Availability and management of manganese and water in bauxite residue revegetation

Mark James Gherardi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

[Truncated abstract] Industrial processing to refine alumina from bauxite ore produces millions of tonnes of refining residue each year in Australia. Revegetation of bauxite residue sand (BRS) is problematic for a number of reasons. Harsh chemical conditions caused by residual NaOH from ore digestion mean plants must overcome extremely high pH (initially >12), saline and sodic conditions. At such high pH, manganese (Mn) is rapidly oxidised from Mn2+ to Mn4+. Plants can take up only Mn2+. Thus, Mn deficiency is common in plants used for direct BRS revegetation, and broadcast Mn fertilisers have low residual value. Added to this, physical conditions of low water-holding capacity and a highly compactable structure make BRS unfavourable for productive plant growth without constant and large inputs of water as well as Mn. However, environmental regulations stipulate that the residue disposal area at Pinjarra, Western Australia, be revegetated to conform with surrounding land uses. The major land use of the area is pasture for grazing stock. Hence, pasture revegetation with minimum requirement for fertiliser and water application is desirable. This thesis investigates a number of avenues with potential for maintaining a productive pasture system on BRS whilst reducing the current level of Mn fertiliser and irrigation input. Emphasis was placed on elucidation of chemical and physical factors affecting Mn availability to plants in BRS
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004

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