Click on “Download PDF” for the PDF version or on the title for the HTML version.

If you are not an ASABE member or if your employer has not arranged for access to the full-text, Click here for options.

Impacts of coal seam gas infrastructure development on agricultural soil: a case-study in southern Queensland, Australia

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  141894028,  2014 Montreal, Quebec Canada July 13 – July 16, 2014. (doi: 10.13031/aim.20141894028) @2014
Authors:   Diogenes L. Antille, Jochen Eberhard, Neil I. Huth, Oswald Marinoni, Javier Navarro-Garcia, Brett Cocks, Erik J. Schmidt
Keywords:   Land rehabilitation, Erosion, Soil compaction, Soil tillage, Strategic cropping land, Topsoil stripping.

Abstract. The production of coal seam gas (CSG) in Australia is set to increase driven by increasing global demand for energy and in response to the transition to a lower carbon economy through greater use of gas for electricity generation. In Queensland, the CSG industry provides approximately 90% of the gas supplies and 15% of the gas required for electricity. Despite of many economic benefits being delivered by the CSG industry, concerns have been raised over the potential environmental impacts associated with its production as well as potential long-term effects on agricultural productivity. The work reported in this paper was conducted to assess the extent of damage to agricultural soil caused by the various elements of CSG development, particularly the impact on soil compaction. The study was conducted using a paired-sites approach by comparing measurements conducted on a range of selected soil parameters in areas around and including well-head sites with measurements in neighboring agricultural fields. These spatial areas are referred to as ‘lease‘ and ‘field‘ areas, respectively. Results showed that soil compaction within lease areas was approximately 10% higher compared with fields (P<0.05), which was observed after five years or more following rehabilitation. Practical solutions to alleviation and management of such compaction are presented and discussed. Soil cultivation of the top 300 to 350 mm will ensure sufficient water storage in most years thereby reducing the risk of crop failure. Progressive soil loosening techniques for alleviation of deeper compaction were reviewed however their cost-effectiveness under Australian soil conditions requires further investigation. Threshold bulk density values of 1.45 g cm-3 for the top 350 mm of the soil profile and 1.60 g cm-3 for the 350-800 mm depth interval are suggested as reference for CSG-rehabilitated soil and may be used as guidance until further studies are undertaken. The feasibility of adopting controlled traffic should be considered to minimize additional compaction caused by standard farming operations in field areas. The assessment of soil chemical properties indicated that these were affected to a limited extent. However, a general requirement is for careful manipulation of sodium-rich subsoil, and avoidance of soil mixing and layer inversion during topsoil stripping, stockpiling and reinstatement. The dataset acquired may be used to guide parametrization of crop simulation models to enable for estimation of crop productivity losses and development of soil management practices relevant to the CSG industry in Australia. Cost-benefit analyses of techniques for soil reinstatement, development of soil quality standards and industry BMP are required.

(Download PDF)    (Export to EndNotes)