Noabur, MR, Kimaro, AA: Schoenau, JJ & Salifu, KF 2013, 'Response of aspen and white spruce seedlings to fertilisation on a reconstructed oil sands site in Alberta, Canada', in M Tibbett, AB Fourie & C Digby (eds), Mine Closure 2013: Proceedings of the Eighth International Seminar on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Cornwall, pp. 377-388, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1352_31_Noabur
Every year, oil sands mining in Alberta, Canada, results in a significant area of degraded land, which needs to be reclaimed. One of the sustainable reclamation strategies for a post-mining site is reforestation. In reconstructed mine sites, establishment of mixedwood boreal tree seedlings like trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx) and white spruce (Picea glauca) along with ground cover is helpful to stabilise soil, minimise erosion and promote native vegetation restoration. Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and oats (Avena sativa) are the ground cover species that have been recommended for oil sands reclamation operations, but interactions of planted tree seedlings with ground cover and the growth response to fertilisation are not clearly understood. This study evaluated the effect of different rates of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertiliser on the survival and growth of tree seedlings that were planted without and with barley and oats as ground cover. A lower survival rate was recorded for trembling aspen in response to N,P,K fertilisation. Trembling aspen was more sensitive than white spruce to ground cover competition and was negatively affected by barley and oats, especially with added fertiliser. Height, root collar diameter increment and root and shoot biomass yield of trembling aspen were significantly decreased when planted with ground cover, whereas white spruce was not affected. In general, adding fertiliser to these systems appears to be of very little benefit in enhancing the early establishment and growth of tree seedlings.
Alberta Environment and Water (2012) Best Management Practices for Conservation of Reclamation Materials in the Mineable Oil Sands Region of Alberta, prepared by D. MacKenzie for the Terrestrial Subgroup, Best Management Practices Task Group of the Reclamation Working Group of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Archibold, O.W., Acton, C. and Ripley, E.A. (2000) Effect of site preparation on soil properties and vegetation cover, and the growth and survival of white spruce (Picea glauca) seedlings, in Saskatchewan, Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 31, pp. 127–141.
Ashby, W.C. (1997) Soil ripping and herbicides enhance tree and shrub restoration on stripmines, Restoration Ecology, Vol. 5, pp. 169–177.
Brockley, R.P. (1988) The Effects of Fertilization on the Early Growth of Planted Seedlings: A Problem Analysis, Forest Canada and British Columbia Ministry of Forest Research Br., FRDA Report 011, Victoria, B.C.
Casselman, C.N., Fox, T.R., Burger, J.A., Jones, A.T. and John, G.M. (2006) Effects of silvicultural treatments on survival and growth of trees planted on reclaimed mine lands in the Appalachians, Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 223, pp. 403–414.
Environment Canada (2013) Canadian Climate Normals 1971–2000, Fort McMurray Airport Alberta, viewed 15 April 2013,
Fung, M.Y.P. and Macyk, T.M. (2000) Reclamation of oil sands mining areas, in Reclamation of Drastically Disturbed Lands, R.I. Barnhisel, R.G. Darmody and W.L. Daniels (eds), 2nd ed., American Society of Agronomy, Agronomy Series No. 41, pp. 755–774.
Government of Alberta (2011) Oil Sands Reclamation, viewed 15 September 2011,
Grimmett, M. and Kowalenko, C.G. (2007) Chemical characterization of sulfur, in Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, M.R. Carter and E.G. Gregorich (eds), 2nd edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, pp. 173–178.
Harrington, T.B. (2006) Five-year growth responses of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western redcedar seedlings to manipulated levels of overstory and understory competition, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 36, pp. 2,439–2,453.
Hendershot, W.H., Lalande , H. and Duquette, M. (2007a) Soil reaction and exchangeable acidity, in Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, M.R. Carter and E.G. Gregorich (eds), 2nd edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, pp. 173–178.
Hendershot, W.H., Lalande, H. and Duquette, M. (2007b) Ion exchange and exchangeable cations, in Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, M.R. Carter and E.G. Gregorich (eds), 2nd edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla., pp. 197–206.
Huang, W.Z. and Schoenau, J.J. (1997) Seasonal and spatial variations in soil nitrogen and phosphorus supply rates in a boreal aspen forest, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 77, pp. 597–612.
Keeney, D.R. and Nelson, D.W. (1982) Nitrogen-inorganic forms, in Methods of Soil Analysis, A.L. Page, R.H. Miller and D.R. Keeney (eds), 2nd ed., American Society of Agronomy, Madison, Wisc., pp. 643–698.
Khasa, D.P., Fung, M. and Logan, B. (2005) Early growth response of container-grown selected woody boreal seedlings in amended composite tailings and tailings sand, Bioresource Technology, Vol. 96, pp. 857–864.
Kronzucker, H.J., Siddiqi, M.H. and Glass, A.D.M. (1997) Conifer root discrimination against soil nitrate and the ecology of forest succession, Nature, Vol. 385, pp. 59–61.
Lavoie, N., Vezina, L.P. and Margolis, H.A. (1992) Absorption and assimilation of nitrate and ammonium ions by Jack pine seedlings, Tree Physiology, Vol. 11, pp. 171–183.
Lazorko, H. and Van Rees, K.C.J. (2012) Root distributions of planted boreal mixedwood species on reclaimed saline–sodic overburden, Water Air and Soil Pollution, Vol. 223, pp. 215–231.
LECO© Corporation (1987) viewed 24 July 2013,
Lieffers, V.J. and Beck, J.A. (1994) A semi-natural approach to mixedwood management in the prairie provinces, Forest Chronicle, Vol. 70, pp. 260–264.
Lilles, E.B., Purdy, B.G., Chang, S.X. and Macdonald, S.E. (2010) Soil and ground water characteristics of saline sites supporting boreal mixedwood forests in northern Alberta, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 90, pp. 1–14.
Lilles, E.B., Purdy, B.G., Macdonald, S.E. and Chang, S.X. (2012) Growth of aspen and white spruce on naturally saline sites in northern Alberta: implications for development of boreal forest vegetation on reclaimed saline soils, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 92, pp. 213–227.
Miller, J.J. and Curtin, D. (2007) Electrical conductivity and soluble ions, in Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, M.R. Carter and E.G. Gregorich (eds), 2nd edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla., pp. 161–164.
Moffat, A.J. (2004) Reclaimation of mining lands, In Encyclopedia of Forest Sciences, pp. 1,078–1,085.
Nadelhoffer, K.J., Aber, J.D. and Melillo, J.M. (1984) Seasonal patterns of ammonium and nitrate uptake in nine temperate forest ecosystems, Plant and Soil, Vol. 80, pp. 321–335.
Peterson, E.B. and Petersen, N.M. (1992) Ecology, Management, and Use of Aspen and Balsam Poplar in the Prairie Provinces, Canada, Special Report 1, Forestry Canada, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, 252 p.
Pinno, B.D., Landhäusser, S.M., MacKenzie, M.D., Quideau, S.A. and Chow, P.S. (2012) Trembling aspen seedling establishment, growth and response to fertilization on contrasting soils used in oil sands reclamation, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 92, pp. 143–151.
Qian, P., Schoenau, J.J. and Ziadi, N. (2007) Ion supply rate using ion-exchange resins, in Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, M.R. Carter and E.G. Gregorich (eds), 2nd edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp. 137–140.
Qian, P., Schoenau, J.J. and Karamanos, R.E. (1994) Simultaneous extraction of available phosphorus and potassium with a new soil test-a modification of Kelowna extraction, Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, Vol. 25, pp. 627–635.
Renault, S., Qualizza, C. and MacKinnon, M.C. (2004) Suitability of altai wildrye (Elymus angustus) and slender wheatgrass (Agropyron trachycaulum) for initial reclamation of saline composite tailings of oil sands, Environmental Pollution, Vol. 128, pp. 339–349.
Rose, R. and Ketchum, J.S. (2002) Interaction of vegetation control and fertilization on conifer species across the Pacific Northwest, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 32, pp. 136–152.
Rowland, S.M., Prescott, C.E., Grayston, S.J., Quideau, S.A. and Bradfield, G.E. (2009) Recreating a functioning forest soil in reclaimed oil sands in northern Alberta: an approach for measuring success in ecological restoration, Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 38, pp. 1580–1590.
SAS Institute, Inc. (2010) SAS 9.2 Intelligence Platform: Application Server Administration Guide, Cary, N. Car.
Sheoran, V., Sheoran, A.S. and Poonia, P. (2010) Soil reclamation of abandoned mine land by revegetation: a review, International Journal of Soil, Sediment and Water, Vol. 3(2), Article 13.
Skjemstad, J.O. and Baldock, J.A. (2007) Total and organic carbon, in Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, M.R. Carter and E.G. Gregorich (eds), 2nd edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla., pp. 225–227.
Strong, W.L. and La Roi, G.H. (1985) Root density–soil relationships in selected boreal forests of central Alberta Canada, Forest Ecology and Management, Vol. 12, pp. 233–251.
Strong, W.L. and La Roi, G.H. (1983) Root-system morphology of common boreal forest trees in Alberta, Canada, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 13, pp. 1,164–1,173.
Suncor Energy (Suncor) (2008) Annual Conservation and Reclamation Report, Closure Planning and Reclamation, p. 124.
Thomas, R.L., Sheard, R.W. and Moyer, J.R. (1967) Comparison of conventional and automated procedures for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium analysis of plant material using a single digestion, Agronomy Journal, Vol. 59, pp. 240−248.
Torbert, J.L., Tuladhar, A.R., Burger, J.A. and Bell, J.C. (1988) Minesoil property effects on the height of ten-year-old white pine, Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 17, pp. 189–192.
Torbert, J.L., Burger, J.A. and Daniels, W.L. (1990) Pine growth variation associated with overburden rock type on a reclaimed surface mine in Virginia, Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 19, pp. 88–92.
Turcotte, I., Quideau, S.A. and Oh, S.W. (2009) Organic matter quality in reclaimed boreal forest soils following oil sands mining, Organic Geochemistry, Vol. 40, pp. 510–519.
Van Cleve, K., Oliver, L., Schlentner, R., Viereck, L.A. and Dyrness, C.T. (1983) Productivity and nutrient cycling in a taiga forest ecosystem, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Vol. 13, pp. 747–766.
van den Driessche, R. (1988) Response of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) to some different fertilizers applied at planting, New Forest, Vol. 2, pp. 89–110.
van den Driessche, R., Rude, W. and Martens, L. (2003) Effect of fertilization and irrigation on growth of aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) seedlings over three seasons, Forest Ecology Management, Vol. 186, pp. 381–389.
Yao, B., Cao, J., Zhao, C. and Rengel, Z. (2011) Influence of ammonium and nitrate supply on growth, nitrate reductase activity and N-use efficiency in a natural hybrid pine and its parents, Journal of Plant and Ecology, Vol. 4(4), pp. 275–282.