SRNL assesses bamboo crop

Jan 12, 2010

Many people who grow bamboo in their yards soon regret it, and spend the rest of their days trying to kill it off. The U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), however, is glad to have a bamboo nursery.

These are the kinds of that can be troublesome to property owners—the kinds with runners—but that feature is exactly what makes them possibly valuable to a place like the Savannah River Site.

The reason is the remediation of waste sites, such as old settling basins or areas. A common approach includes capping such sites to prevent rain from seeping through the waste, potentially spreading contamination.

"We are looking at numerous kinds of vegetation to plant on closure caps," said Dr. Eric Nelson, of SRNL's Environmental Analysis Section. "The vegetation is there to prevent erosion and extract water from the cap. The caps are generally with clay and perhaps artificial layers below. Vegetation on a cap has to be quick-growing, shallow-rooted so as not to penetrate the layers, densely rooted, cold hardy, tolerant, and able to thrive in full sun. It also needs to be good at preventing invasion of other plants, especially pines. We thought bamboos would have good potential."

Of the thousand or so species of bamboo, SRNL selected two of the smaller species with runners for assessment (P. bissetii and P. rubromarginata). In 1991, they were planted in a one-acre plot about ten feet apart.

The next step was ... to ignore them. Dr. Nelson next assessed the nursery 14 years later.

"The bamboo grew in well and there were relatively few other plants that invaded the plots. The bamboo was especially effective in keeping out pines," he said. "We did another assessment late last year with similar results. Bamboo, especially P. bissetii, is a good candidate for use on a closure cap."

Dr. Nelson said that a closure cap vegetative cover will require more study than this nursery. "Soils are important and moisture balance and nutrient cycles are also important. We also need to understand more fully the early growth and establishment of the bamboo and its performance in closure cap conditions. But it seems promising at this time, pending further research."

SRS has a number of closure sites with caps now, but in the future there will be many more, including caps over closed waste tanks. Their success is a matter of physical, environmental and regulatory importance. "This nursery has helped us define future research needs and operational issues," Dr. Nelson said.

Explore further: LED lighting can significantly reduce greenhouse horticulture energy consumption

Provided by Savannah River National Laboratory

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bleached chopsticks warning issued

Oct 05, 2006

Taiwanese officials say they've found excessive levels of sulfur dioxide in some bamboo products, including disposable chopsticks and skewers.

Study explores mysteries of Kilimanjaro

Sep 12, 2006

Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain with some intriguing mysteries that are just now being solved after more than 100 years of scientific study.

Botanists identify new species of North American bamboo

Mar 13, 2007

Two Iowa State University botanists and their colleague at the University of North Carolina have discovered a new species of North American bamboo in the hills of Appalachia. It is the third known native species ...

Putting a green cap on garbage dumps

Nov 24, 2008

Landfill sites produce the greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide, as putrescible waste decays. Growing plants and trees on top of a landfill, a process known as 'Phytocapping', could reduce the production and release ...

Recommended for you

Breaking down DNA by genome

6 hours ago

New DNA sequencing technologies have greatly advanced genomic and metagenomic studies in plant biology. Scientists can readily obtain extensive genetic information for any plant species of interest, at a relatively low cost, ...

Is fleet diversity key to sustainable fisheries?

12 hours ago

Concern about fisheries is widespread around the world. Over the past several decades, a robust discussion has taken place concerning how to manage fisheries better to benefit ecosystems and humans. Much of the discussion ...

Strange, fanged deer persists in Afghanistan

13 hours ago

More than 60 years after its last confirmed sighting, a strange deer with vampire-like fangs still persists in the rugged forested slopes of northeast Afghanistan according to a research team led by the Wildlife ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.