Both study cases – “Welzow” and “German Railways” – are located in the southeastern part of the State of Brandenburg (Lower Lusatia) around the city of Cottbus, about 150 km southeast from Berlin. The post-mining sites of Lusatia (State of Brandenburg, Eastern Germany) represent a typical type of MagL (reclaimed lands). These severely disturbed sites have clearly reduced soil fertility and an initially still missing soil structure.

Productivity of conventional agriculture on such sites is often low. Former industrial sites or traffic areas are difficult to use for conventional land use options, but might be an alternative for biomass production if not contaminated (brownfields – anthropogenic wastelands).

The selected former railway site in the city of Cottbus is a representative of the type of MagL, with very poor soil conditions (rubble, stones).

The selected study site “Welzow” represents the sites that have to be reclaimed after mining, whose soils are generally undeveloped with poor initial and often unfertile conditions.

Location of SEEMLA test sites of the partner BTU-Cottbus, Brandenburg, Germany

The site selected for the SEEMLA project is situated in the north part of the Welzow mine, in a former dump area of approximately 170 ha in size, which was initially projected for renewable energy production from biomass. The actually chosen case study site Welzow may have a size of approximately 4.5 ha. The pilot case site will be used for growing black locust which was already successfully cultivated in a nearby “energy forest” (further information (in German): Göritz energy forest).
The plot is surrounded by experimental sites for different types of biomass production so that potential biomass yields can be directly estimated based on crop yields. Furthermore, an abandoned railway area in the city of Cottbus was selected as a representative case study site of MagL, which consist of former industrial sites that were set aside. These sites are characterized by anthropogenic substrates often containing different kind of debris and residues. The size is approximately 1 ha and its major part was used for wagon repair and maintenance. Generally, the site can be classified as a brownfield and thus as marginal land, particularly in terms of soil properties. The pilot case site will be used for growing poplar and black locust.

Ecological site conditions – Climate and Soil

The region is characterized by a sub-continentally influenced climate of the temperate zone. These sites represent marginal sites both at post-mining landscapes as well as at former, recently abandoned industrial sites (in this case abandoned railway area). Brandenburg is generally charaterized by sandy soils that are poor in nutrient and organic matter content, have low field capacity, low pH and tend to dry conditions. (Link to Müncheberg SQR Tool)

Former railway site in Cottbus – site history


Situation of soil profiles indicated by I – III in the former German Railway (Deutsche Bahn) pilot case area


Typical soil profile of the former railway site (FAO WRB: Urbic Technosol)

The sites are characterized by young, anthropogenic soils. In post-mining soils indicators for salinization were found due to pyrite oxidation. This process also results in a higher acidification of the soils. Pyrite containing post mining soils have a huge potential for further and long-term strong acidification. Post-industrial site as represented by the former railway site are frequently characterized by large amounts of stone and rubble within the soil profile and on top of the surface.


Site history post-mining site in Welzow – yellow signature: SEEMLA plots

Pilot case site Welzow – I and II indicate soil testing and monitoring SEEMLA sites

profile-1Typical soil profile of the post-mining landscape (FAO WRB: Spolic Technosol)