Responses of Lolium perenne and Agrostis tenuis to phosphate and other nutritional factors in the reclamation of colliery shale

  • Published source details Fitter A.H. & Bradshaw A.D. (1974) Responses of Lolium perenne and Agrostis tenuis to phosphate and other nutritional factors in the reclamation of colliery shale. Journal of Applied Ecology, 11, 597-608.


There is little information on the nutrient status of colliery shales in Britain but a knowledge of nutritional factors is important when attempting revegetation of such sites, in addition to other such factors as acidification. This study carried out in south Lancashire (northwest England), investigated responses of perennial rye-grass Lolium perenne and common bent Agrostis tenuis to fertilizer and limestone addition on acidic colliery shale.

Experiments were conducted on plots set up on five colliery shale spoil sites. A split-plot factorial experiment (two levels of N, P, K, and limestone addition) was undertaken, using L.perenne (S. 23 cultivar) and A.tenuis (American Highland) as test species.

The experiment was repeated in 12.5-cm diameter pots in a glasshouse (L.perenne only); fertilizer was applied to the spoil surface. In the field rates N, P, K applied were quivalent to 5 and 50 kg/ha, and in the glasshouse 2.5 and 25 kg/ha. Limestone (in designated plots) was applied at 12.5 t/ha.

Field plots were planted in April 1970, immediately before a very dry spell. No growth occurred until June. Plots were harvested in September to measure aboveground biomass production. For the pot experiment, shale was collected and planting undertaken in June 1970, with harvesting 9 weeks later. Additonal experiments investigating the phosphorus requirements of Lolium and Agrostis (the amount required for maximum yield) were determined in pots and field plots.

In the five colliery shales, P was found to be deficient in all cases (a situation also apparent in many natural soils).
Contrary to expections, grass growth was not always enhanced by nitrogen addition, suggesting that the shortage of phosphate was primary nutrient affiliated factor regulating grass establishment .


Note: The compilation and addition of this summary was funded by the Journal of Applied Ecology (BES). If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper, this can be viewed at:

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