This study investigated vegetation strategies for a fly ash landfill in a semi-arid environment. Ten plant species adapted to the local climate were initially evaluated for their germination characteristics in various mixtures of Tivoli fine sand, fly ash, and cattle manure. Alkali sacaton (native, Sporobolus airoides (Torr.) Torr.), blue grama (native, Bouteloua gracilis (H.B.K.) Lag. Ex Griffiths), a forage sorghum (variety Canex, Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench), sand bluestem (variety Woodward, Andropogon hallii Hack.), and sideoats grama variety El Reno, Bouteloua curtipendula (michx.) Torr.) were selected for further evaluation. Concurrently, mixtures were evaluated to determine the effects of the soil amendments on soil saturated paste electrical conductivity (EC) and pH. The addition of even 50 g kg−1 fly ash increased EC values above 4.0 dS m−1, indicating salt tolerant species may be needed. Six mixtures were selected for use in a greenhouse study and for further study of moisture retention characteristics. Using an X/Y format, where X is fly ash content and Y is manure content (g kg−1) and the balance of the mixture was Tivoli fine sand, those mixtures were 0/0, 200/0, 200/100, 200/200, 100/100, and 300/100. The addition of manure provided ample quantities of plant nutrients. Alkali sacaton was the only plant specie not adversely affected by the addition of fly ash. For biomass production, height, vigor and leaf tip burn, all remaining species had significantly better growth or ratings with 0/0 as compared to any other mixture. Soil moisture retention characteristics of the Tivoli fine sand can be significantly changed through amendment with fly ash or manure. Sixty cm of Tivoli sand was estimated to have the same available water holding capacity as 45 cm of 200/0, 39 cm of 200/100, 34 cm of 200/200, 47 cm of 100/100, and 33 cm of 300/100.
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