat (64%) or FFMM (63%), cakesand (60%) and cake (57%). Concentrations of ions, e.g.sodium and chloride, were higher in cake and cakesand than in cake-peat or cake-FFMM suggesting that mixing cake with FFMM or peat can alleviate salt stress and encourage germination. Process water had little or no effect on germination especially on cake and cake amendments possibly due to the high ionic content of these substrates. There were major differences in germination response among species. Trees and graminoids may be well suited for reclaiming oil sands tailings whereas native forbs may perform poorly when used for revegetating tailings.

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Keywords: LAND RECLAMATION; OIL SANDS; PROCESS WATER; SEED GERMINATION; TAILINGS CAKE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2019

This article was made available online on December 9, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Seed germination in tailings cake and cake-reclamation substrate mixtures with oil sands process water".

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  • Seed Science and Technology (SST) is one of the leading international journals featuring original papers and review articles on seed quality and physiology as related to seed production, harvest, processing, sampling, storage, distribution and testing. This widely recognised journal is designed to meet the needs of researchers, advisers and all those involved in the improvement and technical control of seed quality.
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