Students are Planting at Former Auto Salvage Yard

Great little story out of Muncie on bringing fruitful land back from a former salvage yard!

Work has begun on a plan to re-vegetate Car Doctors, a former auto salvage yard on Burlington Drive adjacent to the Cardinal Greenway.

Revegatation is important in preventing erosion by water and wind and runoff of metal contaminants, and to alleviate unsightly conditions, says John Pichtel, a professor of natural resources and environmental management at Ball State University.

The project also will research the possibility of plants vacuuming up contaminants in the soil.

Mayor Dennis Tyler was on hand last week to thank Pichtel and his students for doing the project, which the city is helping to fund with $1,450.

The students are trying to “recolonize” the site by planting test plots of clover, rye grass, bluegrass and other plants, to determine which will grow best in the compacted, gavelly, infertile soil.

The project also will compare the ability of each type of plant to remove or stabilize soil contaminants.

The contaminants of concern include lead, arsenic, hydrocarbons and benzene. The site borders the White River as well as Cardinal Greenway. It also is the former site of bulk oil plants.

The students are using compost provided by Ball State in some test plots but not in others to determine if hauling in compost is worth the effort, Pichtel said. They also are studying the effects of amending the soil with mycorrhizal fungi, to see if it is better than compost in recolonizing the property.

Other vegetation to be planted at the site for testing includes, corn, wheat, soybeans and oats.

Eventually, Pichtel would like to recolonize the site with tallgrass prairie and a woodlot of oak, beech, birch and maple trees so it could become a recreational area with walking trails.

Read the full article here.