Twelve Mile Coulee Pipeline Topsoil Handling Soil Research Project – 1995 Annual Report

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  • Companies installing pipelines seek economical, practical and environmentally responsible methods of soil handling during pipeline construction to ensure successful soil reclamation.
    The objectives of the Twelve Mile Coulee Soil Research Project are to evaluate the impact of pipeline construction on Solonetzic soil quality and salt movement in the Brown soil zone. This research addresses soil handling practices on actively grazed native prairie in a landscape dominated by Brown Solonetz soils developed on till. Topsoil overstripping with a stepblade versus no stripping of trenchline (for small lines) is compared. Several important findings two years after summer construction are:
    • A step blade is effective in overstripping topsoils to re-establish fair surface soil quality as compared to poor quality on no strip plots. The native soils have a 10 cm Ah over an Ae and Bnt horizon sequence. Overstripping to 20-25 cm salvages the Ah to upper B horizons. Upon reclamation, the capability of overstripped soils is slightly better (about half a class) than that of no stripped soils.
    • There is increased topsoil salinity in both overstripped and no stripped treatments, but higher salinity in the latter. In overstripped treatments topsoil salinization occurs during topsoil replacement rather than during stripping.
    • In this prairie landscape dominated by Brown Solonetz soils, vegetation is responding well on both the overstripped and no stripped treatments.
    • No topsoil stripping is a viable alternative on straight lines, but is not viable on road and pipeline crossings or other major disturbances.

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    TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.