A few weeks ago, I visited the experiment that Elizabeth de la Reguera has established for her Master’s degree at the University of Maryland. The question for her experiment is, what is the effect of saltwater intrusion on the productivity and survival of different plant species? We travelled to Eastern Shore of Maryland to till her plots and plant switchgrass, barley, and wheat. We used rakes to till the plots because we did not want to till too deeply, which would degrade the soil. We only needed to ensure good seed-to-soil contact, to help the plants germinate and prevent them from being blown away by the wind (grass seeds are REALLY small). Then, each type of seed was assigned to one person to disperse on the plots. The purpose of this is to have some kind of uniformity when it came to the dispersion of the seeds. While we were there we took water samples from the lysimeters that Elizabeth had already installed. When we came back from field, I started to measured the porewater conductivity and pH. The soils and porewater have high electrical conductivity, which is likely due to the high levels of chloride and sulfate moving into the plots with saltwater.
- By Karla Rosales Lobos
Dr. Kate Tully
Kate is an Assistant Professor of Agroecology at the University of Maryland.