Impacts of Overstripping Topsoil on Native Rangelands in Southeastern Alberta: A Literature Review

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  • This literate review evaluates the information available on the effects of overstripping topsoil during pipeline construction on native rangelands in southeastern Alberta. The effects on soil quality and handling of Chernozemic and Solonetzic soils are presented in detail as these are the dominant soils in southeastern Alberta.
    The available information indicates that overstripping and subsequent replacement of topsoil can produce horizon characteristics similar to plow depth characteristics resulting from cultivation. In Chernozemic soils, overstripping may not greatly change quality of the soil replaced over the trench after pipeline construction because these soils have low salinity and sodicity levels, and only minor textural differences between A and B horizons. Overstripping may, however, decrease surface organic carbon content in Chernozemic soils. These minimal changes in soil quality suggest that Chernozemic soils could be overstripped without significant impact.
    In most Solonetzic soils, overstripping topsoil can increase the clay content, soil strength in the Ap horizon, salinity, sodicity and pH in the soil replaced over the trench. It can also decrease water infiltration and organic carbon content, thereby increasing water erosion. Seedling emergence from the seedbed may be reduced by these changes. Some Solods may be overstripped without significantly changing topsoil quality, but this depends on the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil. The negative potential impacts of overstripping topsoil on many Solonetzic soils indicate that Solodized Solonetz and Solonetzic soils should not be overstripped.

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    TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.