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Article
Peer-Review Record

Effect of Ecologically Restored Vegetation Roots on the Stability of Shallow Aggregates in Ionic Rare Earth Tailings Piles

Agronomy 2023, 13(4), 993; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13040993
Reviewer 1: Mohamed El Gharous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Milena Kercheva
Agronomy 2023, 13(4), 993; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13040993
Received: 8 February 2023 / Revised: 18 March 2023 / Accepted: 25 March 2023 / Published: 28 March 2023

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

·        English needs to be improved for the reader to follow and understands.

·        Use focused and short sentences.

·        There are some typing mistakes that need to be corrected.

·        In the text we find sometimes (:) instead of (.), need to be corrected.

·        Some paragraphs or part of them in introduction are not understood (Paragraph 3 in page 2 for example).

·        For ease of read of tables add a horizontal line to separate parameters.

·        The author uses sometimes species and some other time specimen, is there a difference.

·        In Material and Methods there is explanation of some formulas that I have not seen used later in the article, what is the objective then?

·        Also in page 7, you are referring to Q1,2, 3 and you did not give definition of variables.

·        Is the correlation coefficient and the significance test equations reported in page 7 are the ones used to calculate values in Table 5 in page 8?

·        What is the meaning of the indices 1 and 2 under Roots in Table 6.

·        Page 8; in the end of the last paragraph, you are mentioning ‘’in the attached table’’ which one?  

·        Why table 6 and what do you want to get out of it?

·        The word “specimen” used in … rare earth tailing pile specimen…. Do you mean sample? if so, use sample instead.

·        In the end of the first paragraph in page 9, you are using the word “dogwood” that has not been referred to before.

·        Titles and sub-titles need to short and focused. For example:

o   “First stratification.” I prefer first horizon or just horizon 0-10 cm in page 9.

o   “Distribution characteristics of agglomerates influenced by the same root system” I prefer “Effect of root system of different species on agglomerate characteristics and distribution”.

o   “the of species” I put just the name of the species

·        I suggest of Figures 5a, 6a, 7a, 8a, 9a, and 10a to be line, this way I believe will illustrate better the differences.

 

·        Discussion Section is usually used to discuss results reported in the Result section. But here I see new results, new graphs, new formulas and equations and new terminologies?

Author Response

Response to Reviewer 1 Comments

Thank you for your critical comments and insightful suggestions, we totally agree with your suggestions which will be of great help to improve the quality of our manuscript. According to your kind comments, we have tried our best to improve the manuscript and revised the whole paper to make it more reasonable.

  1. English needs to be improved for the reader to follow and understands.

Response: Thank you for your critical comments and insightful suggestions, we totally agree with your suggestions which will be of great help to improve the quality of our manuscript. In order to make our manuscript more acceptable, we asked native English-speaking scholars to help us with language revisions. We really hope that the flow and language level have been substantially improved. Moreover, we have revised the whole manuscript carefully and have checked the manuscript throughout and tried to avoid any error. We are looking forward to you further advice on our paper. Thank you very much again.

  1. Use focused and short sentences.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. I simplified some of the long and difficult sentences and modified them into short sentences in the manuscript.

  1. There are some typing mistakes that need to be corrected.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. After checking the whole text, I corrected some of the misspellings. For example, the spelling of the words in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the introductions.

  1. In the text we find sometimes (:) instead of (.), need to be corrected.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. I have made changes to address this issue.

  1. Some paragraphs or part of them in introduction are not understood (Paragraph 3 in page 2 for example).

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. I explain the following: firstly, I divide the introduction into four parts. The first paragraph introduces the causes of ionic rare earth tailing piles and the ecological restoration problems at the present stage; the second paragraph introduces the meaning of agglomerates and points out that agglomerates are one of the important indicators affecting soil stability and the current research results of most scholars in this area; the third paragraph overly introduces the research results of most scholars in ionic rare earth own ore bodies (including tailings); the fourth paragraph summarizes the existing research results. It is found that there are relatively few studies on the stability of agglomerates in the context of the ecological restoration of vegetation root systems of rare earth-tailing piles. Therefore, this paper is introduced. It is possible that my lack of language has caused you to misunderstand this part of the content, I have touched up the language of the whole text.

  1. For ease of read of tables add a horizontal line to separate parameters.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. For the chart formatting I am following the journal requirements and if you strongly suggest that I make changes to it, then I will do so immediately.

  1. The author uses sometimes species and some other time specimen, is there a difference.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. There is no difference between the two expressions. Due to a misunderstanding caused by an oversight in my writing, I have changed it all to specimen.

  1. In Material and Methods there is explanation of some formulas that I have not seen used later in the article, what is the objective then?

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. In response to this question. I make the following explanation: the function of Eqs1-3. is to calculates the root system's characteristic parameters, and the data are shown in Table 4; Eqs4-5. are the formulae for partial correlation analysis, which are used in the following partial correlation analysis; Eqs6-8. are the stability evaluation indexes, which can calculate the values to evaluate the stability of the soil under the action of the root system and are used in the subsequent regression analysis. This part of the formula introduction is intended to explain the source of the calculation of the corresponding part of the data that follows.

  1. Also in page 7, you are referring to Q1,2, 3 and you did not give definition of variables.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. Your comments are very valuable, and I fully agree. To address this issue, I have re-provided additional instructions in section 2.5.

  1. Is the correlation coefficient and the significance test equations reported in page 7 are the ones used to calculate values in Table 5 in page 8?

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. The misunderstanding was caused by a mistake in my writing expression. The correlation coefficients and significance test equations reported on page 7 were used to calculate the values in Table 5 on page 8.

  1. What is the meaning of the indices 1 and 2 under Roots in Table 6.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. To address this question. I make the following explanation: When exploring the correlation between root characteristic parameters (RL, RD, RV) and bulk density, water content, and porosity, the control interfering factors are used, and the subscript 1 indicates the fixed interfering term and 2 represents the analyzed term. After thinking about the review comments, I thought it would be easier to understand without the subscripts, so I modified the original position in the table.

  1. Page 8; in the end of the last paragraph, you are mentioning ‘’in the attached table’’ which one?

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. Schedule1-2 is on pages 22-23

  1. Why table 6 and what do you want to get out of it?

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. In response to this question. I make the following explanation: due to an oversight in writing, Table 5 indicates linear correlation results. In Table 5, the parameter RL has a large effect on the bulk density, water content, but for porosity, the correlation is high for each root parameter. So further analysis, biased correlation analysis was introduced as in Table 6. The final analysis concluded that for the effect of rare earth tailings pile porosity, the vegetation root system characteristics parameters were all highly correlated to it.

  1. The word “specimen” used in … rare earth tailing pile specimen…. Do you mean sample? if so, use sample instead.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. To address this issue, I have made changes in the full text. Changed the word " specimen " to " sample. "

  1. In the end of the first paragraph in page 9, you are using the word “dogwood” that has not been referred to before.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. Due to an oversight in writing, I have made changes in the original location. Changed the word " dogwood " to " Cynodon dactylon(L.). "

  1. Titles and sub-titles need to short and focused. For example: “First stratification.” I prefer first horizon or just horizon 0-10 cm in page 9. “Distribution characteristics of agglomerates influenced by the same root system” I prefer “Effect of root system of different species on agglomerate characteristics and distribution”. “the of species” I put just the name of the species

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. In response to this problem, I have completed the revision in the corresponding position in the original text. And similar changes have been made to other titles. Details of the modifications can be found in section 3.2.

  1. I suggest of Figures 5a, 6a, 7a, 8a, 9a, and 10a to be line, this way I believe will illustrate better the differences.

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. The above graph represents the percentage distribution of different types of aggregates content at different depths. I think it would be more intuitive if the content percentages were represented in a bar graph. If you strongly suggest that I make changes to it, then I will do so immediately.

  1. Discussion Section is usually used to discuss results reported in the Result section. But here I see new results, new graphs, new formulas and equations and new terminologies?

Response: Thank you very much for the reviewer’s comments. In response to this question. I make the following explanation: the above part of the discussion only carries out the analysis of the influence of the root system on the stability of the tailing pile agglomerate from the experimental point of view, but only from the above experimental analysis, it cannot fully explain the influence of the vegetation root system on the stability of the rare earth tailing pile agglomerate. The discussion section is a further generalization of the previous conclusions and a comprehensive consideration of the aggregate stability. If you strongly suggest that I make changes to it, then I will do so immediately.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report

The authors of the article entitled “Effect of ecologically restored vegetation roots on the stability of shallow agglomerates in ionic rare earth tailings piles" presented an interesting research. After a thorough reading of the manuscript, there were some minor oversights that should be corrected in order for the article to fully meet the editorial requirements of the Journal.

 

Part of the manuscript

Comment

Introduction

The introduction should be slightly expanded to include research issues and relevant literature, especially on metals in soil which are contaminants and their influence on plants development. 

Explanations for all element designations should be only clarified at the beginning of the manuscript, further in the main text authors should use only abbreviations without full explanations. 

The abstract and the introduction is not clear, and does not have information on the purpose of the research and its scope, which should be added in the text.

Materials and methods

The materials and methods lack a description of the conducted experiments and their methodology, as well as a description of the equipment used by the authors during the research. This must be supplemented.

Results 

Calculation formulas should only be included in the methodology section.

Discussion

The discussion of the results lacks references to the literature and comparisons with the results of other authors. In addition, all results and graphs should be transferred to the Results section.

Calculation formulas should only be included in the methodology section.

Conclusions

The authors should refer to what situations their results could be used, in their conclusions.

The conclusions should be reworded and corrected, and the paragraphs significantly shortened so that they present specific conclusions drawn from the conducted research.

Additional remarks

In the text authors should correct the citations according to the MDPI standard.

Spaces between words should be corrected throughout the text.

The quality of the inserted pictures and their purposefulness, especially regarding the equipment, should be verified and improved.

Authors should limit themselves to three levels of headings, not four, which begin to repeat and confuse the reader.

 

The manuscript prepared by the authors is part of the aims and scope Agronomy Journal. After completing the above comments, the article will meet the editorial requirements and can be published in the Journal.

 

Suggested literature: 

Alloway, B.J. Heavy Metals in Soils, 2nd ed.; Blackie Academic and Professional: London, UK, 1995. 

Wang, L.K.; Veysel, E.; Ferruh, E. Handbook of Advanced Industrial and Hazardous Wastes Treatment; CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group: Boca Raton, FL, USA, 2009.

Tack, F.M.G.; Bardos, P. Overview of Soil and Groundwater Remediation. In Soil and Groundwater Remediation Technologies; Ok, Y.S., Rinklebe, J., Hou, D., Tsang, D.C.W., Tack, F.M.G., Eds.; Taylor & Francis: Oxfordshire, UK, 2020.

Pusz, A.; Wiśniewska, M.; Rogalski, D. Assessment of the Accumulation Ability of Festuca rubra L. and Alyssum saxatile L. Tested on Soils Contaminated with Zn, Cd, Ni, Pb, Cr, and Cu. Resources, 2021, 10 (5), 1–18.

Schwarz, A.; Wilcke, W.; Styk, J.; Zech, W. Heavy Metal Release from Soils in Batch pH-stat Experiments. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 199963, 290–296.

Saha, J.K.; Selladurai, R.; Coumar, M.V.; Dotaniya, M.L.; Kundu, S.; Patra, A.K. Assessment of Heavy Metals Contamination in Soil. In Soil Pollution—An Emerging Threat to Agriculture; Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World; Springer: Singapore, 2017; Volume 10.

Kabata-Pendias, A.; Mukherjee, A.B. Trace Elements from Soil to Human; Springer Nature: Berlin, Germany, 2007. 

 

 

Author Response

Response to Reviewer 2 Comments

The manuscript prepared by the authors is part of the aims and scope Agronomy Journal. After completing the above comments, the article will meet the editorial requirements and can be published in the Journal.

Response: Thank you for your critical comments and insightful suggestions, we totally agree with your suggestions which will be of great help to improve the quality of our manuscript. According to your kind comments, we have tried our best to improve the manuscript and revised the whole paper to make it more reasonable.

Introduction:

1.The introduction should be slightly expanded to include research issues and relevant literature, especially on metals in soil which are contaminants and their influence on plants development.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. In response to this opinion, I have modified and added it in the first paragraph of the introduction, describing the impact of pollutants in the soil on the growth of vegetation roots, and modifying the references 6-8.

  1. Explanations for all element designations should be only clarified at the beginning of the manuscript, further in the main text authors should use only abbreviations without full explanations.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. I have revised the entire article in response to this comment.

  1. The abstract and the introduction is not clear and does not have information on the purpose of the research and its scope, which should be added in the text.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. The purpose and scope of the research are introduced in the introduction. Maybe what I introduced is not comprehensive enough. I will make a detailed introduction in the text.

Materials and methods:

  1. The materials and methods lack a description of the conducted experiments and their methodology, as well as a description of the equipment used by the authors during the research. This must be supplemented.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. In section 2.4 of Materials and Methods. I have performed a description of the test methods and have added the required test equipment.

Results:

  1. Calculation formulas should only be included in the methodology section.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. To address this issue, I have moved the original formula explanation to the methods section.

Discussion:

  1. The discussion of the results lacks references to the literature and comparisons with the results of other authors. In addition, all results and graphs should be transferred to the Results section. Calculation formulas should only be included in the methodology section.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. First, I will compare the research results with other scholars in the discussion section and add references. The specific content can be viewed in the discussion section. Secondly, some new diagrams appearing in the discussion part are further discussion and analysis of the result part. It is a theoretical analysis after comprehensive experiments and data analysis. Finally, I have moved the calculation formula to the method part.

Conclusions:

  1. The authors should refer to what situations their results could be used, in their conclusions. The conclusions should be reworded and corrected, and the paragraphs significantly shortened so that they present specific conclusions drawn from the conducted research.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. I have streamlined and trimmed the conclusion section, re-edited the language, and I have added when the findings can be reused.

Additional remarks:

  1. In the text authors should correct the citations according to the MDPI standard.Spaces between words should be corrected throughout the text.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. We have revised the reference formatting and spaces in the full text.

  1. The quality of the inserted pictures and their purposefulness, especially regarding the equipment, should be verified and improved.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. I checked and revised the content of the images in the full text, removed the redundant content, and improved the quality of the images. I also revised the content about the test apparatus section with the pictures.

  1. Authors should limit themselves to three levels of headings, not four, which begin to repeat and confuse the reader.

Response: Thank you very much for your valuable comments. Regarding my title I have also revised it according to the review comments. You can check the article for details.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 3 Report

The authors investigated the relationships between root characteristics of three vegetation species used for restoration of ionic rare earth tailings piles and the soil aggregation characteristics. The theme is ecologically significant. The paper need a  serious revision. The English is very difficult to understand and the authors did not use the proper terms, e.g. they used agglomerate instead of aggregate, weight capacity instead of bulk density. There is no information about the number of replicates and the variations of the studied properties within each variant and depth. The authors  did not provide the coefficients of determinations and the SEE of the regression equations (Table 7). The indicators MWD, GMD and D have to be described in section Material and Methods and not in the Discussion. The mentioned classes of soil aggregates  (large, medium, small, micro) are not defined. There is no discussion of the obtained result in comparison with other similar investigations.

Author Response

Response to Reviewer 3 Comments

The authors investigated the relationships between root characteristics of three vegetation species used for restoration of ionic rare earth tailings piles and the soil aggregation characteristics. The theme is ecologically significant.

Response: Thank you for your critical comments and insightful suggestions, we totally agree with your suggestions which will be of great help to improve the quality of our manuscript. According to your kind comments, we have tried our best to improve the manuscript and revised the whole paper to make it more reasonable.

  1. The English is very difficult to understand, and the authors did not use the proper terms, e.g. they used agglomerate instead of aggregate, weight capacity instead of bulk density.

Response: We thank the reviewer to raise this issue. We have changed " agglomerate " to " aggregate " in the manuscript. I rechecked the content of the manuscript and revised the grammar and presentation. See the manuscript for details. Thank you very much.

  1. There is no information about the number of replicates and the variations of the studied properties within each variant and depth.

Response: Thank you for your careful review and valuable suggestions. To address this issue. I have added a description of the number of samples taken at different depths with specimens in Section 2.2. There is also information on the sample variables, and the specific variable information is shown in Tables 2 and 3.

  1. The authors did not provide the coefficients of determinations and the SEE of the regression equations (Table 7).

Response: Thank you for your careful review and valuable suggestions. Due to an oversight in writing, I have provided additional explanations in Table 7.

  1. The indicators MWD, GMD and D have to be described in section Material and Methods and not in the Discussion.

Response: Thank you for your careful review and valuable suggestions. After our careful consideration, we feel that this comment is very helpful to improve the quality of our manuscript. We have moved this section to the Materials and Methods section. Details can be seen in the manuscript.

  1. The mentioned classes of soil aggregates (large, medium, small, micro) are not defined.

Response: Thank you for your careful review and valuable suggestions. Your comments have been a great help to my manuscript. Due to an oversight in my writing, the description of the definition of the aggregates category was missing. I have re-added this part of the description in section 2.4 of the manuscript. Thank you very much for your help.

  1. There is no discussion of the obtained result in comparison with other similar investigations.

Response: Thank you for your careful review and valuable suggestions. I have re-added to the discussion section of the manuscript an analysis that compares with other similar studies.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Round 2

Reviewer 1 Report

The article has been improved tremendously, particularly its English.

 

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