Overall, this sampling event was a great learning experience. I learned that trying to use the ‘better’ option was a mistake, as with all scientific methods, it should have been tested and proven to work before it was used for a sampling event. We were able to overcome defeat on the first day of soil sampling, but due to the strong support and dedication I have from fellow masters students and the technical team at the USDA the sampling was a success. I have learned what not to do, and am feeling more motivated and confident for the rest of the sampling events over the course of the summer!
- By Briana OtteMy research project has recently shifted from examining allelopathy in cereal rye to quantifying inorganic nitrogen (N) uptake and release from cereal rye. Specifically, I am looking at how an early termination date versus a late termination date of cereal rye impact inorganic nitrogen movement through the soil profile to synchronize N release from the cereal rye to the critical growth stage of corn. My project will examine the N movement to a 100 cm depth in the soil profile and how these termination dates affect N movement and corn performance in a water stressed and a non-water stressed no-till corn production system. Although I am very excited to focus on a project I am more interested in, there was a rapid transition period causing some minor (but not insurmountable) difficulties!
My new project involves taking soil cores to a 100 cm depth to observe N differences from the topsoil to the subsoil. In order to reach the 100 cm depth, we had plans to use a new AMS Ag-Probe 9100 mounted on a UTV. However, at the last minute, we decided to use an older mechanical soil probe, which could sample deeper in the profile. After the first soil core the old soil probe broke down! Sampling is time sensitive, so we had to hustle! We called in reinforcements (other AgroEcoLab members) to help with the soil collections using another probe and some old fashioned hand augering.
This month, Dani was awarded the Garden Club of America’s Coastal Wetland Studies Scholarship to study salt water intrusion and legacy phosphorus release on coastal farmland. The award is $5,000 and will go towards field and laboratory research costs. This summer, she will be sampling water and soils at project study sites on the lower eastern shore of Maryland. She has kicked off her research with a laboratory microcosm study on soils from a marsh-farm boundary in Blackwater National Wildlife refuge. She is exposing the soils to different types and combinations of salts found in sea water in order to better understand the mechanism for phosphorus release in tidally inundated soils.
The Garden Club of America (GCA) was founded in 1913 and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to horticulture, conservation, and civic works projects. The GCA awards over $300,000 in scholarships annually. The specific purpose of the GCA Coastal Wetlands Studies Scholarship is to promote wetlands conservation through research. From the GCA website:
“The Anna M. Rockefeller Fund was established in 1966 by Mrs. Robert D. Sterling with Mrs. Avery Rockefeller to support Mrs. Rockefeller's work on the environmental education packet The World Around You. The fund defrayed the expenses of the packet for many years. Renamed the Rockefeller Environmental Education Fund in 1993, the fund also underwrote one-third of the expense of producing the book Scientists on Biodiversity, published with the American Museum of Natural History. In 1999, Mrs. Edward S. Elliman, daughter of Mrs. Rockefeller, elected to direct the Fund's use to a wetlands scholarship to carry on the intent and spirit of her mother's work in the area of environmental education.”
For more information on the GCA, visit https://www.gcamerica.org/.
- By Dani Weissman
Dr. Kate Tully
Kate is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology at the University of Maryland.