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Nelson Mandela University (2019)

A gatherer’s paradise ? Early humans and plant foraging on the cape south coast, South Africa

Gummow, William Thomas

Titre : A gatherer’s paradise ? Early humans and plant foraging on the cape south coast, South Africa

Auteur : Gummow, William Thomas

Université de soutenance : Nelson Mandela University

Grade : Magister Scientiae 2019

South Africa is a semi-arid country that is experiencing population growth and the associated pressure of producing sufficient crops to sustain the population. Furthermore, poor land management has also led to increased degradation of valuable arable land. To improve poor soil quality and possibly avoid or reverse degradation and ultimately desertification, it was suggested that soil amendments are a potential solution to some of these problems. Although soil amendment is a relatively well-known practice to improve soil quality, the use of rubber crumb as a soil amendment is not well studied. Rubber crumb is produced from end-of-life tyres that have been ground up to fine particles and as such can be used as a secondary resource to replace the use of virgin materials. Rubber crumb has been used in an array of industries, however, the present study investigated the possibility that rubber crumb might be used as a soil amendment to alleviate various forms of soil degradation, specifically soil compaction and crusting, and potentially improve crop establishment and growth.To determine this, a soil that is prone to crusting and compaction was amended with rubber crumb at rates of 5%, 15% and 25%. Various soil physical characteristics, such as bulk density, particle density, porosity, field capacity and penetration resistance were investigated and it was determined that as the percentage rubber crumb increases in the soil, so do the beneficial characteristics of the soil. Furthermore, the rubber crumb was also treated in various ways in order to determine how the treatments might affect the chemical properties of the soil, as well as the amount of zinc that is leached from the rubber crumb. It was found that washing the rubber with a weak acid or even water prior to adding it to the soil resulted in more desirable chemical condition compared to untreated rubber crumb. Lastly, maize (Zea mays L.) was used to determine whether amending soil with pre-treated rubber crumb in different percentages had an influence on the germination success and growth rate of maize. In terms of germination success, amending soil with rubber crumb does not seem to have a significant influence, however, growth rate decreased as the percentage rubber crumb increased, while treating the rubber with a weak acid or water prior to adding it to soil had the most positive effect on plant growth. It can therefore be concluded that rubber crumb amendment rates between 5% and 15% resulted in the most desirable soil physical properties and plant growth amongst the amendments. However the best plant growth was still seen in the control soil, to which no rubber crumb had been added.

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