Techniques to remotely monitor the growth of plantation in mining dumps

Techniques to remotely monitor the growth of plantation in mining dumps

Overburden (OB) is the by-product of mining activity. The OB dumps are majorly stabilized by plantation. We have used species identified by the forestry department of the state and by IUCN. We have observed that despite using the species mentioned above, the growth of plantation is not very encouraging. To mitigate this problem, we are looking for a solution that will address the problem.

Overburden (OB) is the by-product of mining activity.  It is dumped around the mining area in the form of a heap with a predetermined slope of 350 max as permitted by Indian Bureau of Mines. If the OB dumps are not adequately stabilized and maintained, they can pose a safety risk. We have a total mining area of around 20 sq. km, and OB dump area is around 3-4 sq. km.

The OB dumps are majorly stabilized by plantation. Plantations also play an important role in biological reclamation through modification of soil characteristic. We have done plantation inside the mining lease and outside the mining lease in the buffer zone. The total area covered by plantation is around 2-3 sq km.

We have used species identified by the forestry department of the state and by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). These saplings are namely Sal (Shorea robusta) , Mahaneem (Melia Azedarach), Karanja (Millettia pinnata), Shishu (Dalbergia sissoo), neem (Azadirachta indica), Krishnachuda (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), Radhachuda (Peltophorum pterocarpum), Chatian (Alstonia scholaris), Arjun (Terminalia arjuna)  etc.

We have observed that despite using the species mentioned above, the growth of plantation is not very encouraging. Around 20-30 % of saplings do not survive after 8-9 months of planting them or their growth is stalled after growing from few inches to 1-2 feet. We, therefore, have to perform re-plantation every year to replenish the saplings which did not survive. To mitigate this problem, we are looking for a solution that will address the requirements mentioned below.

Options Tried

  • We have tried adding growth stimulants to the plantation zone, but we did not observe any positive results.
  • We have tried adding water retention compounds to hold the water near the roots. The results were reasonably good, but not as per the requirement.   
  • We tried soil enrichment, using Auxins, humic acid and dry leaf mulch to retain the nutrients & improve the carbon content of the soil. This resulted in a marginal improvement in plant growth and survival, but still not satisfactory.

Requirements

  • The solver will carry out a detailed study of the area where the plantation is done and propose a methodology to understand the growth of the saplings.
  • The solution should enable us to monitor the growth of the saplings continuously or at a predefined interval.
  • It should be noted that the solution should indicate the growth & conditions of saplings on an individual level. We do not want to know the areas where the growth is not good, as we already have this information.
  • The solution should enable us to determine the health of the sapling not only by analysing the sprouting of leaves but also with the aid of textural/chemical compositions of the leaves, without the need of physical examination of the saplings.
  • It should display a dashboard showing the growth status of all the saplings planted and forecast the growth rate of the saplings.
  • It should alert us in cases of an abnormality and prompt us with pre-emptive actions required to mitigate the problem.
  • It should also advise us on the actions to be taken to improve the health of the saplings and increase their growth further, depending upon the weather conditions and forecasts.
  • The solution should be cost-effective and easy to implement and maintain.
  • It should not require the installation of too many sensors in the plantation area. If any sensors are used, then they should be self-sustainable

Awards:- INR 8,00,000

Deadline:- 12-08-2020

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