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June 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-site.  Click the title to go to the full article.

Remote sensing to map soil salinity (Western Farm Press, 30 Jun 2010)

USDA ARS scientist Dennis Corwin has used Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer imagery to map soil salinity in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. The researchers compared two vegetation indices and collected soil samples from 60 fields to see how field scale soil salinity levels compared with the vegetation indices.

Arctic Climate May be More Sensitive to Warming Than Thought, Says New Study (University of Colorado at Boulder, 30 Jun 2010)

A new study shows that current levels of Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide may be high enough to bring about significant, irreversible shifts in Arctic ecosystems. It found that at CO2 levels of 400 parts per million, the mean annual temperatures in the High Arctic are around 32 degrees F. At that temperature, it becomes difficult to maintain permanent sea and glacial ice. Current levels of CO2 are around 390 parts per million.

Scientists to heat terrain in climate test  (UPI.com, 29 Jun 2010)

Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory are planning an experiment in Alaska to test the effect of global warming on artic soil. By purposely warming test areas, they can determine how the ecosystem will react to global warming.

The Secret to Biodiversity is in the Soil (Treehugger, 27 Jun 2010)

Why do seedlings grow better under the shade of a tree of a different species than its own species. The secret is in the soil. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute found the survival rate is decreased for seedling planted in soil around trees of its own species.

USDA Unveils Showcase Watersheds Designed to Increase Use of Voluntary Conservation Practices in the Chesapeake Bay Basin (US Dept. of Agriculture, 18 Jun 2010)

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled three showcase watersheds designed to demonstrate what can be achieved by combining strong partnerships, sound science and funding to solve natural resource problems in a targeted area in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Straw residue helps keep nitrogen on the farm (EurekAlert!, 14 Jun 2010)

Researchers at Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences have found that straw left on a corn field after harvesting the grain and followed by legume cover crops will reduce nitrogen leaching but may lower economic return in some years.

Keeping nitrogen in the soil and out of the water (Montana State University, 11 Jun 2010)

While nitrogen is an essential nutrient for crop production, nitrogen can be leached into groundwater as nitrate. This article covers a number of management practices that can keep the nitrogen in the soil where it benefits the plants and out of the water.

Scientists Develop Faster Method For Testing Soils Around Oil Spills (Before It’s News, 10 Jun 2010)

Scientists from Louisiana State University, Texas Agrilife Research, and Virginia Tech developed a new method for detecting oil contamination in soil. The methods uses visible near infrared light with diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. Basically they shine a light on the sample and read the reflected wavelengths, allowing them to quickly determine in the field if soils are contaminated with oil.

Seasons Influence Microbial Response to Climate Changes (Newswise, 8 Jun 2010)

This press release from the Soil Science Society of America describes a study on the effect of seasonal variations in temperatures and atmospheric nitrogen on soil microbial activity and biomass. While warming temperatures and higher nitrogen increased biomass, the effects of nitrogen were only found in the summer.

Using Primeval Methods to Fight Modern Abuses of Agricultural Lands (New York Times, 7 June 2010)

Allan Savory started “Operation Hope” to reverse desertification that is spreading across the world’s farmland. While livestock can destroy healthy soil by compaction, overgrazing and too much manure, Savory moves livestock through the landscape with military precision to avoid overwhelming the landscape.

UN Says ‘Save The Environment, Save Money’ (Voice of America News, 3 June 2010)

A report from the United Nations Environment Program emphasizes that investing in the environment also benefits the economy and aids development in poorer countries. We depend on the ecosystems for food, medicine, water, protection against extreme weather and more.

Toxic town’s advocate sees victory ahead (CNN, 2 June 2010)

The tiny town of Mossville, Louisiana is surrounded by 14 chemical plants which residents claim are making them sick. Blood tests show the residents have three time the normal levels of dioxin in their blood. Recently the EPA agreed to test the soil and water to see if Mossville qualifies for Superfund status.

The Microbe Factor and Its Role in Our Climate Future (Yale Environment 360, 1 June 2010)

The earth’s 5 trillion trillion bacteria are discussed with respect to climate change. It is believed that the bacteria in the earth’s oceans and soils release far more carbon dioxide than the plants. Scientists are trying to understand the role of bacteria in climate change.

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