I have been working in Agroecology Lab over a little month ago when I’ve been working with a field/lab technician, Aubrey Wiechecki water samples from various agricultural plots along the Eastern Shore from August 28, 2019 where it recently had rain. As the weeks progresses there’s had recently no rain, so the lab technician goes out soil sampling every other week causing the soil is so dry and the crops are going to die. We are analyzing these samples to examine the levels of nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) loading in the Chesapeake Bay in response to saltwater intrusion.
These studies of coastal agricultural communities are extremely important, as they are the leading edge of climate change. Increased drought associated with climate change will increase saltwater intrusion (a landward movement of salinity from the ocean onto the coastal plain) on coastal wetlands. This will cause the wetland become brackish or saline that suffers stress from reductions in rainfall and freshwater flows in groundwater on agricultural lands. Droughts can also alter biogeochemical cycles that can cause coastal wetlands to release nitrogen (N). Past applications of N and P on farms may be released by the intruding waters. The lab work that I am helping with Aubrey with this semester will be used to help demonstrate the effect of saltwater intrusion on agricultural plots in coastal wetlands.
My experience in the lab so far this semester has been very informative and interesting. I have learned many things up to this point and anticipate learning more. At the beginning of the semester, I conducted out water samples for measuring conductivity, salinity, and pH. I’ve also learned how to make 5 different reagents by formulating a single chemical compound such as nitrate, ammonium, and phosphorus. As of late, I have been analyzing filtered soil samples using a pipette for 2mL of the sample and 4 mL of water for each test tube. This has all been valuable information that I will use in the future. As it is still early in the semester, there is plenty of time and opportunity to learn new things and to continue helping Aubrey with her work.
- By Skylar Petrik