Vadodara: Massive stretches of land near mining sites that have been rendered barren due to toxic and heavy metals can potentially turned lush green and fertile.
In a major breakthrough using a commonly found fungi, MS University scientists are confident that such land can be actually turned fertile.
The experiment was carried out to reclaim the mining wasteland at Kadipani in Vadodara district, the largest deposit of flourspar in India.
Scientists of Department of Environmental Studies successfully planted maize and moong plants with four soil combinations – normal garden soil, 50:50 % garden soil and mining soil, 75% normal and 25% mining soil with trichoderma, and 100% mining soil on the campus’ botanical garden.
“We found that barren mining soil could be made fertile using trichoderma, a commonly found fungi that acts as a growth promoter as well as biocontrol agent,” said professor Arun Arya, who along with research scholar Ankita Bhatt had carried out the research project.
In Gujarat alone, nearly 12,000 hectares of land is under mining.
“Trichoderma removes stress in the plants which helps in their growth. This shows that the fungi can help plants grow in mining wasteland,” he said, adding that the plants will be developed into trees and transplanted at the site.
“Biomass of seedlings and chlorophyll contents of the raised plants revealed that plantation in mining land is possible. There was more than 50% change in the biomass of the plants,” he added.
Earlier experiments to at Kadipani failed because normal plants were directly planted at the site
The project was funded by Gujarat’s forest department with the support of Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) which is mining the mineral fluorspar by open-cast mining method where in large tracts of land are excavated to extract materials.
At Kadipani, fluorspar ore is processed to produce calcium fluoride concentrate that acts as a raw material for manufacturing of hydrofluoric acid, refrigerant gases, aluminium fluoride, synthetic cryolite, fluorine chemicals and flux in metallurgical industries.
Fluorspar is widely used in steel making, manufacturing of HF, teflon, fluorocarbon and agricultural and metallurgical industries.