public marks

PUBLIC MARKS from paleorthid


Soil organisms help ranchers

Intense, low duration grazing builds soil vitality, and increases soil organic matter. Rhizosperic soil can get awfully puny under long duration grazing. Topsoil pales and topsoil depth is lost, but not to sediment discharge or wind erosion. The in-situ transformation of topsoil to not-topsoil results in the discharge of soil carbon to the atmosphere. The good news is that, unlike wind erosion, water erosion, sheet erosion, or gully erosion erosion, this yet-to-be-named variant of topsoil erosion is reversible.


transect points: Why is HIV so prevalent in Africa?

Geographer Harold Foster is convinced that it is due to low soil selenium levels.

transect points: La Paz Loses Yakima Case

Locals are outraged that an elected official used La Paz County resources to pursue a solely personal vendetta against Yakima, a biosolids drier, abusing employees and losing over $10M in the process. A recall effort is mounting.

transect points: Soils and its role in a changing climate

Most soil scientists agree with the unvalidated concept that soil carbon levels will likely decline in step with temperature increases. Higher biological activity will result in more decomposition of organic matter. One certainly sees a similar relationship between soil carbon and temperature when comparing the effect of elevation, aspect and latitude. That we have yet to validate it is telling.

Ammonia: a candidate for nitrogen transfer

In mycorrhizal associations, the fungal partner assists its plant host with nitrogen and phosphorus uptake while obtaining photosynthetically fixed carbon. Recent studies in mycorrhiza have highlighted the potential for direct transfer of ammonia from fungal to plant cells. This presents a new perspective on nitrogen transfer at the mycorrhizal interface, which is discussed here in light of recent progress made in characterizing a large array of membrane proteins that could fulfil the function of transporting ammonia.

transect points: My 2007 Field Season Begins

In the Yakima Valley, WA, with its 500,000 irrigated acres and its network of leaking canals, irrigation induced seasonal wetlands are common. In the floodplain, upwelling hyporheic / phreatic river water can be masked by irrigation induced hydrology, but only while the canals are full, or recently so. During this January visit, long after irrigation diversions have ceased, there was no mistaking the dominant river-induced groundwater hydrology at the site.

transect points: Carbon Credit Payments for US Forest, No-till Crop, Manure, or Grassland

The North Dakota Farmers Union has successfully started a national Carbon Credit Program. It allows ag producers and landowners to earn income by storing carbon in their soil through no-till crop production and longterm grass seeding practices. There are also forestry (tree planting) and methane offset (manure digester) contracts. Forestry and methane contracts are available nationwide and have no enrollment date. Soil offset contracts are limited to established enrollment areas. (article includes map). Soil carbon characterization studies are needed to expand the enrollment areas.

transect points: Sombroek's Challenge - Terra Preta Nova

The Godfather of Terra Preta, soil scientist Wim Sombroek (1934 - 2003) enjoyed a lifelong fascination with enhanced soil. The importance of plaggen soil in his native Netherlands impressed him at an early age, and early in the 1960's, he recognized in the Amazonian Dark Earths something familiar and precious. Before his passing, he assembled specific soil scientists challenged them to discover the process for making and sustaining a modern equivalent of the bio-char enhanced terra preta, what he termed terra preta nova. A great opportunity in answering Sombroek's challenge lies is surmounting the opacity of mutualistic rhizospheric species to traditional analytical approaches: only 1% of rhizospheric species are cultureable ala petri dish. We don't have a robust body of culture-independent studies against which to compare Terra Preta, so we are doubly challenged to reverse-engineer the phenomenon. Considering Wim Somboek's many noteworthy accomplishments, the perspective of his international leadership, and the late-in-life timing of his challenge, one senses he is pointing us to a mystery fundamental to understanding soil in new and exciting ways. This happens at a time when the soil science profession is in dynamic transition and sorely in need of a unifying vision. Wim Sombroek has given soil scientists a most welcome and worthy quest.

NSCSS News and Views: Job Opportunity

Geo-Technology Associates, Inc., one of the most respected and fastest growing Geotechnical and Environmental consulting firms serving the mid-Atlantic region, is seeking a mid-senior level Soil Scientist. The ideal candidate for this Abingdon, Maryland (Baltimore Metropolitan Area) based position will be involved in wastewater disposal, permitting projects, and mapping wetlands.

transect points: Black Earth

Peak Energy has a long post on Terra Preta that brings together what has been established on the subject. As of yet, there is no direct mention of the role of glomalin, just a minor mention of the mutualistic fungi that produce it. Glomalin is an unvalidated factor in Terra Preta formation that several of us sense will be demonstrated by soil research as fundamentally important. Spurred on by back40, I am fascinated with bio-char, Terra Preta's key soil amendment. Last summer I constructed a small charcoal retort out of a cracker tin. I used it to produce small pilot batches of low temperature charcoal. Hoping to transform my simple charcoal into a reasonably bio-char-like material, I am currently composting my bits.

Announcing NSCSS News and Views Blog for Soil Science Professionals

Greetings to all soil science professionals - agency, academic, and private sector - The National Society of Professional Soil Scientists (USA) has initiated the first professional soil science organization blog. Hopefully other soil organizations will follow. It is no secret that blogging thrives in a community setting. Initial posts in The NSCSS News and Views Blog will be soil science job opportunities, event announcements, and member news. Comments will be closed during this establishment phase. Once interest and readership develop, we hope to convert this blog to support active public exchange on the three issues that we in NSCSS never tire of discussing: professional and ethical conduct, soil science education, and unfair competition from taxpayer-supported entities.

transect points: Two New Soil Science Blogs

David Crouse, over at North Carolina State has started a new soil science blog. It is obviously a tentative effort at this point, seeing as how the last post has nothing to do with soil science. You have to start somewhere. I am eagerly looking for more soil science blogging. NC State is one of my favorite soil science universities so, while I haven't met DC personally, I expect this blog could work up to (or inspire) something noteworthy. I have started a second soil science related blog: NSCSS News and Views. A fair amount of material gets passed to me as NSCSS Secretary. Job opportunities, for example. I'll post items as they get to me. If I notice anything attracting and holding folks attention, I'll build on that.


transect points: My picks from Vadose Zone Journal May 2005; Vol. 4 (2): 225 - 451

VZJ articles are released to open access 18 months after online publication. These articles, from May 2005, became available on November 13, 2006. (1) Buckingham, 1907: An Appreciation: Buckingham articulated his findings mostly in written prose, without much reliance on mathematics. His foundational ideas are as valid today as when he proposed them. (2) Simplified Method to Estimate [hydraulic conductivity] ... A simple, innovative method is presented to estimate saturated hydraulic conductivity in soil. The only paired data points necessary for this proposed new method are the times when the permeameter is half full and when it reaches empty.

transect points: Invasive Earthworms

Research shows that invasive earthworms are damaging forest soils and are a menace to species diversity. The problem is most often associated with formerly glaciated regions, where native populations of earthworms are not present. Comparing soil in front of the invaders to post invasion conditions demonstrates that these worms cause soil compaction, reduced soil fertility, and increased erosion. It appears that these invaders are capable of alterations deep enough into the soil profile to result in a change in soil taxonomic classification at the order level. Other concerns are damage to rhizosphere functions, impairing soil carbon sequestration capacity. Tim Jones (Mort-Jones Soil Consulting) in the News

Tim Jones is a soil scientist with Mort-Jones Soil Consulting. On a recent rainy November afternoon, he demonstrated a soil boring at a Granger residence.

transect points: 2007 Science Blogging Conference Sat, Jan 20, 2007

The world needs more science bloggers. There are a lot of science bloggers in NC. Soil science bloggers are few. There is a concentration of soil scientists in and very close to North Carolina. Soil scientists should go to the 2007 Science Blogging Conference Sat, Jan 20, 2007, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Chapel Hill, NC.

transect points: Geocorp America Soil Science Internships

GeoCorps America has announced that 40 jobs will be available this summer, 2007, for work with the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. These are paid geoscience positions at many interesting locations. GeoCorps Positions pay a $2,500 stipend for 10-12 weeks of duty and free housing is provided. The positions are open to students, teachers, professionals and retirees. Of the 40 jobs, two are soil scientist positions and I would characterise both as college internships.

transect points: New Soil Science Licensing Website

Renewed soil science licensing efforts are underway in Washington State. Supporting them is a new website. Titled Soil Science Licensing, the site is available to become a clearinghouse for all soil science licensing efforts. It links to the best available information, including the list of soil science licensing boards maintained by the Soil WikiProject.

transect points: Soil and Bioavailability of P in Food

Researchers find that soil phosphorus levels may affect plant phytate levels as much as plant breeding. Not only is the phosphorus in low-phytate grain crops more digestible by people, but low-phytate grains free up minerals essential to human nutrition: zinc, manganese and iron.

transect points: Soil Science Journal Club

a resource for people interested in recent advances in Soil Science in all its guises

Wiki ThisBLOG: SciAm Observations: A blog from the editors of Scientific American

Wikipedia is the kind of peer-reviewed, information sharing that the scientifically-minded should enthusiastically support

transect points: Older than Dirt

Bill Gurstelle over at The Technology Underground Blog states that, having turned 50 years old today, he realizes that he is easily older than dirt. And does a fair job of proving it out. Happy birthday to you Bill.

Basque Research: Mixed mortars of calcium and cement in the restoration of buildings

Mixed mortars of calcium and cement in the restoration of buildings The chemist Mikel Arandigoyen Vidaurre, of the Department of Chemistry and Soil Sciences of the University of Navarra, has proved the effectiveness of new formulas for the restoration of buildings. In his thesis, defended at the School of Sciences, he proposes a combination of calcium and cement, which is able to strengthen the qualities of both materials.

transect points: Public Access to Public Data

Rapid developments in the UK and UE will encourage those in the USA working to make publicly funded geodata more freely available, and less encumbered with restrictive copyrights and proprietary formats. What goes around, comes around.

Mechanisms of terroir: how soils affect the taste of wine

The most convincing indications in the scientific literature are that the effect of soil type is through its physical properties, and more specifically, through the water supply to the grapevine. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a look at recent research on the indirect effects of mineral nutrition on plant physiology. Although it seems clear that there is no direct link between soils and wine flavour, by framing their activities within the context of a soil-focused worldview and trying to get a bit of somewhereness and minerality into their wines, winegrowers might be vastly increasing their chances of making interesting wine. And that’s something the world needs more of.