Effects of pumice mining on soil quality
- 1Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico
- 2Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Instituto Literario 100 Toluca, 50 000 Mexico
Abstract. Mexico is the world's fourth most important maize producer; hence, there is a need to maintain soil quality for sustainable production in the upcoming years. Pumice mining is a superficial operation that modifies large areas in central Mexico. The main aim was to assess the present state of agricultural soils differing in elapsed time since pumice mining (0–15 years) in a representative area of the Calimaya region in the State of Mexico. The study sites in 0, 1, 4, 10, and 15 year old reclaimed soils were compared with an adjacent undisturbed site. Our results indicate that gravimetric moisture content, water hold capacity, bulk density, available phosphorus, total nitrogen, soil organic carbon, microbial biomass carbon and phosphatase and urease activity were greatly impacted by disturbance. A general trend of recovery towards the undisturbed condition with reclamation age was found after disturbance, the recovery of soil total N being faster than soil organic C. The soil quality indicators were selected using principal component analysis (PCA), correlations and multiple linear regressions. The first three components gathered explain 76.4 % of the total variability. The obtained results revealed that the most appropriate indicators to diagnose the quality of the soils were urease, available phosphorus and bulk density and minor total nitrogen. According to linear score analysis and the additive index, the soils showed a recuperation starting from 4 years of pumice extraction.