Why is testing for soil microbes important?

 Soil microbes like bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes are important for many reasons. They help move nutrients to and from the soil. They help with plant growth. They even help make substances that hold soil particles in aggregates, which helps the stability of soil. These microbes are small but exist in large numbers in soil. Soil … Continue reading Why is testing for soil microbes important?

How are soil microbes affected by fertilizer in soils?

There isn’t a simple answer to this complex question – but my research hopes to shed some light on this important subject. The key to answering this question starts with understanding that all soils, microbes, and fertilizers are unique. Different farms – or even areas within a farm – may have different situations. Interactions between … Continue reading How are soil microbes affected by fertilizer in soils?

What happened to Alaska’s soils during the 2019 fires?

Alaska was on fire in the summer of 2019. It was the hottest summer on record for the state, and the driest on record in southcentral Alaska. For the first time ever, “extreme drought” conditions were declared. A typical summer in Alaska sees rain in May, a drier June, followed by increasing rain until winter. … Continue reading What happened to Alaska’s soils during the 2019 fires?

What are alluvial soils?

Alluvial soils are soils deposited by surface water. You’ll find them along rivers, in floodplains and deltas (like the Mississippi Delta), stream terraces, and areas called alluvial fans. This last category results from larger floods, causing the soil to spread out in the shape of a triangle fan. These soils are formed differently than many … Continue reading What are alluvial soils?

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?

How are soil scientists studying soils under water?   

Studying underwater soils – or subaqueous soils – is a fairly new field. Before the late 90s, soil that was under water was commonly considered to be nothing more than sediment. However, as soil scientists began to study this emerging area further, they realized that underwater soils share many characteristics with soils on land. By … Continue reading How are soil scientists studying soils under water?   

Can soil microbes adapt to different climates and regions?

From the equator to the arctic, life forms have adapted to their particular climate and regional conditions. In steamy sub-tropical estuaries, mangrove forests dominate the landscape. They bridge the salt- and fresh-water worlds. In northern Canada and Russia, the evergreen trees of the taiga forest endure incredibly cold winters and long periods of almost complete … Continue reading Can soil microbes adapt to different climates and regions?

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?