Waste Silica as a Valuable Component of Extensive Green-Roof Substrates
Anna Krawczyk, Iwona Domagała-Świątkiewicz, Agnieszka Lis-Krzyścin, Małgorzata Daraż
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Unit of Plant Nutrition, Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Horticulture,
University of Agriculture, 29 Listopada 54, 31-425 Krakow, Poland
Online publish date: 2017-03-22
Publish date: 2017-03-22
Submission date: 2016-03-03
Final revision date: 2016-08-21
Acceptance date: 2016-08-22
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2017;26(2):643–653
Green roofs are becoming increasingly common practice of the urban sustainable environment. The growing substrate is the most important part of green-roof technology. The cost of engineering substrates can be reduced by using locally available components. Since green roofs are a relatively new concept in Poland, there is a need to examine substrate compositions and characteristics, including commonly used ingredients as well as alternative recycled/waste materials. The aim of our study was to assess the ability of locally sourced waste materials as roof-growing media amendments. In the greenhouse experiment we tested two grass and herb species mixtures and four waste substrate formulas. The locally disposed waste materials used as components of growing media included silica wastes (byproducts of metallic ferrosilicon alloys), cellulose, foundry sand, and organic waste material removed from the organic horizons of mucky peat. The engineered Si-waste substrates were compared with the commercially available media. The physico-chemical properties of components and substrates, their stability over time, and the influence on plant growth and mineral nutrient status were examined. Particle size distribution, bulk density, mass, water capacity, soil reaction, and total dissolved salt content of Si-waste-growing media were compatible with FLL standards. We found low amounts of available P and K, and high concentrations of Ca, Mg, S, and trace elements (with the exception of B) in Si-waste substrates in comparison with the control media. Silica waste materials have the potential to maintain pH with high buffering capacity. Engineered Si-waste substrates had a positive impact on plant growth and biomass. In general, these results indicate that contaminant elements contained in alkaline Si-waste substrates were not easily available to the root system, and consequently they did not restrict plant growth. We consider Si-wastes to be a valuable and environmentally responsible green roof media amendment.