The existence of excessive soil compaction has hindered the surface mining industry from returning land to pre−mining productivity after reclamation, especially on prime farmland soils. Heavy earthmoving equipment used during reclamation tends to generate root−limiting bulk densities that adversely affect plant growth thereby decreasing yields. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate a mechanism, called the ‘Soil Regenerator,’ which reconstructs soil media at minimum bulk density during surface mine reclamation. The prototype soil forming mechanism was mounted on the front of a conventional bulldozer. Soil was placed in long narrow windrows by a scraper or bulldozer. As the bulldozer pushed into the windrow, soil rose up the blade and was agitated, transported, and deposited by a helicoid auger in a 0.9−m deep berm adjacent to the bulldozer. The capacity of the prototype ranged from 490 to 804 m3/h while producing bulk densities ≤ 1.0 Mg/m3 and penetrometer measurements below 0.7 MPa. These measurements demonstrated the capability of the ‘Soil Regenerator’ to eliminate soil compaction on reclaimed surface mined land and to reconstruct soil more suitable for crop growth.

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Published in Applied Engineering in Agriculture, v. 21, issue 1, p. 43-51.

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Partial funding for this research was provided through the Robinson Trust.

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The investigation reported in this paper (03−05−074) is in connection with a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director.