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Soil rebuilding represents a major challenge in the recovery of abandoned quarries. In this study, we explored the possibility of using reconstructed Technosols, to achieve soil rebuilding goals at an abandoned quarry site. We first investigated the use of a mixture containing commercial manure and limestone debris (LD) as pedotechnomaterials for an “ad hoc” (re)constructed Technosol (CT), for the recovery of an opencast limestone quarry in one of most concentrated quarry areas in the world. In a field experiment, we tested and monitored different pedotechnosystems (PTSs) made up of constructed Technosol + pasture species + different Mediterranean plant species. Specifically, a control (CT, without any additional treatments) was compared to treatments with organic amendment (CTOA) and conventional fertilizers (CTCF). Data were collected over a 12-month period and included crop performance, plant nutritional state, soil physical-chemical parameters, and metabolites. Analysis of variance compared differences among treatments, while factor analysis (FA) interpreted multiple relationships while explaining observed variability. Results showed that CTOA had better soil physical-chemical properties, greater plant growth, and overall superior agronomic performances compared to all other treatments due to the improved substrate conditions. According to FA, these results appear related to the creation of fertile soil conditions, with most of the investigated metabolites (i) playing a pivotal role in observed outcomes, together with (ii) a clear potential in being considered as a reliable fingerprint for investigating plant responses in constructed PTSs. The proposed pedotechniques in CTOA development show a great potential for the full recovery of abandoned limestone quarries in degraded Mediterranean areas by providing an excellent medium for plant growth, facilitating environmental reclamation.


Published in Sustainability by MDPI. Available via doi: 10.3390/su15065036.

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