Dredging through the swamps and farms of a changing landscape, the UMD Agroecology lab has been off to an exciting start of the summer. After finishing my first full year as a University of Maryland student, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to begin applying my knowledge of soils and the environment than working with this incredible team. It’s incredible to be involved in active research and to get a “behind the scenes” view in agroecological science.
Dr. Kate Tully, Dani Weisman, Ben Swartz, and I have been busy placing lysimeters (to extract soil solution samples), taking soil cores (to test for phosphorus, nitrogen, aluminum and other textural qualities), and mapping out our six key agricultural sites along the eastern shore of Maryland. The long, hot, mosquito-filled days are definitely starting to pay off! Last week we began KCl extractions (for plant-available N), and we excitingly retrieved our first batch of data from our initial soil samples. We’re already seeing interesting trends in phosphorus levels along some of the “transitional sites,” where saltwater intrusion is most prevalent.
This will be another busy week at the shore. Over 100 lysimeters have been placed at key locations at each agricultural and control site and they’ve been given time to equilibrate over the past month, which means it’s time to prep them for sampling! On Wednesday we will meet with Dr. Jarrod Miller, a soil scientist with the University of Maryland Extension. Together, we will start to dig a little deeper—pun intended—into the complex soil dynamics at our transition sites. Using the soil auguring expertise from Dr. Ray Weil’s lab, we will start taking deeper core samples in order to better understand the movement of nutrients through the soil horizons as well as begin creating a more complete maps of those sites.
In addition to creating a more complete understanding of these soil dynamics, we have garnered more intimate understanding of the unique ecosystems that make up the eastern shore. Mud turtles, beavers, tree frogs, herons, and dozens of other unique plants and animals have already graced us with their presence! Take a look at some of the photos from our past few weeks out on the shore.