Electronic Field Guide » Pre-Development Issues » Soil Stockpiling and Importation

Prepared by Patrick Drohan (Ecosystem Science and Management)

The norm is currently to stockpile topsoil so that it can be reapplied on the site following development. However, the pile should be protected during the interim with a geofabric or grass cover. The pile must not be moved or driven on, especially when moist or wet. Movement of the pile when it is wet can disrupt valuable soil structure and lead to soil compaction.  In addition, moving the pile will cause more of the soil organic matter to be lost as carbon dioxide.  The loss of soil organic matter will result in poorer fertility and water-holding capacity. Losing soil organic matter is akin to burning money--don’t do it, and protect your organic matter as much as possible.
During construction, earth-moving activities are extensive and material may be hauled in from off site.  If possible, be sure to document where material is coming from and its composition. For example, is the material a biosolid, a compost, a subsoil from a sandstone parent material, or a subsoil from a limestone parent material? This information can make a difference during site remediation due to inherent compositional differences (physical, chemical, and mineralogical properties).  Not all topsoil is adequate.  The success of remediation depends on soil; if you want a similar plant composition to what you had before pad construction, strive for a soil similar to what you had.