How can we improve soil health in potato cropping systems?

Minimizing soil disturbance is one of the key tenets promoted to build soil health in agricultural systems. Many farmers across the county have adopted reduced and no-till systems to build soil carbon, a central component to healthy soils. But what if you grow a crop where the part you sell is underground – like potatoes? … Continue reading How can we improve soil health in potato cropping systems?

What is Trichoderma and how is it beneficial?

Have you ever wondered about the living organisms in the soil? Let’s dig into the soil today and meet our very special friend. We will be learning about the secret abilities of this friend and how this tiny friend shows friendship to us. Our friend has a cool Latin name “Trichoderma.” Trichoderma is a genus … Continue reading What is Trichoderma and how is it beneficial?

How can I manage my lawn to prevent nitrate pollution?

Lawns are a major part of urban ecosystems. Turf grasses represent one of the major crops in the United States. The area of lawns combined would be about equal to the size of the entire state of Wisconsin. Lawns have several environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration, reducing urban heat, and reducing. However, if they are … Continue reading How can I manage my lawn to prevent nitrate pollution?

Can moss help clean up waterways?

In a word, yes! In a paper published in the Journal of Environmental Quality (2021), researchers studied a type of submerged aquatic moss. Fontinalis antipyrectica has a common name of “willow moss” and can even be installed in home ponds. Willow moss is a species in the class Bryopsida, which includes over 11,000 moss species around … Continue reading Can moss help clean up waterways?

What is the current research about soil additions to help soil biology?

Improving soil health on farm fields integrates the three types of soil management: physical, chemical, and biological. Physical management includes how farmers use their equipment on fields – tilling, harvesting, etc. Chemical management involves the timing and choice of fertilizers, manure, and other additions. Soil biology is the next frontier being researched for optimizing soil … Continue reading What is the current research about soil additions to help soil biology?

What is a dead zone?

As the name implies, “Dead Zone” is an area with no living beings. When a dead zone occurs within a waterbody, that zone has no aquatic life. Dead zones can be found around the world. They are a problem for coastal waters, bays, and lakes. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, and is … Continue reading What is a dead zone?

How does soil moisture impact our lives?

Soil moisture is key to understanding the land's surface and all the activities that occur there, both seen and unseen. These include agriculture, hydrology, weather, and human health, to name just a few. But first it is important to understand what soil moisture is. Soil moisture is the available water contained within the matrix of … Continue reading How does soil moisture impact our lives?

What do nutrients do for plants?

If a plant decided to go on a diet, you know, to keep its plant-like figure, what do you think it would choose to be as healthy as possible? It turns out that plants, like humans, rely on essential nutrients to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. So, what’s the plant equivalent of a protein … Continue reading What do nutrients do for plants?

What are controlled-release fertilizers?

Many of us who enjoy gardening or grow plants in pots on the balcony use fertilizers that are characterized as “enhanced.” They may have descriptions like “improved nutrient uptake,” “6 months feeding” and “feed and forget.” We use the fertilizer to provide extra nutrients to the plants we grow.  But what makes these products enhanced fertilizers … Continue reading What are controlled-release fertilizers?

How can homeowners recycle grey water?

Here in California – and in many parts of the world – water scarcity is a way of life. Thankfully, most of the water that we use indoors can be safely reused for outdoor irrigation and toilet flushing. This is called grey water. Grey water is used water from sinks, showers and washing machines. It … Continue reading How can homeowners recycle grey water?