New Project: Comparison of Compost and Proprietary Soil Amendments for Vegetation Establishment

After road construction, the adjacent disturbed soil has a diminished capacity to sustain vegetation, overall soil health is compromised from soil disturbance and there is an increased risk for erosion.

Soil quality in these areas can be replenished by importing topsoil (the preferred choice) or using organic composts. If organic compost is not available, proprietary soil amendments provide a cost-effective alternative. But information regarding the effects, mix ratios and application techniques for these products is limited. Research is needed to better understand optimal organic compost ratios and how to integrate these amendments to improve soil quality.


A new research study will examine the germination viability of vegetation with soil amendments and the percent of groundcover over time compared to control plots. A wide variety of soil amendments will be considered, including organic composts, proprietary soil amendments and soil types that represent those typically found in highway revegetation projects. The topsoil used for the greenhouse phase of the research will be representative of poor to marginal quality topsoil often encountered on MnDOT projects. Mixing ratios and techniques, the cost of processes and other variables will be examined. Researchers will use the findings to develop a tool, such as a matrix or decision tree, and training to guide staff in decisions and implementation.

“The research aims to determine better options to improve topsoil quality to efficiently establish vegetation and to improve overall soil health in right of ways post construction,” explained Warren Tuel, erosion control specialist, MnDOT Office of Environmental Stewardship.

This would reduce costs for site inspection and corrective actions.

Project Details

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation to subscribe.

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