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May 2010 Archive: Soil News

These news stories, which concern soil and soil-related topics, have been gathered from various sources on the Internet.  I try to pick one article each day to highlight. Sometimes I will select two articles. Sometimes it will be a slow news day and I won’t find any to highlight.  The full articles are located off of this site. Click on the title to see the full article.

It might make you love dirt (News and Observer, 29 May 2010)

Article reviews Dirt! The Movie  a documentary about soil narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis. The movie combines new and archivage footage, animation, and interviews with scientists, scholars, agriculturalists and eco activists. It’s available from Netflix and other online rental services. 

Save water for the environment and the wallet (NorthJersey.com, 27 May 2010)

This article describes a number of ways to reduce water usage such as installing soil moisture sensors, rain sensors, and converting to drip zones.

Tidal Marshes Protect Aquatic Ecosystems and Store Carbon (newswise, 24 May 2010)

This press release from the Soil Science Society of America covers work by a team of scientist who measured nitrogen and phosphorus retention and carbon sequestration by tidal marshes along the Georgia coast. Their result show that tidal marshes protect aquatic ecosystems from eutrophication.

Climate Change – it’s in the Soil, it’s in the Leaves (Astrobiology Magazine, 19 May 2010)

Penn State scientists are studying the carbon isotopes carbon 12 and carbon 13 in ancient plants and microorganism communities in modern soils are being used to improve climate change models.

Invasive plant ‘increases ozone pollution’ (BBC News, 18 May 2010)

Kudzu is a deep-rooted, nitrogen-fixing vine from Asia that was introduced to control soil erosion. However, the vine has become an invasive plant that grows up to 26 cm in 24 hours. Nitric oxide emissions were doubled in soils where kudzu was present.

Turning Desert Into Farmland (Red Orbit, 18 May 2010)

The Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency is studying area soils to find soil with an underground water system, better quality soil, or soil that could be enhanced. The hope is that science can turn some of the arid desert regions into arable land that will boost food security.

 Soil Moisture Animations (Google Earth Blog, 13 May 2010

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) have released animations of global soil moisture levels using data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer satellite.

No-Till Farming Improves Soil Stability (USDA Agricultural Research Service, 11 May 2010)

A joint study by USDA-ARS with Kansas State University, ARS Central Great Plains Research Station, and the University of Nebraska has found that no-till leads to much more stable soil than plowed soil. The study looked at more than 19 years of various tillage practices across the central Great Plains.

AFRICA: Changing technologies to keep up with climate change (Reuters AlertNet, 10 May 2010)

Africa may need to embrace new technologies in order to keep up with climate change. The increase in temperature will mean less water in some places. New diseases and new pests will appear. All of this in an environment where food production has had trouble keeping up with demand.

Maintain Healthy, Sustainable Garden Soil (Natural News, 8 May 2010)

This is a nice little article on maintaining and improving your garden soil throughout the year. The advice is easy to follow and generally sound.

Web App Helps Prevent Soil Erosion (Discovery News, 7 May 2010)

Missouri farmers have a web application that helps them design terraces to control runoff. Terrace design is a complicated and time-consuming process without the benefit of computers. The new web-based application hopes to reduce the time it takes to design terraces. The application is currently being tested. It will be available for free to farmers in 2011.

Sugarcane farming practices contribute to global warming (PhysOrg.com, 5 May 10)

A University of Queensland, Australia study found considerable emissions of nitrous oxide from soil when high rates of fertilizer were applied to sugar cane fields and when the soil became waterlogged during flood-irrigation. These emissions can be as much as five times higher than normal emissions when high amounts of fertilizer are applied.

Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds (The New York Times, 4 May 10)

The heavy use of the weed killer Roundup by American farmers is leading to the development of herbicide-resistant superweeds. Farmers who would normally use no-till agriculture are being forced to plow their fields and use more toxic herbicides to fight these weeds. The problem is spreading with 10 resistant species of weeds in at least 22 states.

Large amounts of nitrogen stored beneath selected agricultural areas (EurekAlert!, 3 May 10)

A new study by the US Geological Survey and the US Department of Agriculture has found a surprising amount of nitrogen stored in the agricultural soils of Nebraska and Maryland. Scientists used a new version of the Root Zone Water Quality Model to estimate the mass balance of nitrogen in four agricultural fields. The significance of the study is that if this stored nitrogen is converted to nitrate, it could readily move to groundwater.

Rain gardens useful to protect environment (Nashua Telegraph, 2 May 10)

Rain gardens are depressions in the landscape that accumulate runoff so that any pollutants in the runoff will be filtered out in the soil rather than getting into rivers, streams, and lakes. This article discusses a rain garden project at the Durham, New Hampshire Department of Public Works building. The article includes photos of the rain garden.

Let it rot (Toronto Sun, 1 May 10)

This is a nicely written article on how to compost. The article lists the top 10 reasons to compost, for example “Revitalize soil.” The next section lists items that you can put in your composter and items that would go in the green bin. Finally it lists the steps needed to start composting in your backyard.

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