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?

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?

Soil formation of the Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage site. They are an archipelago of nineteen islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean and are part of Ecuador. The Galápagos are known for theie extreme isolation and unusual animal life, with rare species inhabiting the islands. The soils of the remote Galápagos Islands were not well studied, … Continue reading Soil formation of the Galápagos Islands

What is the Wisconsin 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 as well as California’s state soil, San Joaquin. Wisconsin’s state soil is … Continue reading What is the Wisconsin state soil?

What is soil made of?

Soils can look like they are a homogeneous material. But in reality, soil contains solid particles of different sizes and different types. Some of the particles are minerals, and others are organic matter. There are spaces between the particles called pores. These pores may be filled with air or water. Soil is a mixture of … Continue reading What is soil made of?

What is “soil carbon”?

You may have heard a lot about soil carbon, “storing” carbon in soil, or “carbon markets.” So, let’s look at the relationship between soil and carbon in basic terms. First, carbon. It’s the sixth element on the periodic chart. In nature, only two things are pure carbon: diamonds and graphite. However, carbon can interact with … Continue reading What is “soil carbon”?

What has been discovered about the Mars surface? How does that relate to human missions?

Scientists have been studying the Martian surface with spacecraft since 1965 when the Mariner 4 spacecraft collected the first images. Since then, there have been additional flyby missions, as well as orbiting and landed missions. You might recall the movie, The Martian, and the attempt by the character Mark Watney to grow crops to survive … Continue reading What has been discovered about the Mars surface? How does that relate to human missions?

Why use grass on tennis courts? Grass is fast!

With the availability of hard, rough surfaces for tennis courts, why do champions play on natural grass at Wimbledon? That grass is no regular “yard grass” – and it’s not even the same as what is on golf courses. The grasses at Wimbledon are not only bred for tennis but maintained at professional levels. Let’s … Continue reading Why use grass on tennis courts? Grass is fast!

What can we learn about agricultural practices from soil archives?

Have you ever matched a paint sample to an older color? Paint stores keep quite a variety of color samples. Crop scientists keep seeds in seed banks for comparison and research. Soil scientists do the same with soil samples, stored in archives. Soil changes with time. In fact, soil is a dynamic source of nutrients, … Continue reading What can we learn about agricultural practices from soil archives?

How do different root structures affect soil?

Plant roots modify soil in different ways – depending on the root’s architecture. Most of us think of the soil as the natural habitat for plants, and therefore soils must provide a nurturing and supportive environment for them, right? Well…most of us could not be more wrong about that. The soil is not a very … Continue reading How do different root structures affect soil?