Is lead contamination ancient history?

Lead's use may be – but we still have a lead problem, especially in urban areas. The first extraction of the metal lead from ores was ancient – around 7,000 BCE. In the millennia since, Egyptians have used it in cosmetics, Romans in their pipes, the British in their ammunition, and now every society in … Continue reading Is lead contamination ancient history?

What’s being done to restore wetlands?

Wetlands are fun places to get muddy, enjoy the outdoors, and listen for birdsongs. They provide important habitat for wildlife, and for recreation. You’ve likely seen wetlands on the fringes of lakes, on river floodplains, along the coast, and anywhere else where water accumulates on the landscape. Wetlands are found at the intersection of earth/soil … Continue reading What’s being done to restore wetlands?

What is the California state soil?

As you know, many states have a designated state bird, flower, fish, tree, rock, etc. And, many states also have a state soil – one that has significance or is important to the state. We’ve previously written about New Jersey’s state soil, Downer. The San Joaquin is the official state soil of California.  Let’s explore … Continue reading What is the California state soil?

How can soil scientists tell the history of a location from a soil pit?

There are many reasons why soil scientists dig soil pits. They all revolve around collecting information to address a question or a management problem. And sometimes they hold more questions than answers. Bald Ridge part of Bighorn National Forest, is located at about 10,000 feet in elevation. Credit: Ryan Schroeder In the summer of 2017, … Continue reading How can soil scientists tell the history of a location from a soil pit?

What are soil aggregates?

The ground beneath your feet might seem like a uniform material, but it’s really a mixture of soil particles, organic matter, and other mineral/organic components. For a soil to be healthy, it must have good structure. Soil is made up of a combination of primary particles - sand, silt and clay. These particles can be … Continue reading What are soil aggregates?

How much compost is enough for my garden?

Adding compost to a garden is a good idea. But, like most things in life, is it best to do it in moderation? To answer that question, you need to understand what you are adding and why. Compost can help your soil structure and soil health, and make it easier for healthy roots to grow. … Continue reading How much compost is enough for my garden?

How does the Freeze-Thaw cycle impact soil?

Have you ever seen a heavy, solid rock that’s been seamlessly broken into thin plates by some invisible force? Or have you observed those eerily perfect circular patterned rock formations along mountain slopes? Maybe you’ve noticed mysterious, repetitive mounds scattered through the countryside in the middle of fields. The movement of both rocks and soil … Continue reading How does the Freeze-Thaw cycle impact soil?

What are those wavy bands in the soil?

Editor’s Note: You may have noticed bands in soil along roadsides, or on hikes. Soil scientists refer to these bands as lamellae [luh-mel-ee]. They are interesting areas of soils, formed by various processes, and are quite beautiful. Knowing how they form and how that might impact the area is important to growers, homeowners, road builders, … Continue reading What are those wavy bands in the soil?

What is “porous pavement” and how does that help soils capture and clean water?

Porous pavement can look just like regular pavement, but it has an important environmental benefit. It allows water to trickle down through the usually impermeable street or sidewalk. This means the water can be naturally filtered by the soil, and does not have to be transported to storm drains and eventually main waterways. There are … Continue reading What is “porous pavement” and how does that help soils capture and clean water?

How do wetlands protect land and water?

Originally, wetlands were thought of as wasted land that could be drained for agriculture, building housing developments and other structures. Even the word “swamp” implies that they are areas with little meaning. The truth is, wetlands are a crucial part of the earth’s ecosystem, one that we cannot do without! Water lilies, cattails and other … Continue reading How do wetlands protect land and water?