Last week the lab ventured into the wilderness that is Somerset County for a soil sampling expedition. In total, we came in with six people and two augers and after an intense three days we returned with a ~hundred bags of soil, more than fifty chigger bites collectively (although Kate got the worst of it), and a deep appreciation for air conditioning. A lot of planning, coordination, and hard work went into collecting these data points, but still Reviewer 3 is hard to please when it comes to sample size. Up until this trip I had not really put much thought into how the soil I have been running extractions on was collected. But now working with a sample from initial collection to data processing and graphing really adds a new depth (horizon?) of understanding.
Some highlights from the trip:
Overall, great experience but just another day in the office for the AgroEcoLab!
-By Tony Pham (visiting intern from Boston University)
Last week, I received the wonderful news that Maryland Sea Grant will fund a part of my project on saltwater intrusion and nutrient cycling in coastal ecosystems! I have recently decided to continue into the PhD program at University of Maryland, and this award will go a long way towards helping me expand my research project. Maryland Sea Grant is a partnership between the University of Maryland and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The program funds coastal science research, education, and outreach throughout Maryland. To best serve the coastal community in the state, Maryland Sea Grant has developed a strategic plan with four main focus areas: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems, Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, Resilient Communities and Economies, and Effective Environmental Science Education. My project will address the first focus area by uncovering key biogeochemical processes that occur as sea level rise causes tidal salt marshes to encroach on farm fields. This Fellowship includes a strong public outreach component to allow me to share my findings outside of the scientific and academic community. To reach more people through my research, I have partnered with staff at The Nature Conservancy, a national non-profit environmental conservation group that shares some common goals with Maryland Sea Grant. The Nature Conservancy and Maryland Department of Natural Resources have completed a statewide Coastal Resiliency Assessment to help guide preservation and restoration decisions. As I delve into the basic scientific research behind my project, I am constantly challenged with creating ways to effectively connect the public with my findings. The big-picture goal of my project is to better guide environmental land management decisions in changing ecosystems. I am thrilled that I will now have the resources to work closely with people who incorporate scientific and environmental outreach into their jobs every day!
- By Dani Weissman
In March, 2017, Kate and her colleague, Dr. Jarrod Miller, a UMD extension agent in Somerset Co. proposed a project to UMD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources with the overall goal of integrating both extension (UME) and research (MAES) in the development of best management practices for adapting and mitigating coastal farms in eastern Maryland to intruding saltwater via rising sea-levels. Since little research has investigated the effects of sea-level rise on coastal farmlands and farmers in this region are actively seeking strategies to mitigate the effects of saltwater intrusion, Kate and Jarrod's proposal was accepted and funding was granted to support the collection of preliminary data for a more robust USDA proposal they are currently writing.
Last week, they met at their field site near Princess Anne, MD to set up plots and begin experimental treatments using various crops and management strategies. Overall, the field crew made light work of the tasks at hand but no one managed to leave without a few aching muscles or tick bites. By the second week of July, experimental sampling will begin and we expect to learn much about the survival and productivity of various crops, the quality of pore water in terms of nutrients and hydrology, and soil nutrients in order to elucidate this issue for the public. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months!
- By Cullen McAskill