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?

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?

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?

What drives roots’ decomposition and carbon storage in grassland soils?

You most likely know that roots are important for grasses to grow, but the roots help do other things, too. They build soil carbon and support other life forms in soil. But did you know that various management tactics can force grass roots to break down, decompose, and add to the stored carbon pool in … Continue reading What drives roots’ decomposition and carbon storage in grassland soils?

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”?

How do wild pigs affect riparian systems?

If you live in the southeastern United States, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered wild pigs or their damage. They can live along stream beds and dig in fields or along roadsides. In the U.S., wild pigs are an invasive species and don’t have many predators. They can affect water quality, compete with native species … Continue reading How do wild pigs affect riparian systems?

There is a fungus among us!

For over four hundred million years, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi have been forming symbiotic relationships with plants around the globe. Found on almost every continent and in approximately 80% of vascular plants, these important fungi play a pivotal role in plant nutrient uptake in diverse ecosystems. These important fungi begin their life in the soil – … Continue reading There is a fungus among us!

How do soils and humans impact one another?

Soils are a finite resource, and only renew over centuries or millennia. Soils provide many “services” to humans, yet it is largely an ignored resource. Some of the services soils provide are: Capturing and cleaning rain and snowfall,Providing structure to grow our food,Holding carbon in the form of organic matter (carbon sequestration), andProviding a home … Continue reading How do soils and humans impact one another?