Eloy Antonio Pauletto 1 , Lizete Stumpf 2 , Luiz Fernando Spinelli Pinto 1 , Tiago Stumpf da Silva 3 , Jordano Vaz Ambus 4 , Gabriel Furtado Garcia 3 , Leonir Aldrighi Dutra Junior 1 , Tiago Scheunemann 5 , Renata Pinto Albert 6
ABSTRACT: Studies addressing the potential of grass roots in improving the structural quality of constructed minesoils are not frequent in the literature, although they are essential for understanding the re-establishment of soil functions in the environment. The objective of this study was to quantify the root attributes of the species Urochloa humidicola, Panicum maximum, and Urochloa brizantha and relate them to the physical properties of a constructed minesoil in reclamation of an area degraded by coal mining. The study was performed in a field experiment in a coal mining area located in southern Brazil. Soil samples were collected, five years after experiment installation, to determine bulk density, macroporosity, distribution of water stable aggregates expressed in different size classes, mean weight diameter of water stable aggregates, and organic carbon content, as well as for chemical characterization. Root sampling was performed by the monolith method to a depth of 0.30 m. Results confirm the hypothesis that the root system of the perennial grasses studied positively contributes to recovery of the constructed minesoil in the 0.00-0.10 m layer after 58 months of revegetation. The higher percentage of large aggregates, higher bulk density, and lower macroporosity in the subsurface indicate the presence of degraded layers, negatively influencing the development of the grass root system. Urochloa brizantha exhibited the largest root matter in the surface layer, influencing the breakdown of the large and cohesive aggregates, transforming them into smaller crumbly aggregates. In the 0.10-0.20 m layer, Urochloa humidicola showed greater volume and root length in relation to other species; nevertheless, changes in soil physical properties were not observed, showing that the time span of the root growth of the species was not sufficient to provide improvements in the subsurface layers.