Researchers have developed a new, easier way to find the answer to the question, "How much carbon is stored in soil?"
When the Grass is Greener on All Sides
Fertilizers that are widely used on lawns and other vegetation contain nitrogen; an element that helps plants grow – but can also cause significant problems. Because nitrogen dissolves easily in water, events like rain and irrigation wash it into surrounding waterways. There, it can cause overgrowth of algae and free-floating aquatic plants, blocking light. As this growth dies and degrades, it also depletes oxygen from the water, harming aquatic animals.
ARS researchers at the Soil and Water Management Unit in St. Paul, MN, and University of Minnesota collaborators, investigated whether vegetative filter strips – essentially, 50-foot-wide borders of live plants – could remove this excess nitrogen from runoff. They selected and grew a fine fescue grass mixture, then measured levels of two forms of nitrogen in runoff entering and leaving the strips. Their result: the strips removed 40%-98% of the excess nitrogen from the surfaces they bordered, providing a promising approach to protecting our valuable waterways.
Explore Other Discoveries
How Healthy is Your Soil?
Aquatic Plants to the Rescue!
ARS researchers found that keeping plants in drainage ditches can benefit the aquatic ecosystem
Centipedegrass Food for Pollinators
ARS researchers discovered that bees collect pollen from centipedegrass flower heads.
Predicting High-Risk Areas for Wildfires
Researchers developed a forecast tool to determine which areas have the highest probability of a large rangeland fire.
Let’s Hear It for Biogas!
ARS scientists are sounding out a new way to improve biogas production and help the environment.