Course:APBI200/Soil in the News

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Reviewing the New York Times' "A Secret Superpower, Right in Your Backyard"

A PhD candidate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Carly Ziter) is studying the potential for carbon sequestration in soils around Madison, Wisconsin. Samples were taken from 100 different sites including forests, grasslands, and open spaces (i.e. parks, golf courses). Additionally, samples were taken from residential lots which encompasses almost half of Madison. The results of her research, published in the journal Ecological Applications, found that backyard soils have a high potential for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Ziter has found that these soils can lock in more carbon than grasslands or urban forests. These results may influence urban development by including more green space to counteract emissions produced by erecting large buildings and other urban developments. It also may encourage individuals and home owners to minimize pavement in lieu of grass or greenery.

At first I found the article misleading (i.e. urban lawns sequester more carbon than forests or grasslands). However, towards the end of it, they quote an unrelated researcher (Marco Keiluweit) who points out that not all carbon sequestering power is in the soil. The article does a good job at showing the importance of soil in mitigating emissions while keeping it simple enough to understand. It also mentions that there is a great water storage capacity in forest soils. This is likely due to less impaction and more pores in those soils compared to urban green settings. Overall, I liked this article and thought that it might have a positive impact on current ideas surrounding soil.



It's Time to Get Arsenic Out of Baby Food

This article shows the correlation between the sources of groundwater, the soil, the food we eat and health related issues. Arsenic is a metalloid often found in water and in soils. It is released in the environment by natural processes such as weathering and erosion of volcanic rocks and ash but also by human actions. The principal sources of arsenic in Canada are related to industrial emissions in metal refinery facilities and power generating stations (Wang and Mulligan, 2006). Although activities like mining, wood preserving, combustion of coal and use of arsenical pesticides are also important sources of contamination to water and soil. Once the substance is released in the environment, it becomes available to be absorbed by plants. Currently researches are being conducted to evaluate the risks associated with human exposure to arsenic but it is believed that children are at higher risk not only because of type of food ingested but also because of their smaller body weight. According to Rasheed, Kay, Slack, Gong (2018), the arsenic found in raw rice is unavoidable, but some measures like using low arsenic water on crops and on rice cooking could reduce dietary intake.



Blowing soil concerning, 'disappointing' for P.E.I. farmers (by Anika Ng)

The article highlights how a lack of snow cover is one of the main factors contributing to the amount of soil being blown from the fields in Prince Edward Island. It is discussed in the article that the early arrival of winter makes it difficult for farmers to preemptively plant cover crops to protect their fields from these harsh conditions and restore soil nutrients. In addition, due to the rapid change in weather, there were cases where the seeded plants did not properly germinate. Overall, the extreme weather is making it more challenging for farmers to prepare for these unpredictable events. However, it is mentioned in the article that extensive research is being conducted on ways to protect the soil and provide further education for farmers and aid them if similar events occur in the future.

This article helped further my understanding of the impact that alterations in the factors of soil formation may have on soils. In particular, this article highlighted how the varying climate heavily impacted farmers growing their crops. The rapid decrease in temperature, lack of snowfall, and windy conditions provided challenges for keeping the soil on the ground and posed as a large problem for farmers. While the lack of snow covering the fields is one of the main reasons for why the soil is being blown from the fields, it can also be an important indicator towards one of the profound impacts that climate change has on our ecosystem services.



When Earthquakes Liquefy Soil, Devastation Can Follow

The news introduces the definition of liquefaction, some conditions that make the soil become vulnerable to liquefaction during the earthquake and the devastating effects that liquefaction brought to Indonesia. Liquefaction happens when a quake strikes an area with loose moist soil that has been shaken violently, causing the soil behaves like a liquid or suspension with frightening results. Wet and loosely-packed soil, which comprises more sands are more vulnerable to liquefaction. The earthquake makes soil lose strength and stiffness. Consequently, liquefied soil flows like water and loses its ability to support building structures, which is life-threatening to humans in earthquakes.

Liquefaction is related to changing soil physical properties. The earthquake causes significant compaction which would lead to liquefaction. As the water drains out from macropores, the soil porosity decreases and bulk density increases. The original soil structure — for instance, the pore distribution — is completely messed up. As a result, a series of soil physical properties would be altered such as the water and nutrient infiltration and retention, aeration. Additionally, after recovering from the earthquake, the crops which were originally suitable for this soil might not be able to grow well after the earthquake.



More Data, More Land Reclamation Success

The article is about returning soil to its original state (or close to) after the previously undisturbed land has had a pipeline placed in it or, land reclamation. The article focuses on the strategy of collecting soil over such a vast distance and using different amounts of lime and fertilizers to restore a healthy pH level overall. With soil pH levels varying within a mile, it was planned to sample every half mile in order for accurate supplements of the soil. This topic relates very closely to our soil chemistry unit and learning about the importance of soil pH with the optimal pH of soils in resulting in nutrient availability for plants. Within the 350 soil samples collected along the pipeline, there was a range of pH from 4.5 to 8.5. Normally, soil pH "goldilocks zone" is within 5.5 to 7. With this information, they decided to change strategies of adding 2 tons of lime per acre of soil to adding almost no lime to half of the pipeline and almost 3 tons per acre along a quarter of the pipeline. Because the team took many samples, they were able to target the optimal pH level for the majority of the soil. This resulted in fast regrowth of plants and restoration of the land to its original state. This article is important to me because I place a lot of value on green-land on Earth's surface and the fact that we as a population mustn't waste the resources at our disposal.



Soil becomes fertile ground for climate action

This article focuses on soil quality and how it relates to sustainability. Fertile soil has been rapidly degrading and agriculture and ranching companies are investing into healthy soil initiatives. Soil is an important part of climate solution since it is a large carbon store, regulates water, filters pollutants, and supports plants. Many companies have been looking into different techniques such as cover cropping, crop rotation, carbon farming, and regenerative grazing to regenerate the degraded lands. Furthermore, increased funding and research projects have been dedicated to this cause. Recently, a standard was set for the measurements of soil health. Since reports are warning of massive impacts of current farming practices, actions must be taken.

This article relates to our APBI 200 course's later topics such as soil degradation and soil fertility. It is important because our food is grown from agriculture, and if the soil is degraded, either more land must be cleared or the land must be restored to continue agricultural practices. This will ultimately affect the climate, and so researching into restoration is the most sustainable solution.



Farmers in the Midwest Face Decades of Recovery as Flooding Strips Away Crucial Soil

The main concern of this article is the extreme erosion of soils in Nebraska following devastating floods. This is a major concern for the state because much of its industry relies on farming which is dependent on the maintenance of nutrient-rich soils that can support plant like for crops like wheat, corn, and soybean. The rich loam soils of the area were washed away by the extent of the flooding and sand was deposited. With some areas receiving as much as 24 inches, some farmers are being advised to abandon the land altogether. This relates to APBI topics because it is about the texture of the soil and how that affects plant life, water retention, and nutrient retention. This affects me because a similar flood happened in Colorado in 2008 and was devastating for the many farmers in my community.



Study finds Okanagan Lake a ‘surprising source of carbon dioxide’

This news article reported the founding in the Okanagan Lake of its unexpected storage of carbon dioxide. A study conducted by Melanie Jones shows that the lake’s cool water contains bicarbonates that can be transferred in to soil by irrigation. Carbon dioxide in soil can dissociate and contribute to atmospheric carbon emissions. However, carbon dioxide is essential for plant growth. Plant converts from carbon to plant roots and leaves, then release oxygen to the atmosphere. The bicarbonates in irrigation water cause the release of CO2, which contribute the rising level of atmospheric CO2. However, the CO2 also helps plant growth, which can promote heterotrophic respiration, absorbing more CO2.

Carbon is everywhere on the earth; it is abundant in soil organic matter. Carbon dioxide is a typical example of greenhouse gas which contribute to global warming. Hence, soil is crucial in global carbon balance, greenhouse gas and climate change. Photosynthesis of plants and heterotrophic respiration forms the basic structure of carbon cycle. This concept is included in soil biology studied in class. This news is important to understand how carbon is balanced in atmosphere and soil, and soil is a complex body and a single change of its components can lead to multiple consequences.



Rotating use of farmland will bring a harvest of new growth

This news article talks about China’s new strategy of rotating the use of farmland to increase sustainability. The Chinese government will subsidize farmlands that lie fallow for one year or rotate between corn or soybean”. This article closely relates to the soil fertility and soil degradation topics in this course. The Chinese government’s new strategy would discourage monocropping which would deplete the soil of certain nutrients and lead to increased erosion rates. The Chinese government encouraged two soil management strategies, fallowing land and crop rotation. Fallowing soil is a more sustainable land management strategy since it would give farmlands time to replenish nutrients and lead to increased soil fertility. On the other hand, rotating to growing soybeans and corn can also increase the soil’s fertility, as these two crops’ roots accumulate fertilizing nitrogen because these crops have nitrogen-fixing bacteria on their nodules. Crop rotation also reduces soil erosion since it improves soil stability by alternating between crops with different root depths. I am fascinated by this article as did not know that farmers need to rotate crops for farmlands to stay healthy and that farmlands need a ‘break’ from growing crops. Finally, I think having proper soil management strategies is a very vital component to ensure the efficiency of agriculture production and soil health. (by Paul Liu, 68077031)



Farmers in the Midwest Face Decades of Recovery as Flooding Strips Away Crucial Soil

Floods in the Midwest of the United States are proving to cause harm to farmers and their land. In the Nebraska region, flooding caused intense damage to infrastructure and soil, with estimates of up to 440 million dollars in crop losses. The recent flooding was due to extreme moisture content in the soil proceeding winter. Possibly due to climate change, more snow fell as winter rain in Nebraska than before. Water began to runoff the saturated soil and created the damaging floods. In this process, topsoil was washed away with the floodwaters.

In other areas, the floodwaters cut deep into the ground. Water weight contributed to additional compaction of the soil. Large amounts of sand and silt were transported and deposited, which creates problems because they lack both the nutrients and structure of the original soil. Farmers in Nebraska are now facing management decisions and must choose between replanting or recovery for the affected fields. For the ones hit the hardest, it is more cost-effective for them to give up their land than to implement recovery.

This news article is extremely relevant to many of the topics covered in APBI 200. Learning about the water runoff in soils explains why the flooding was so extreme in this case, because saturated soils have no infiltration capacity. Additionally, learning about soil textures and structures and their effect on plant growth explains why large amounts of deposited sand and silt is a problem for farmers.

[Adriana Burton 36958643]



Fire's effect on soil moisture, runoff

This article introduces the interaction of soil's water and fire which acts as a natural disturbance in the ecosystem, and access how will soil's water balance the external changes. The researchers set an experimental model that imitates the wildfire's impact for water balance of a burnt site, and ultimately figure out there're multiple ways that water leaves out. Evapotranspiration occurs when water moves as vapor through pores in the leaves. When the vegetation on the soil surface burnt, evapotranspiration is significantly reduced meaning that less amount of water is moved out. Another mode of water movement is surface runoff, the wildfire burning out those organic layers which store more moisture on the forest floor will cause high infiltration. In other words, heavy rains can supply more water than the ground can absorb. Generally, the degree of fire severity determines the soil's moisture, and the burnt sites turn wetter since the change of evapotranspiration is much greater than change in runoff. Inversely, the high severity will become drier since the runoff changes is lower than that in the evapotranspiration (2018, Hillemann)

This article is an important finding that closely connected with soil's water retention capacity, soil heat capacity and thermal conductivity. The amount of heat in fire transfers to the underground depends on the fire's severity and the soil structure. The forest fire is a common issue around us and it needs to attract more and more attention from the public to minimize the resources loss.

Finnley He (Zhifang He)

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Short post on the news “Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?”

To relieve the severe climate change, some experts put forwards a method called “carbon farming”, which inspires the author to write this news. The aim of the piece of news is to introduce an experiment on carbon farming conducted by a microbiologist David Johnson. The method that Johnson used for this experiment is increase the soil fungal to bacterial ratio.

This news is important to me that I am interested in how to alleviate climate change and I am learning soil science currently. Related to the biology part we have learnt in class, we could tell that although both fungi and bacteria could decompose organic matter into humic substance, fungi are more beneficial because it could help control diseases. Hence, it might keep plants healthy and absorb more carbon from the atmosphere.

To conclude, soil carbon sequestration is not a sustainable way because carbon store capacity is limited in soil but we could still apply carbon farming to control climate change in short term.

Chiyan Huang



Can Microbes Slow Climate Change?

This article relates to the soil organisms portion of the course. It describes experimental research conducted by a researcher named David Johnson. Johnson asserts that by increasing the fungal to bacterial ratio in soils, carbon sequestration of agricultural land can be vastly improved. By applying vermiculture compost to soil, he was able to vastly increase the growth of cover crops, resulting in carbon capture of ~16 metric tons per hectare. He also claims that with a larger proportion of fungi in the soil, less carbon dioxide is released out of the soil by heterotrophic respiration. The article is unclear on a direct causation between the application of vermiculture, increased fungal ratio and increased plant growth (which is the mechanism of carbon sequestration involved). Critics state that his approach is not easy to replicate in that his vermiculture approach may not have the same desired effect on a wide range of soil types, and that the increased carbon sequestration may not be directly due to the increased fungal to bacterial ratio. Furthermore, soils have a certain limit of carbon that can be absorbed depending on various factors, and is not a continuous, ever-accumulating process which limits the usefulness of Johnson's approach for permanent carbon capture. Summary by: Matthew Bavis



Tackling China’s soil pollution may be harder than fighting pm2.5

This news article described the issues of the severe soil pollution in China. The main source of soil pollution is from the agricultural use of pesticides and fertilizers. And industrial activities are also significant sources of soil pollution. The chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers accumulated within the soil throughout the years of agricultural development. The current levels of toxic chemicals within the soil would have significant effects on plant growth. The news report claimed that there are various cases of toxic crops produced on polluted soils in China. The contaminant in the polluted soil is mainly heavy metals, which is very difficult to remove. Not only should people limit the use of pesticides and fertilizers, but they should also devise methods to alleviate the current conditions of the soil. For example, they could use microorganisms such as fungus to extract the heavy metals and other toxic contaminants from the soil. However, the main issue with this topic is that most crop producers in China has limited knowledge about soil science. People would continue to use pesticides and fertilizers to enhance the production of crops. And the soil condition would continue to deteriorate if there are no regulations for the use of pesticides and fertilizers. (Allen Li )



Are no-fun fungi keeping fertilizer from plants?

The key findings from this news report is that Crops cannot grow without phosphorus. More than 45 million tons of phosphate fertilizer is expected to be used worldwide in 2019. But only a small amount of added phosphorus ends up in crops. Fertilizer costs are important for farmers in south Florida, and phosphorus rock, the most widely used source of phosphate fertilizer, is in short supply worldwide. It is believed that phosphorite resources can only be used in the next 50-200 years. Fungi release phosphorus from minerals (rocks) and organic matter (decaying matter) and thus play a significant role in the phosphorus cycle in the soil. From there, the plant absorbs the phosphorus released. "But under certain environmental conditions, fungi may be one of the causes of phosphorus deficiency. Some fungi extract minerals from elements dissolved in soil water. This process is called "bioprecipitation”.However, Without freed-up phosphorus, crops can’t grow successfully. So many farmers in south Florida have kept adding phosphorus to soils. In a continuing cycle, most of this phosphorus becomes unavailable to plants.

This is important to me because this research could also help unravel how land use influences fungal communities in soil. It may also help us better understand vital soil-phosphorus dynamics.And I learned that fungi play a tremendous role in cycling phosphorus within soils. This report relate to topics of soil biological of fungi and phosphorus-cycle in APBI 200. By--Wendy Liu .



Our drying soils: The invisible crisis under our feet

Soils are essential for life because they are many species' habitat, provide the medium for plant growth,and provide foods for people to consume. Due to the advancement of technology, industrial agriculture, and unsustainable development, soil degradation becomes a severe issue nowadays. The Food and Agricultural Organization lead a project, which promotes an alternative farming method instead of the traditional practices which may have direct harm to the soil. Because of the FAO project, the production increases and soils have been well protected. We, humans, are the main cause of soil degradation, and now we should have an awareness of soil degradation and try to help restore and preserve the health of the soil. Just like what David Montgomery, professor of earth and space sciences, said,” Soil health is like human health; it is hard to define, but you sure know when you don’t have it.” The healthiness of the soil had direct correlation not only to the quality of our life but also the lives of the future generation.

This is important to me because I rely on soil for food, and everyone of you also rely on soil to live, and we should work together to preserve it.This article relates to soil degradation in the APBI 200 course. Erin Lin



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change? (by Tristen Bush)

This article is about a potential method to reduce carbon emissions: using agricultural soil as a store. This article points out that, as much of today's earth is used for agriculture, the idea of "carbon farming" is becoming a more and more possible way to combat climate change. However, the big question this is whether or not farmers can engage in these carbon-capturing activities while maintaining high yields for their crops. The scientist featured in this article says that this issue can be solved by increasing the fungal-to-bacteria ratio because fungi use carbon more efficiently, allowing the soil to release less CO2. This was found to improve the soil’s ability to store CO2 by tenfold, though the results are controversial. It was also found that a higher fungal-to-bacteria ratio improves the C/N ratio to encourage plant growth, which relates to the topics of soil microbes and fertility in soil science. Though these results have yet to be replicated on a larger scale, climate change is an enormous issue today and any proposed solution to reduce the effects of CO2 emissions is a step in the right direction. Therefore, this article represents another much-needed method that we can combine with other sustainable actions to fight CO2 emissions and climate change in the long run. This issue is close to my heart as well as my degree, which is why this article intrigued me.



Tateum Cava 53041018: Soil in the News

The news report discusses a research project that is ongoing. The research project entails gardens in urban ecosystems, and their importance. The report goes into detail about the benefits of "healthy soil". They refer to healthy soil as soil with enough organic matter and nutrients to encourage good plant growth. The research project also entails researchers gathering soil and plant samples for 20 different lab tests. This article relates to APBI 200 because they test the soils water retention and fertility. We tested water retention by doing tests such as hand texturing/taste testing to determine the relative portions of sand, silt, and clay in the soil. A soil with a high relative portion of sand has poor water retention, and a soil with a high relative portion of clay retains water well. Article is important to me because this group encourages urban gardening, and if everyone had a garden there would be less green-house gas emissions in the long-run.



Terroir trouble: B.C. vineyards harm soil quality, UBC study says

The article explained that vineyards increase the amount of microbial activity, causing possibly more nutrient availability but fungal abundance was shown to go down. The article was really comparing the differences of a managed vineyard and a vineyard that grows on uncultivated soils with little intervention. Luymes explained how the managed vineyards are causing significant changes in the soils that it the vineyard is planted in, which could cause the flavour of the grapes to change. The uncultivated, less intervention technique could be a better alternative to get better quality grapes and thus, a better quality wine.

This article is important to me because I am concerned with what conventional agriculture does to the land it is being planted up but even more so to what it is doing to the quality of the food it is producing. Less management of agriculture may be more cost effective for a better product. It relates to the course APBI 200 because of microbial activity and the nutrient cycling within soils and how vegetation impacts those cycles.



Better water testing, safer produce

This news is about the effects of different water quality on the quantity of E. coli in plants, since eating uncooked vegetables like lettuce cannot kill E. coli people can lead to bad healthy outcomes. The other way to eliminate E. coli is back to the plants in soil. In addition, water that used to drainage plants is a good conductor of E. coli. Therefore scientists collect water sample monthly and then send them to three different laboratories, to test how well the method result were produced. I interested in this news because it is about our daily life and healthy and me personaly eat a lot of lettuce in food like salad, so I am curious about the result scientists get about the safty of eating this and solutions for situation like that. This news also relative to the APBI 200 course material and detailly the organisms in soil and how can these bactirias effects the growth of plants. The connection between course and my real life give me a specific example of the concept I learned in class and I can understand both of them better by making these connections.



The Caribbean Has A 'Dirty' Solution For Climate Change

Article looks at regenerative agricultural practices being done in the Caribbean. Things like managed grazing, agroforestry, and organic farming all allow the soil to generate more organic matter, and hence improve the soil's ability to retain important nutrient. The article also mentions that these practices improve the soil's ability to sequester carbon. The potential upsides from restoring these degraded soils is enormous. Better soils increase food security, and reduce negative impacts on water supply. Another big upside is that the soils have the potential to sequester a significant amount of carbon, allowing some of these Caribbean countries to become carbon neutral.

This is relevant to me because climate change is a global issue that is relevant to everyone. I also come from a developing country and realize the importance of the soil's ability to meet the food demands of the people on it. Improving the soil quality is an easy way to improve the quality of life of the people.



Right green for crop, environment, wallet

This news introduced a new technology that can control the nitrogen in soil more efficiently so that can maximum the soil productivity. Fertilization act a necessary role in silviculture and agriculture. The productivity of crops influences the price and economy directly and influence the quality of worlds' life indirectly. This is very important and will bring effect to everyone's life. This news is relate to the Nitrogen cycle and Soil chemical in lecture. If the nitrogen fertilizers is too much, the plant will look lush and green, but the ability of fruit and flower will decrease. If the nitrogen content in soil is too low, plant growth is likely to be slow with weak spindly stems and small leaves. It is very important to keep the nitrogen concentration perfect to keep the maximum productivity. This new tools can help us observe the nitrogen content in soil easily and helps us control easily. This will make agriculture more effective and crops can remain on the maximum profivity. This can also reduce the waste of over fertilized.



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?

This article begins pointing out the global carbon issues our world is facing. There are some scientists that think that we should store carbon in the soil to combat the amount that is in the air. The scientist focused on in this article is David Johnson and he believes this can be done while keeping a balance to agricultural used soils. He thinks the way to achieve this balance is implementing the use of microbe-rich solution to aid in plants pulling CO2 from the air. He claims that as the ratio of fungi to bacteria in soil increases, the soil becomes more efficient in utilizing carbon and thus storing it. Other scientists are skeptical about his results, but they continue to test long term and attempt to recreate his results. This is important to me because of the environmental challenges we as a human race are facing. Our current carbon use is negatively impacting every aspect of the environment and is increasing at exponential rates. These need to be slowed if we have hopes of keeping the global temperature rise under 2°C from pre-industrial temperature. The younger generation (me) are faced with these challenges and how to attempt to keep our world as livable as possible for us and future generations. This relates to what we’ve been learning because we have talked about microbes in soil and throughout the course have touched on the responsibility of humans to the soil and how to attempt to use it responsibly.



"How to Turn Dirt Into Soil"

A biologist and a geologist couple who needed to put their potted plants into their backyard soil find out that the soil has glacial till parent material very close to the surface and has thus turned into dirt, making it hard for them to plant anything. They decide to add organic matter to their soil to revive it; They used wood chips, coffee grounds, fallen leaves and oyster/mussel shells to create mulch for their garden. After four years, they discover that the mulch and compost have turned into humus and that their soil has come back to life and now contains soil organisms such as earthworms and mites and now they can grow their plants and food crops such as kale. They realize that all they needed to do bring back life into their garden was to increase the soil’s carbon content by adding organic matter. This article is very interesting and relates to the material learned in this class as it talks about the real-life applications of the course content. For example, we learned that organic matter is very crucial for soil fauna and flora as it helps with aeration, drainage, water retention and much more. In summary, organic matter transforms the soil and resurrects it. (Summarized by Maryam Saffarzadeh 22100234)



Soil pollution ‘jeopardizing’ life on Earth, UN agency warns on World Day

The article exposes some severe problems about soil degradation caused by “thousands of chemicals used in every-day lives” and “tonnes of urban, industrial and agricultural waste” (UN News 2018). It also points out the significance of soil regarding not only providing food but also mitigating poverty. Professor Rattan Lal was awarded the Glinka World Soil Prize for his contribution to “soil organic carbon restoration” and “improvement of soil structure” (UN News 2018). Food and Agriculture Organization emphasizes that every person can help to solve the problems in soil degradation and solid contamination by using products with recycled packaging.

This article relates to several topics covered in APBI 200—N/P cycle, soil organic matter, and soil structure. Excess chemicals would break the N/P cycles in the soil, resulting in imbalanced chemical composition. This might also lead to a decrease in soil organisms since many of them require a certain pH to survive. Professor Rattan Lal restores soil organic carbon to increase organic matter in the soil helping with soil aggregation and the cation exchange capacity of the soil. A good soil structure requires well-developed soil aggregates with a mix of macro- and micropores. This type of soil has good water infiltration and nutrient retention as well as good aeration for plant roots and soil organisms.



Skepticism of Plans for Soil Remediation in the Comox Valley (by Morgan Hamilton)

James Wood writes about contaminated soil that has been dug out of Vancouver Island development and developers plans to deal with it. This soil was "contaminated railbed soil" and was removed during land clearing without any pre-established plan to deal with it. This was allowed as they were issued a permit by the Ministry of Transportation which granted them access to clear land in order to construct a road The article states that the soil was out of risk of riparian contamination as it was more than 50 metres away from a nearby creek and that erosion and leaching were not a worry as the piles were covered by plastic sheetings with "additional erosion and sediment controls installed around them". The article is vague in it's ending stating that the soil will be managed on site but points out that what management looks like can vary greatly depending on a number of variables.

Although the tone of the article is optimistic- my learnings within APBI 200 makes me sceptical of this optimism. The article states that the plastic sheeting was found to be in need of repair after heavy snowfall. I wonder if this soil would have received enough moisture or wind exposure during this time to cause movement of these contaminants to surrounding soil and from there depending on conditions and soil structure move horizontally and vertically across soil horizons effectively introducing these contaminants into soil systems that will not receive remediation.



The City’s Buried Treasure Isn’t Under the Dirt. It Is the Dirt.

This article reports on the status of soils in urban areas, particularly in New York City. Much of New York’s soil found at construction sites has continued to be classified as toxic waste, resulting in the disposal of two to three million tons of soil a year. This waste is often unnecessary because toxic waste is often limited to the soil’s surface, resulting in the waste of the perfectly safe soil underneath it. This waste is significant because as climate change continues to impact the city, soil could be useful for various adaptation methods. One example of this is the need for soil to build levees, protecting communities from rising sea levels. To address this problem a program called PUREsoil NYC has been launched to create demand for soils sourced from construction sites, using them to replace contaminated soils in community gardens. This is the first soil exchange of its kind facilitated by a city government, and it has already saved construction companies an estimated $30 million that would have been spent on transportation of soils to landfills. The program’s main goal is to expose New Yorkers to all that the city’s soil has to offer. In addition the article mentioned the opening of a soil museum in Brooklyn.



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?

"Johnson, a trim 67-year-old microbiologist who is as comfortable using the latest metagenomics technology as he is shoveling cow manure into a composter, thinks society can only maximize carbon storage, increase soil’s water-holding capacity and grow plentiful crops if it restores the soil microbiome. “We currently have very degraded soils physically, chemically, but mostly biologically,” he says. “Microbes restore this balance.”"

With carbon emissions hitting all time highs as we barrel further into our technological future, we are no doubt heading towards catastrophe if we continue the way we are. While many scientists are looking at conservation, resource management, government policy and taxation as ways to slow carbon emissions, some are looking beneath our feet.

It is estimated that half of the world's topsoil has been lost over the past 150 years, and poor management practices have lead to increased degradation. What is missing, says Dr. David Johnson of New Mexico State University, is fungus. There's too much bacteria in our soil, and bacteria off-gass CO2 (unless you're talking about that wild recently discovered deep sea bacteria that absorbs CO2, but our soils aren't at the bottom of the ocean just yet), and so far it seems that increasing the fungal to bacterial ratio can help surface plants absorb more CO2 and overall release less CO2 back into the atmosphere.

Soil management practices may actually be what is killing these fungal networks within the soil. Tilling and tearing apart the top soil is a great way to mix in nutrients but not a great way to preserve mycelium, therefore in competition with bacterial microbes with their single-celled advantage, fungi often loses. While unfortunately peer-reviewed confirmation of these findings are yet to be published, it wouldn't hurt to stop assaulting the soil microbiota and let them do what they do best in carbon and nitrogen cycling.



Eden Project investigates soil future with Plymouth University

In the article I am summarizing, the main idea is based around a study conducted by Plymouth University at the Eden Project site in Cornwall. The study revolves around a study on the topsoil at the project, and the fact that it consists of a mix of wastes from the nearby town, and rests in a location that was previously a post-industrial clay pit. The current project is about moving forward with the soils, and how they can tailor it to support different types of ecosystems, such as the outback in Australia, for one. This is important to me for the reason that being able to tailor soils in order to be able to grow different crops from different biomes in the same vicinity could be extremely useful for combating issues such as world hunger. The costs and problems associated with shipping could be cut out of the process. This relates most to the field of soil chemical and organic properties, as well as soil processes.



Sask. farmers concerned about early melt, lack of soil moisture

This CBC article explains how the farmers in Saskatchewan are worried about a lack of precipitation, which affects the amount of moisture in the soil. This is the second straight year Saskatchewan soils have received inadequate moisture. In the province of Saskatchewan, most areas received only 60-80 percent of the soil moisture required; and other areas received as low as 40 percent of required soil moisture. Shannon Chant, the crop extension specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture, explained how some fields are better at retaining moisture than others. Zero-till or low-till fields are better at trapping water and stop water from moving into streams and rivers.

Two identifiable factors of soil formation have impacted the amount of moisture in the Saskatchewan soils; climate and topography. In climate, when winters are wet with high precipitation, the rainwater will contact the soil and be stored inside. In addition, during higher temperatures, snow will be melt and be utilized as a substitute for rainwater for the soil. With a lack of soil moisture, the farmers in Saskatchewan should use a soil with a soil texture consisting of more clay and silt percentage as these particles have a better water retention than sand particles. In topography, soil moisture (precipitation) likes to move from a high elevation to a low elevation. When the farmland is situation at an area in high elevation, the soil moisture will be transferred downwards to streams and rivers. Therefore, it is important to put farm areas at a lower elevation to not lose soil moisture along with soil nutrients.



Modeling Digs Beyond Soil Properties and Processes

The International Soil Modeling Consortium (ISMC)conference identified that "most current soil and land surface models do not consider the dynamic nature of soil properties". The dynamic nature of soil properties is important to be considered especially with the effects of urbanization and climate change nowadays. The ISMC conference also highlighted that more soil properties should be studied due to the effects of global climate change.



Farmer’s fight to save Britain’s disappearing Earthworms

In Britain, the number of earthworms in soil have declined threatening soil fertility. Earthworms vary from “those that live on the surface, others that feed and dwell in the soil, while a third group makes deep burrows and comes to the surface to feed on dead leaves” (the guardian, 2019). However, the epigeic earthworms, which are surface dwellers, are in critical danger. There numbers have decreased to only “9 per spadeful” yet they previously were three times as much in a spadeful. Earthworms are very important for the soil as they aide nutrient availability, better soil structure, better water infiltration/ drainage, and overall providing finer farmland. They do so by tilling the soil, mixing soil and organic matter, and leaving casts in the soil to become soil aggregates. According to the news report, these earthworms are disappearing due to the “intensive farming practices, mostly excessive tillage and overuse of chemicals”. This is causing poor soil fertility, lower crop yield, loss of carbon from soil, and increasing climate change. This topic relates to the APBI 200 section discussing the importances of soil biology and soil organisms impact on the soil. This information is important to me as I do care about the condition of our soil as without soil, humanity couldn’t survive. Soil health and fertility is very significant as without earthworms it can lead to increasing climate change and lower crop yields. Overall, if farmers can change their farming practices we could possibly prevent this situation from worsening.



Life on Earth Is Under Assault—But There’s Still Hope

This Report done by Stephen Leahy discusses the Earth’s ecosystem declines and some potential solutions to fix it, or at least slow them down. The report discusses an intergovernmental group called IPBES which attempting to protect the biodiversity of the world, and assesses global threats. A later part of the report mentions how public involvement can be critical in progressing with biodiversity protection.


The report mentions how biodiversity is important for soil, and how activities like deforestation and agriculture expansion can ruin the state of the soil. Urban expansion is also another problem briefly mentioned, as that has serious consequences on soil formation and structure. I thought that this was important due to the cycle of soil formation by organic matter, and how decreasing biodiversity may affect the soil in the future. Of course, there are other ways of soil formation, but organic matter is still critical to some soil ecosystems, and ecosystems in general.



Are no-fun fungi keeping fertilizer from plants?

The article discusses the problem of fertilizer using in Florida, and talks about the importance of different species of fungi in the soil. It makes a clearer point of view about the function of fungus in the soil from real case. From the article, I can easily understand that fungus can release phosphorus element and other minerals to the plant and promote phosphorus cycling in the soil.

It offer a more environmental way to fertilize crops and decrease the cost of fertilizer to4 farmers. Furthermore, it relates to soil organic in APBI200.



“The Green Deal could help the Planet”

This news report discusses the possible “more advanced forms of energy sources,” and “shifting to more traditional forms of agriculture,” that could come from attempting to meet the New Democratic plan for the United States to reach net zero carbon emissions by ten years (Deaton, 2019). This plan is called the Green Deal.

The article explains how agriculture is a significant contributor to carbon pollution and the ins and outs of the carbon cycle which we learned about in class. It proposes the idea of ‘carbon farming’ to maximize the soils retention of carbon to extend the storage of said carbon. The author, Jeremy Deaton, also provides some examples of how farmers can help more carbon enter the soil than what gets released. Such as, ”namely disturb the soil as little as possible and till the earth only where necessary. Keep the soil covered in a diverse array of deep-rooted crops. Rotate between cash crops, like wheat, and cover crops, like ryegrass, which nurture the soil and can be fed to livestock. Avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. Protect areas that are rich in plant-life - and therefore carbon ,  such as forests, wetlands, and peat bogs” (Deaton, 2019).

These suggestions may seem very general and rather obvious, but for many, this is an important message to stay sustainable and help move towards making a difference. The article continues discussing the potential economic benefits of the Green Deal but also how we as a society can do so much more with it than simply transitioning to clean energy sources. This information is essential to me because it is vital to everyone and I recommend everyone read this article as it lays things down directly in a very easy to understand both the mechanics and the urgency of our situation.



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change

In this article, Berger reports on the recent research of a microbiologist, David Johnson, on carbon sequestration in soils. As the threat of climate change is becoming ever-present, some researchers are discussing the potential of attempting to increase carbon storage in soil via spiking the fungi concentrations. Johnson’s hope is that he can manipulate fungi concentrations to increase carbon storage while also optimizing agricultural production. He conducts an experiment where microbe-rich solutions are applied to soils. The increased fungi concentration is supposed to pull CO2 from the air due to the microbes conducting photosynthesis. The results found that there was a net increase of almost 11 metric tons of soil carbon per hectare and an increase in crop yields. Despite these positive results, many scientists feel that this hypothesis must be tested many more times before being implemented. Additionally, there are many questions of whether this will be effective large-scale or long-term. This topic is very important as climate change affects soils, agriculture, and food production. It is necessary to determine if there are potential solutions to the degradation of soil health. Climate change degrades the productivity and nutrient retention of soil. Therefore, this could cause damage to the agricultural sector and lead to food shortages. The potential of slowing down climate change by sequestering carbon in soil while increasing crop production could be an incredible step towards healthier soil overall. This topic relates to the soil properties and organisms that lead to carbon sequestration.



A Change in Equipment vs. a Change in Mindset: Refocusing attention on soil health is the driver behind newer technologies

The article introduces a new tillage machine, CurseBuster. It minimizes the impact on tillage by de-compacting the top soil, flattening the crop stalks to cover the soil and fracturing the sub-surface soil. Compared with the full-tillage function, this machine leaves crop residues at the top of soil as a source on biological decomposition. Also, the fracturing opens space for soil organisms to survive. After using this new machine, a farmer found the number of worms in his soil increased a lot. Another benefit is that the machine increases the infiltration and prevent drowning of products. Also, the farmer believes the leaching and run-off in his soil is decreased, which helps retain minerals and nutrients in his soil. The min-tillage approach of CurseBuster increases the population of microbiomes and thus enhance the relationship between plants and microbes which increases the uptake of phosphate and other nutrients of plants. This article is related to the course content of soil physical characteristic. Soil consist of solids, water and air. The proportion of pores is an important characteristic of soil since it influences soil organisms, aeration, infiltration, etc. operation in agriculture usually compacts soil and limits the growth of crops. The improvement in tillage is important for soil health in continuous agriculture and prevents the degradation of top soil. The invention of the new machine is an approach to deal with the issue of losing top soil due to heavy agricultural operation.



Whether fungi keep fertilizer from plants

It is about whether fungi will make the soil fertile. As we all know, soil need some important element to be fertile in order to support plants growth such as phosphorus minerals. Farmer cost a lot on fertilizer to make sure that the soil enrich of those kind of materials. Nevertheless, some scientist find that fungi will contribute to the soil for keeping fertilizer in the soil. One important investigation is that if the fungi can create phosphorus minerals to the soil. “We plan to analyze fungal samples and any biproducts of their growth using a scanning electron microscope,” says Tiedeman. Now scientists are still doing some researches and test and trying to make a conclusion of this investigation. The essential of the article is that "Identifying all processes involved in phosphorus unavailability in calcareous soils will be useful in developing strategies to improve fertilizer use efficiency. " that will be good to the farmer, producer and the environment.



In this news, Alice reported the action of a group of Chinese people catching and killing earthworms for food because it has similar tastes with the pork belly. This action greatly influences the wellbeing of soil in the areas. From the video uploaded, we can acknowledge that the problem is the method they used for catching earthworms. A young man inserted wires into the soil and use electric current to drive the worms to the surface. The method definitely harmed the wellbeing of soil. Firstly, the earthworm is macrofauna living in soil, macrofauna are animals with a body size greater than 1 cm (in longest dimension) such as earthworms, vertebrates, mollusks, and large arthropods. The presenting of them gradually fertile the soil in the area by grinding and break apart the soil aggregate. Once the aggregates are smaller, the soil porosity increases and there is more surface area presenting. Thus, the soil has better water retention ability which ultimately is good for plants and the organism’s growth. Despite the action done by this group of young people, using electricity to catch earthworms is not uncommon in China, where the earthworms are mostly sold for use in traditional Chinese medicine or for fishing bait. I like this news because it’s highly related to soil biology that we learned last month, it helps me review it again.



China’s taste for worms is killing the soil

In this news, Alice reported the action of a group of Chinese people catching and killing earthworms for food because it has similar tastes with the pork belly. This action greatly influences the wellbeing of soil in the areas. From the video uploaded, we can acknowledge that the problem is the method they used for catching earthworms. A young man inserted wires into the soil and use electric current to drive the worms to the surface. The method definitely harmed the wellbeing of soil. Firstly, the earthworm is macrofauna living in soil, macrofauna are animals with a body size greater than 1 cm (in longest dimension) such as earthworms, vertebrates, mollusks, and large arthropods. The presenting of them gradually fertile the soil in the area by grinding and break apart the soil aggregate. Once the aggregates are smaller, the soil porosity increases and there is more surface area presenting. Thus, the soil has better water retention ability which ultimately is good for plants and the organism’s growth. Despite the action done by this group of young people, using electricity to catch earthworms is not uncommon in China, where the earthworms are mostly sold for use in traditional Chinese medicine or for fishing bait. I like this news because it’s highly related to soil biology that we learned last month, it helps me review it again.



Better water testing, safer produce

This article explain the importance association about the better water quality with the safer products, for instances, there are many micro bacterias live in the water, in the meanwhile, people usually eat raw lettuces which grow in natural environment, so there are many safe issues and they are even potential deadly for people, however, to prevent the danger which might widespread through the markets, the public require producers to test their irrigation water to see if it is contaminated microorganisms that can cause illness. The produce industry implements these food safety measures to keep people safe and grow a reliable, nutritious product for consumers. "In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed ten EPA-approved tests to detect generic E.coli in irrigation water. One of these methods called mTEC® is excellent to test generic E. coli, but it is not used commonly in water industry." Actually even though those methods have shown excellent results only if water samples are clean. "But because these methods were developed for drinking water, they are might working as well with environmental water samples, which can contain salts, sediments, and naturally-occurring microbes." Anyway, the most significant and essential way is to prevent the water make people harmful, the water quality should be certified through some subjective testing methods due to guaranty there are less and less microorganisms which are harmful to people.



Soil in News: 20th horse in 2 months dies at Santa Anita racetrack in California

Santa Anita Park is well known race track in Southern California. In early March, the racetrack received a lot of attention. In a span of two months, 20 racehorses were reported dead after racing at the park. Although hundreds of horses race in one day without incident, a 4 year old filly, Eskenforadrink, most recently suffered an ankle injury while racing and was euthanized shortly after. This death occurred only 2 days after Santa Anita Park reopened its main track, Arcadia. Since the spike in racehorse deaths since the winter season began, Arcadia was closed for 4 days for a careful soil inspection. It was investigated whether, recent rainfall contributed to the horses injuries and changes in the racetrack. Mick Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky's Agricultural Equine Programs and Santa Anita Park track Superintendent Andy LaRocco said that the soil had been tested and deemed “ready for racing”. A ground penetrating radar was used to check the texture of the soil and it was verified that the amount of sand, silt, clay as well as moisture was consistent throughout the entire track. It was checked if all the soil components and the cushion, pad and base were in good order. This article is important to me because I was very shocked by this news and the frequency of horse deaths. This topic is very much related to water retention, drainage and texture of soils which we discussed in APBI 200. People were worried that the increased rainfall lead to compaction and hardening of the racetrack, creating high impact on the horses’ legs. The optimal racetrack would have a mixture of sand, silt and clay so that there was water drainage and certain compaction. As I learnt in class, too much clay in certain areas would lead to water build up due to its high specific surface are and micropores.



Soil Mitigating Climate Change

The article Can soil Microbes Slow Climate Change, written by John J. Berger, focuses on the new science of carbon farming. Carbon farming is the practice of changing the chemistry of existing soil so that it can hold more carbon than it does naturally and using this soil across agricultural lands to aid in mitigating climate change.

Berger discusses the work of David Johnson from New Mexico State University and how he’s recognized that to increase the capacity of carbon that can be stored, there needs to be a higher fungal: bacteria concentration than what would naturally occur. The drawback however is knowing whether or not it is practical or achievable for this to grow economically to be able to be on farms everywhere. His work also focuses on restoring current degraded soils with soil microbes to increase quality and production.

This article has a lot of paralleling topics to the soil chemistry lectures that have been discussed this semester. More specifically, focusing on the varying ratios and chemical concentrations in soils and how the soil productivity is dependent on that.

As the potentially catastrophic changes foreseen for the future climate will happen within my lifetime, and having many hobbies heavily reliant on sensitive weather zones, such as alpine skiing and scuba diving, I am very motivated to be educated on and promote different ways to mitigate climate change.



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?

This article discusses the findings of a soil scientist on the potential for fungi to aid in fighting climate change. David Johnson of New Mexico State University thinks feels that overall, soils are primarily lacking in terms of biological life within them, and that enhancing the soil microbiome would be extremely beneficial, due to their abilities to "maximize carbon storage, increase soil’s water-holding capacity and grow plentiful crops". His study results were incredibly positive. He found that adding a microbe-rich solution to fast growing crops "reported a net annual increase of almost 11 metric tons of soil carbon per hectare on his cropland. That’s equivalent to removing about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide per acre from the atmosphere annually". This applies to course material because of all that we have learned about soil microbes, especially Johnson's belief that focusing more on the abilities of fungi in soils is particularly important because of their "efficiency". However, other studies in this realm did not have these same findings, however they were conducted in vastly different climates and soil types. This point also applies to what we have been learning, as a critique of his work in this study is the limited types of soils that he studied. As a different scientist points out, his work is lacking because "the rate of carbon gain will depend on a host of interactive factors, including soil properties, previous management practices, climatic conditions and the vagaries of human whims.”



Changing relationship with fungi and phosphorous.

Plant available phosphorous is an essential nutrient plant needs to grow in a healthy state, which is why gardeners and foresters keep on adding phosphorous with fertilizers. However, realistically, only a fraction of phosphorous added through fertilization would be plant available. In many regions, fungi had played a huge role in supporting plants and other organisms in the soil by converting phosphorous into plant available phosphorous. According to Tiedeman, in specific areas such as Florida, fungi is actually acting as a negative source for plants, converting phosphorous into plant non-available. He is bringing in fungi to the lab to assess and achieve more concrete evidence to this. This is important to me because in class, we learnt how the nutrient cycle works and how different organisms such as bacteria and macro fauna contributes to the whole soil forming processes, eventually leading to the support to plant growth. If fungi turns out to be a possible nutrient degrading factor, then it will affect a lot of crops.



Fukushima grapples with toxic soil that no one wants

March 11th, 2011, also known as the day of the “triple disasters” is something that devastated the entire world. The tsunamis caused by the earthquake have quickly wiped out cities after cities, causing thousands of fatalities. Yet what made the situation worse was the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant, which exploded due to a nuclear core melting down. As a result, surrounding cities have been evacuated, as the radiation has spread throughout the Fukushima prefecture. This article by The Guardian highlights the ongoing issue of the radioactive topsoil removal initiative, which has been a controversy for quite some time. The process of removing the soil was to simply put them in a large plastic bag, and stacking them up in an open field, and waiting three decades until the radiation levels decrease. Although, due to the high volume of soil which needs to be removed, the government has started to look for alternative locations to store the radioactive soils. The Japanese government has pledged to move all radioactive soils to a facility outside of Fukushima by 2045, yet the residents of Fukushima is very pessimistic. This topic is something important due to the fact that I'm Japanese, and I can be directly affected by this issue. This is a very important issue which connects back to this course since I believe that putting radioactive soil in a plastic bag is not the most effective method for solving this issue, and there can be much more effective alternatives.



The article is talking about new research predict the form University of California. Because of humans' behaviors environment changes a lot in the recent year. At the end of the 21st century, intensify the water cycle and contribute to more flash flooding and soil erosion As a natural resource conservation student climate change is the most important part I should focus on and study for it. The soil is the most critical resource for the human to living on the earth. In the article, author mentions that “In a paper published Sept. 5 in Nature, the scientists studied the impact of climate change on macroporosity -- the number of large pores in the soil. Macropores, which are greater than 0.08 mm in diameter, allow water to be absorbed easily into the surrounding soil, where it can be used by plants, transport nutrients, and eventually make its way back into underground aquifers. ” which is related to our course what we study for. Overall, this article combines several courses which I have to learn. The text which I mention is relative with APBI 200 course material. That helps me understand what this article talks about and realize how climate change influence soil.



When Earthquakes Liquefy Soil, Devastation Can Follow

Liquefaction is discussed in this article. Liquefaction is the process where saturated soil loses strength and takes a liquid like form due to violently applied stress, such as that of an earthquake. An example of this is explained in Indonesia, where several thousand homes in and around the city of Palu where destroyed during the earthquake, due to the decreased soil strength at the base of these buildings from liquefaction . Loose sandy soil structures are explained to be a sole reasons for liquefaction, due to large macropores and their ability to easily be mobilized. This article reminds me of an 2011 earthquake in New Zealand that my cousin experienced. She was trapped in a building for a couple hours that collapsed due to liquefaction of the soil surrounding the old building. This article relates to soil structure and its effect on soil strength, pore size and distribution and drainage abilities.



summary of "Getting to the core of underwater soil"

soils under water are not traditional soils. But there are a lot of people lives within coastal cities and they are making money on aquaculture, it is certain that these soils have their values and some professionals are working for better understanding the value and function of them. Our cultivation on land could also affect the soil under water. Fertilizer on land may runoff into water. which could reduce the oxygen available for fishes and plants. National cooperative soil survey maps are a database by which researchers can add and share data about soil properties. Soil underwater is quite resilient, our learning might help it. we are also learning the soil for the health and profits of people.

I am interested in this news because it has long been a question for me-- "How could a small pond be a habitat for hundreds of fishes and shrimps". This news is related to "soil Chemistry" chapter in Apbi200.



Interdisciplinary approach the only way to address devastating effects of soil erosion (by Shihan Zhang)

The article is talking about soil erosion like a disaster for traditional farming landscapes in developing countries. However, that effects can only be adequately addressed through significant advances in interdisciplinary scientific and societal approaches, during new research. For some countries soil erosion like a barrier which is hard to access it and solve the problem. That means some countries will face food problem because of soil erosion. The article which I read is relative with APBI 200 course material. That helps me understand what this article talks about and realize how soil important to human lives on the earth. As a natural resource conservation student, I understand how is soil important to human. However, I do not realize impacts from soil erosion for the environment. After reading this article, I will put more focus on how soil influenced climate.



Land degradation threatens human wellbeing, major report warns

This report mainly shows the serious degradation of the earth's soil. This has given the contemporary people a very serious challenge. The fertile soil disappears at a rate of 24 billion tons per year, indicating that the soil available for use is decreasing over time. The main cause of this phenomenon is the over-exploitation of human land, and excessive grazing has caused the loss of soil nutrients. At the same time, including the substantial increase in the size of the population, it has caused some damage to the soil. Degradation and loss of soil can cause some outbreaks of viruses and exacerbate some natural disasters. This also led to the migration of humans, because the poor soil cannot solve their food and clothing problems, when life is facing difficulties, people will choose to seek new places to live. Let us imagine how humans would survive without the cultivation of vegetables and fruits and the land for raising livestock. We know that there are not many organic matters in the soil. Some soil properties are not very good, and they can't retain a lot of organic matter and nutrition. In addition, the effects of human activities have further worsened the degradation of the soil. We cannot let this situation develop, and serious soil degradation is not a good natural phenomenon. The soil is one of the most important components of the earth. If humans still want to survive, they must protect the soil in order to obtain a series of natural gifts.



Climate change-induced salinity affecting soil across coastal Bangladesh

The article said that the coastal areas of Bangladesh pose a great threat to primary production systems, coastal biodiversity and human health because of gradual salinity invading. According to country's Soil Resources Development Institute (SRDI), salinity increased around 26 percent in the country in the past 35 years, spreading into non-coastal areas as well. For example, form 83.3 million hectares in 1973 to 105.6 million hectares in 2009. In addition, this article shows some real cases affected by soil salinity, for example, crop loss, biodiversity loss, and the shortage of available freshwater.

This article is related to APBI 200’s topic of soil salinization. It is essential because lots of countries also experience this situation, soil salinization causes soil compaction, plants and agriculture do not have enough available water to absorb, and diversity reduction. Moreover, drink water with a high percentage of salt will affect human and animals’ health.



Getting to the Core of Underwater Soil

This article expresses the necessities in more studies and researches being conducted on underwater soils. With constant revelations being made around soils daily, it is astonishing how little is known about underwater soils. Underwater soils affect us humans through recreation, commercial as well as transportation means and so it should be expected to know more than what little we know. It is essential to understand and the fundamental elements of these soils and their characteristics with around 71% of the Earth’s surface covered in water and it being home to 50-80% of all life on Earth. These life forms are affected by the conditions of the soils in their habitat. Excess fertilizers that are added to soils often drain off into bodies of water which causes an influx algae growth. When the large populations of algae die and decompose, the underwater soils start losing organisms that once used to inhabit the area. Aquatic vegetation also depends on the nutrients that the soils have retained. The actions of human activities heavily influence the underwater soils which then affects the wildlife in the water.

This is especially important to me as Vancouver is just off the coast with a body of water as a border. The activities that we do almost directly affect the condition of underwater soils. We should be able to classify the soils in order to benefit the wildlife around us and recognize the affects of human activity on them. More research should be conducted as it makes up such a large portion of the Earths area. This article relates to APBI 200 as underwater soils are another soil body that could be beneficial to us in the future. It could affect the vegetation and agricultural techniques being used today. More advances should be made indefinitely.



Soil Microbes and Climate Change

This news post looks at the research of David Johnson, a soil scientist who believes that we can both increase agricultural yields while also capturing carbon in our soils by restoring the largely degraded microbiomes in these soil ecosystems. To test this idea, he applied a solution rich in microbes from vermiculture compost onto his crops. The idea was this would act as a food source for nematodes, arthropods, and other organisms which are beneficial to plants. Following a 4-year study, he found that he had very high crop yields, and he had managed to capture close to 11 metric tons of C/hectare on the cropland. His current hypothesis is that the microbe solution allowed for more efficient cycling of carbon and other nutrients among soil organisms, which ultimately led to the plants releasing less CO2 into the atmosphere. This information is important to me because, as one who is going to grow up in a world strongly affected by climate change and potentially food shortages and a growing population, this gives me hope that we might not be completely screwed. The main topics in the course that this relates to are soil organisms, nutrient cycling, soil organic matter, and how these three things interact with each other to affect plant growth.



Wetland carbon storage controlled by millennial-scale variation in relative sea-level rise

This article discusses and highlights how coastal wetlands including marshes, mangroves and seagrasses already store carbon more efficiently than any other natural ecosystem including forests, because they sustain the highest rates of carbon sequestration per unit area of all-natural systems. Also, primarily because of their comparatively high productivity and preservation of organic carbon within sedimentary substrates. The data collected suggested that carbon concentrations doubled or nearly quadrupled in just the top 20 centimeters of soil, which comes from the carbon added to wetland soils by plant growth and the sediment is buried faster as wetlands become wetter. Trapped underwater with little to no oxygen, the organic detritus does not decompose and release carbon dioxide as quickly. And the higher the waters rise; the more underwater storage space exists for the carbon to get buried.

This topic is important not only to me but other residents of British Columbia, as we have many coastal wetland areas such as Delta. The relative sea lever rise increases the rate of organic carbon burial in coastal wetlands, however the carbon climate feedback effects have diminished over time as wetlands are increasingly submerged and carbon stores become compromised by erosion. This affects many of us because erosion is a form of loss of nitrogen from the soil, which is essential for plant growth. This is related to APBI 200, referring to the C/N ratio which is necessary for plant growth. The preservation of coastal wetlands is critical as they are to play a role in sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change.



Harnessing soil microbes to enhance crop performance

The article introduces a newly identified bacteria called Ensifer adherens, which can enhance plants’ resistance to diseases by improving their characteristics. Ensifer adherens is an alternative to Agrobacterium tumefaciens that functions similarly but can modify a wider range of plants with greater efficiency. E. adherens has a more mutually beneficial relationship with plants compared to Agrobacterium whereas some plants consider it as a pest. Thus, E. adherens is now used as a modifier for many important crops such as “tobacco, oilseed rape, rice, safflower and cassava.” Scientists acknowledge its potential to produce new potato species resistant to late blight; farmers’ demand towards expensive fungicides would significantly decrease if introducing E. adherens-modified potatoes. The article also explains the importance of rhizosphere, the place E. adherens was discovered, in adjusting the soil quality around the roots and providing life essentials for other microbes. The news allows me to learn the most recent research on soil organisms and how microbes specifically help with plant growth. While it relates to the soil biology topic we covered in class, specifically, micro-fauna and rhizosphere. We also talk about that bacteria like actinobacteria and endophytic bacteria protect plants from pathogens and produce antibiotics. The rhizosphere is the zone affected by the secretion of plant roots that gives birth to microbes.



Harnessing soil microbes to enhance crop performance

The article introduces a newly identified bacteria called Ensifer adherens, which can enhance plants’ resistance to diseases by improving their characteristics. Ensifer adherens is an alternative to Agrobacterium tumefaciens that functions similarly but can modify a wider range of plants with greater efficiency. E. adherens has a more mutually beneficial relationship with plants compared to Agrobacterium whereas some plants consider it as a pest. Thus, E. adherens is now used as a modifier for many important crops such as “tobacco, oilseed rape, rice, safflower and cassava.” Scientists acknowledge its potential to produce new potato species resistant to late blight; farmers’ demand towards expensive fungicides would significantly decrease if introducing E. adherens-modified potatoes. The article also explains the importance of rhizosphere, the place E. adherens was discovered, in adjusting the soil quality around the roots and providing life essentials for other microbes. The news allows me to learn the most recent research on soil organisms and how microbes specifically help with plant growth. While it relates to the soil biology topic we covered in class, specifically, micro-fauna and rhizosphere. We also talk about that bacteria like actinobacteria and endophytic bacteria protect plants from pathogens and produce antibiotics. The rhizosphere is the zone affected by the secretion of plant roots that gives birth to microbes.



This article described the issue of climate-induced soil changes may result in a series of natural disaster. There are several reasons why climate change cause more and more erosion and flash flooding, the scientists researched the influence of climate change on macro porosity, the great number of large pores, especially large than 0.009 mm in diameter, it has better water absorption and transfer into the surrounding soil, which can used by plants and return to underground aquifers. According to the research data, scientists tested changes in macro porosity across a rainfall, temperature and humidity gradient. They found macro pores were more likely to develop in climate which is drier compared with humid climates. Therefore, the result could be less infiltration of water into the ground, it also cause more surface runoff and erosion, and more flash flooding. In addition, this mews is important to me because I am a forestry student and I am really concerned about the environmental protection issues. Moreover, related to the knowledge that we have learnt in class, I found this news article has strongly connection to it. For instance, water potential gradient which is the change in water potential per unit distance along the axis of flow, also we know that hydraulic conductivity is affected by soil porosity, pore size, water content and tortuosity.



Climate-induced soil changes may cause more erosion and flash flooding

This article described the issue of climate-induced soil changes may result in a series of natural disaster. There are several reasons why climate change cause more and more erosion and flash flooding, the scientists researched the influence of climate change on macro porosity, the great number of large pores, especially large than 0.009 mm in diameter, it has better water absorption and transfer into the surrounding soil, which can used by plants and return to underground aquifers. According to the research data, scientists tested changes in macro porosity across a rainfall, temperature and humidity gradient. They found macro pores were more likely to develop in climate which is drier compared with humid climates. Therefore, the result could be less infiltration of water into the ground, it also cause more surface runoff and erosion, and more flash flooding. In addition, this mews is important to me because I am a forestry student and I am really concerned about the environmental protection issues. Moreover, related to the knowledge that we have learnt in class, I found this news article has strongly connection to it. For instance, water potential gradient which is the change in water potential per unit distance along the axis of flow, also we know that hydraulic conductivity is affected by soil porosity, pore size, water content and tortuosity.



Lupins provide more diversity in unilateral energy crops cultivation

Sorry, it's in german. This article talks about a new research project called "LuMi-opt" at Julius-Kühn-Institut (german federal research center for cultivated plants). Goal is to study how the combined use of Lupines and Corn can improve soil fertility and reduce the amount of artificial fertilizer. This is due to the N-fixing ability of the legumes and the deep growing roots who bring humus deep in the soil. To study the effects and the efficiency of the combined cultivation, the researchers plant Corn, which needs vast amounts of Nitrogen, and the Lupines (Lupinus mutabilis) together in different ratios while monitoring the growth and biomass. This is important to me, because I think it is a good idea to reduce the use of fertilizers and incorporate more natural ways. It relates to the topic of Soil Biology and Nitrogen fixing.

Plus, it's good food for Bumblebees!



Are no-fun fungi keeping fertilizer from plants?

This article shows that there is some phosphorus that is not available for plant to use in the soil because of some fungus in the soil. This leads the low effectiveness of adding phosphorus and those phosphorus which is not available and stay in soil "forever" is the big issue of environment globally. It is important to me because the country I am come from is an agricultural country (China) and most of the farmers are not able to measure the effectiveness of their fertilization, they just buy and use them. I think if the reason of this can be figured out, farmers in my country can spend less money to fertilize better. The topic that relates to it in APBI200 is the soil fertility-nutrients.



Root exudates affect soil stability, water repellency - Shruti Sridhar

This news report talks about the advantages that roots which produce exudates have in terms of maintaining soil structure and increasing water absorption properties. Roots produce exudates that act as binding agents that can hold soil particles together and help increase soil aggregation. As learnt in class, this reduces chances of erosion and increases soil fertility as plants are able to grow on a soil which can hold nutrients and water. These exudates also influence shrink swell properties and how fast or slow water is absorbed and let out. This in turn affects how well plants can absorb nutrients and hence affects their growth. According to this report, there are certain crops which produce exudates that are more binding than others, for example barley produces exudates that have more binding properties compared to corn. I think that this research is important because of increasing urbanization and human impact on soils which have reduced soil aggregates and altered soil composition, especially closer to the surface. This has caused a decrease in the number of and kind of plants that can grow in urban environments. Combined with adding a top soil layer or soil beds, if we can grow crops that have more soil binding properties, we may be able to combat the growing problem of erosion because of continued deforestation and anthropogenic damage to soils in urban areas. This will also help to reduce food scarcity and simultaneously help us increase sustainable food production practices.

-Shruti Sridhar



Getting to the Core of Underwater Soil

This news report discusses the possible “under water soil".It is essential to understand the characteristics of this soil, where about 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water and 50 to 80 percent of all life on Earth. These forms of life are affected by the soil conditions of the habitat. When soil moisture can be measured in the fields, farmers can optimize water usage. And it can help them this way so that they don't use too much or too little in dry areas where water is limited. And also, scientists can estimate the water content of the soil by using information collected by antennas from waves. Waves move more slowly when there is more water in the soil, it added. When there is less water, they move faster.

The reason why I thought this was important is because of we living in Vancouver, which is along the border just off the coast. And also, the activities we do affect the condition of the underwater soil almost directly. Why this article is related to APBI 200 is because that under water soil is another soil that can benefit to us in the future. And it can affect the plant and agricultural technologies used today.



Root exudates affect soil stability, water repellency

Hallett and fellow researchers at the University of Aberdeen have been focusing their research on the effects of plant’s roots on soil. This is directly related to the section in APBI 200 where we talk about how plants make various chemical secretions in the form of exudates near the rhizosphere region. As taught in class, plant root exudates help hold soil together apart from enhancing plants’ procurance of nutrients and provide food sources for microbes. Exudates also act like cementing agents to help soil aggregate formation. Hallett and his team have been taking small-scale measurements near root surface to see the impact of plant root exudates on sandy loam soil and clay loam soil respectively. They also looked at how exudates are different from different plants, reaching the conclusion that while corn’s exudates increase how well soil particles are held together and impact soil water repellency, barley’s exudates only have a minor impact. This is important because it shows different plants are interacting with the surrounding soil in a different manner. As Fisk concluded, “all of these interactions affect the amount of water that is captured by soil and absorbed by plants” (2018, para. 12). Further research on how the age of roots might be a factor affecting the intensity of soil-holding and water retention is needed.


Alina Zeng Ziyun



Urban Growing

Urban agriculture can hold a variety of benefits to communities; however, they also pose a handful of challenges to those willing to put in the work. This article well highlights all that goes into the art of urban growing. To begin, many urban growers have different values and goals for their gardens. One may focus more on growing culturally-relevant food while the other may work to build community reconciliation and camaraderie. However, the significant challenge they face are similar. One example is land access where planting can be prevented by taxes, city codes, and lease expirations. They also have trouble when they find items such as copper wires and chemical contamination in the soil. As learned in class, this raises the question whether food grown on these sites which can have traces of these contaminants in them should be consumed. Furthermore, researchers have been comparing urban garden data to urban farms and urban green spaces. This provides information on the urban agricultural ecosystem services. Moreover, this article relates to the urban soil section of the APBI 200 course. This topic is important because the number of urban agricultures are growing and we need to quickly gain more data on the advantages and disadvantages on this practice. Hopefully, this research will help teach growers, policymakers, and communities more about urban growing and lead to a future of better, smarter land decisions.



Soil Health Matters

This podcast from CBC addresses the importance and problems that are currently prominent within Ontario’s soils and climate change. It states that soil health is important because every piece of food eaten has most-likely touched soil and that eroding soil can contaminate water ways resulting in a reduction of topsoil, ocean acidification and algae blooms. Healthy soil supports diverse flora and fauna, holds carbon and has rich and abundant organic matter (soil biology). It was discussed why this decrease is occurring and relayed that it is due to poor agricultural traditions such as over tillage and synthetic fertilizers which end up stripping the organic matter off the soil. The lack organic matter reduces nutrient and water retention (soil physics and nutrient cycles) and results in a decrease in health. If this problem can be reversed was the following topic which was found to be yes. However, they made it clear that it is much easier to release Carbon from the soil than it is to begin absorbing and storing carbon which is how this all effect climate change. The creating of soil organic matter can and is done but it is very time consuming and difficult, so therefore it can be reversed but will take a lot of time and hard work. Ways to fix this problem are buying local foods, making SOM levels public knowledge, expanding to knew agriculture practices and most importantly changing farms so they produce a crop that is fitted for each local environment.



What do gardens bring to urban ecosystems?

This article is in order to determine how soil can be a resource for human and environmental health in urban agriculture. It highlights that healthy soil has enough organic matter and nutrient to encourage good plant growth. It also has a loose structure rather than compacted so that the water movement can be easily transfered. Based on this concept, the identification of healty soil will broadly extent to other soil organisms such as bacteria, insects, wildlife and even human. The content of this article can incorporate with the soil nurtrient cycle and soil biology part of our lecture and textbook.



More water capacity, Less weathing effects

This article highlights how weathering and soil cover technology are main factors contributing to apple trees’ growth. It introduces the effects weathering could make on apple trees’ growth relating to the soil cover and how scientists develop the new soil cover technology to reduce the effects weathering on apple trees’ growth. Soil straw mulching in orchards can significantly improve the quality of soil, enhance the organic matter, provide nutrition for fruit trees, enhance the conversion function of fruit trees to sunlight, contribute to the development of tree body and root, and improve the yield and the quality rate of fruit. Mulching orchards can also suppress weeds and prevent them from competing with fruit trees for soil moisture and nutrients. After mulching in the orchard can adjust the soil temperature, temperature can slow down the bud flowers. The use of plastic mulch can effectively prevent the evaporation of water by sunlight, maintain the soil moisture, keep the soil warm, and promote the absorption capacity of roots. Thus, in the film after the water can be more concentrated, heat preservation, humidification, the role of water concentration. Ming Lou



This article provide a new type of solution for global warming, as it mainly talks about how does the soil condition influence the level of co2 emission. David Johnson claims that the fungal-to-bacterial ratio is positive in relation to the capacity of carbon storage. Jonson states that “we currently have very degraded soil physically, chemically, but also biologically, and microbes restore this balance”. And he conducts precise experiments based on this hypothesis of how to increase the capacity of agricultural systems to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. He plated a fast-growing cover crops and applies a rich in microbe field derived from a worm compost produced of his design. The bacteria, protozoa and fungi fed soil food web if nematodes, microarthropods and other beneficial organisms. Through photosynthesis the atmospheric carbon absorbed by roots and sank down into the earth. The result is significant and highly controversial as Johnson reported there is a net annual increase of 11 metric tons of soil carbon per hectare on the cropland, which is equivalent to 10 times of the increase that other scientist have reported in many other different soils and climates. Besides Johnson is also conducting other laboratory studies on the correlation among fungal-to-bacterial ratios and soil health. From his result, he concluded that increasing in fungal-to-bacterial ratio with a plus large increase in soil carbon and other nutrients as a result of management practice. From his assumption, I remember when we first learn the factors of soil forming process, one of them is biota, which includes most of the organism inside of the soil. All of the organisms are the microbes which affect the soil formation. Microbes often create more room for air and nutrition and provides more nutrients for the plants. Although peer-reviewed soil science literature are admitted to some extent, other findings in submerged, forested soils—exert different circumstances—failed to confirm the relation.



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?

This article provide a new type of solution for global warming, as it mainly talks about how does the soil condition influence the level of co2 emission. David Johnson claims that the fungal-to-bacterial ratio is positive in relation to the capacity of carbon storage. Jonson states that “we currently have very degraded soil physically, chemically, but also biologically, and microbes restore this balance”. And he conducts precise experiments based on this hypothesis of how to increase the capacity of agricultural systems to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. He plated a fast-growing cover crops and applies a rich in microbe field derived from a worm compost produced of his design. The bacteria, protozoa and fungi fed soil food web if nematodes, microarthropods and other beneficial organisms. Through photosynthesis the atmospheric carbon absorbed by roots and sank down into the earth. The result is significant and highly controversial as Johnson reported there is a net annual increase of 11 metric tons of soil carbon per hectare on the cropland, which is equivalent to 10 times of the increase that other scientist have reported in many other different soils and climates. Besides Johnson is also conducting other laboratory studies on the correlation among fungal-to-bacterial ratios and soil health. From his result, he concluded that increasing in fungal-to-bacterial ratio with a plus large increase in soil carbon and other nutrients as a result of management practice. From his assumption, I remember when we first learn the factors of soil forming process, one of them is biota, which includes most of the organism inside of the soil. All of the organisms are the microbes which affect the soil formation. Microbes often create more room for air and nutrition and provides more nutrients for the plants. Although peer-reviewed soil science literature are admitted to some extent, other findings in submerged, forested soils—exert different circumstances—failed to confirm the relation.



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?

This article provide a new type of solution for global warming, as it mainly talks about how does the soil condition influence the level of co2 emission. David Johnson claims that the fungal-to-bacterial ratio is positive in relation to the capacity of carbon storage. Jonson states that “we currently have very degraded soil physically, chemically, but also biologically, and microbes restore this balance”. And he conducts precise experiments based on this hypothesis of how to increase the capacity of agricultural systems to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. He plated a fast-growing cover crops and applies a rich in microbe field derived from a worm compost produced of his design. The bacteria, protozoa and fungi fed soil food web if nematodes, microarthropods and other beneficial organisms. Through photosynthesis the atmospheric carbon absorbed by roots and sank down into the earth. The result is significant and highly controversial as Johnson reported there is a net annual increase of 11 metric tons of soil carbon per hectare on the cropland, which is equivalent to 10 times of the increase that other scientist have reported in many other different soils and climates. Besides Johnson is also conducting other laboratory studies on the correlation among fungal-to-bacterial ratios and soil health. From his result, he concluded that increasing in fungal-to-bacterial ratio with a plus large increase in soil carbon and other nutrients as a result of management practice. From his assumption, I remember when we first learn the factors of soil forming process, one of them is biota, which includes most of the organism inside of the soil. All of the organisms are the microbes which affect the soil formation. Microbes often create more room for air and nutrition and provides more nutrients for the plants. Although peer-reviewed soil science literature are admitted to some extent, other findings in submerged, forested soils—exert different circumstances—failed to confirm the relation.



Woolly Star Plants Need Catastrophes to Live

This article talks about the current state of a perennial plant named the woolly star (Eriastrum densifolium) which grows on loose and unstable clay, silt, sand, and gravel left by infrequent, large floods in the Santa Ana River floodplain of southern California. The perennial plant became endangered after flood controls measures were implemented, reducing its habitat. The researchers hypothesized that soil treatments mimicking catastrophic floods will help reestablish woolly star plants, while taking no action will favor invasive grasses and other exotic plant species and simulations of vegetation and soil being scoured away by rushing floodwaters resulted in the highest rate of woolly star survival. This topic relates more to soil physics and also soil organism interactions. Normally plant roots have the most beneficial conditions when soil aggregates form due to higher soil pore space for the roots to grow due to a lower specific surface area. However, it turns out that not all plants require well aggregated soils, instead, this particular plant need much more dispersed since it is diluted in running water.



Article: Soft Soil Makes Mexico Shake Like It Was Built on Jelly

Article: Soft Soil Makes Mexico Shake Like It Was Built on Jelly

Mexico City centre is currently “sinking”, which appears to be the product of the bad soil properties the city’s ground has. In September 2017, there was a big earthquake which had an increased damage due to the soil present in this area. In addition, the city was built on top of an ancient lake which has increased the factors provoking the disastrous outcomes of this shakes.

NBC News published an article written by Ronaldo Schemidt on September 2017, analyzing the consequences of the major shake, noticing the important role that the soil under which Mexico City has been constructed can present, and highlighting how can this be a great threat to its stability. The article Soft Soil Makes Mexico Shake Like It Was Built on Jelly appears to be of high importance today, as it is still causing the city to shrink, and has major implications in the City buildings. The University of Cambridge had major findings, pointing out that the soft soil, has created exaggerated effects of the earthquakes in this area.

Though the article was written in 2017, the problem continues and there is not recent study that aims to understand how the soil conditions are affecting the city. The city continues to shrink, and many buildings remain under danger. This for me is of great importance, as I live in Mexico City, and believe that security measures should be implemented. Even though the problem appears to be a wicked problem, we must understand the consequences the soil conditions can have, and understand how can this have major effects on the stability and structure of the urbanized area. Mexico City is one of the most populated cities in the world, and if we don’t find a solution it can have major implications. ( written by Dileri Berdeja Montalvo)

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/soft-soil-makes-mexico-city-shake-it-was-built-jelly-n803166?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_ma&fbclid=IwAR0kDc8Rou5KOcHwHfGTcMpJ2_0x1aruwAR6eu4SCondGcQuUez1kdP0GQQ

Manure application changes with winter crop can cut nitrogen loss, boost profits

The main idea of the article suggested in the article is that dairy farmers found that water quality and profitability could be improved if the timing and method of applying manure to fields are changed. The experiment is done by the "three-factor factorial experiment," where researchers compared the result of injecting manure into the soil and allow the crops to grow until planting rye as a winter cover crop versus allowing the rye to grow longer in the spring and harvesting it as forage; and applying manure before the cover crop is planted in September. As a result, they can produce more feed for their cattle and reduce the amount of nitrogen lost from their fields. If dairy farmers have access to manure-injection equipment, it is possible to create a better result with fewer resources needed as the supplier, at the same time, there would also be more environmentally friendly.

I found this article related to Apbi200 because other than the chemistry behind how things work, this also tells us the most basic concept in soil science, which is the combination of the use of the five factors of soil formation. All climate, biota, temperature, parent materials and time are considered in this case. This indicates that these factors are the basics of things we are going to go through in this field.



Bridge that collapsed six hours after opening was built without geotech investigation of riverbed: Reeve & No geotechnical study done on riverbed where new bridge collapsed in Saskatchewan, reeve says

The geotechnical data for the Dyck Memorial Bridge project at Saskatchewan was not taken – meaning that the engineers who built the bridge did not know the soil properties of the foundation of the bridge. This has caused the bridge to collapse 6 hours after opening. Even though, there were no injuries, but it has caused a lot of issues to the engineers and the end users. Issues include people not being able to cross the Swan River and spending more money to fix/rebuild the bridge.

From researching more on the news, I learnt that soil has to be checked in order to know the properties of the soil. This can show us how strong the soil is (the soil’s bearing capacity). By knowing the soil properties, we can know the maximum height and weight of the building that the soil can hold. Besides that, we can also decide on which materials, such as timber, concrete and steel, to use for the framing structure of the building.

The engineers might not have collected the soil data because they considered it as a negligible matter. Other than that, it might be because a geotechnical test was done in the past. Even so, the results should not be used anymore because the soil properties might have changed. A lot of things that could have happened include earthquakes, acid rain, flooding, etc. Before building anything, engineers need to ensure that the soil properties have the right degrees of saturation, void ratio, and compaction rate, such as water content and air density. Besides that, the right depth us needed for the foundation of the structure.

After learning about soil properties on APBI 200 and finding out about this accident, I realize how crucial it is to check the soil properties as precise and accurate as possible. This is so that they can be used for different kinds of things, for example: building infrastructures. If the data were not taken correctly, it may cause a lot of problems like the Dyck Memorial Bridge collapse. Therefore, taking soil properties needs to be taken seriously.



Mega Mansions Banned On Agriculture Reserve Lands

This topic is basically about the banning of constructing mega mansion on British Columbia's agricultural land reserves. This prevents the illegal dumping of waste on farmland, forcing the people living on these lands, to actually use the land for farming purposes. This way it aim to better preserve BC's fertile soils for farming and ranching, not as a sign to flaunt your wealth by destroying the soil. This is important to me because without regulations, people can just buy up these farmlands and turn them into mega mansions which greatly affect the crops grown in BC. What if every blueberry farm turned into one of these? Production will be lower, which means higher cost. This affect me because I love eating blueberries and having to pay more will greatly outrage me. This is related to the topic of soil degradation. Mismanagement of land, addition of toxic chemicals into the soil will have a long lasting impact on these fertile soils.



What do gardens bring to urban ecosystems?

urban garden plays an important role in protecting environment recently. "A healthy community requires a healthy soil" as said by people, soil is essential for people to grow food or create their garden. organic matter is useful for plants growth as it provides nutrients. Urban agriculture land is differ from urban green land such as parks. They have different uses thus have differnet requirements. Urban argiculture land needs to be more fertilized, while green land maintain less nutrients. scientists encourage people to grow more urban gardens to protect the environment.


Mingyang Yuan



Farmers in the Midwest Face Decades of Recovery as Flooding Strips Away Crucial Soil

This article posted on March 21st by Earther (an environmental news website) talks about how flooding in the Midwest (areas such as Nebraska) is eroding agricultural soil as it runs off into rivers and streams affecting the livelihoods of farmers. It also says that the implications of these floods mean that the soil may take decades to restore. This is important to me because it shows how a soil's water holding capacity and drainage can greatly affect people as well as the environment. This relates to what we learned about soil water in the APBI 200 course. It is an extreme example of how a soil reaching saturation and exceeding its field capacity can cause drastic amounts of soil erosion, having long lasting detrimental effects on the soil horizons thus decreasing productivity of the soil.



This article described the human activity influences and the threats facing by the underwater soil. It introduced that human activities such as removing underwater soil for ship passing and aquaculture are able to affect the water quality. The high amount of fertilizer runs off into the water is able to encourage the growth of algae and the mortality of fish. Data was added to the National Cooperative Soil Survey maps for the management of underwater soil by Stolt and his team, and they will continue the way to explore the underwater soils. I am interested in this topic because I used to study the traditional land soil and never think about the soil under the ocean. Plants first grow in the ocean and then move to the land, so I think underwater soil is an important part for plant study. Human activities not just affect the traditional soil, but also the underwater soil. This is related to the topic of soil degradation in our lecture.



GETTING TO THE CORE OF UNDERWATER SOIL

This article described the human activity influences and the threats facing by the underwater soil. It introduced that human activities such as removing underwater soil for ship passing and aquaculture are able to affect the water quality. The high amount of fertilizer runs off into the water is able to encourage the growth of algae and the mortality of fish. Data was added to the National Cooperative Soil Survey maps for the management of underwater soil by Stolt and his team, and they will continue the way to understand the explore soils. I am interested in this topic because I used to study the traditional land soil and never think about the soil under the ocean. Plants first grow in the ocean and then move to the land, so I think underwater soil is an important part for plant study. Human activities not just affect the traditional soil, but also the underwater soil. This is related to the topic of soil degradation in our lecture.



Fukushima grapples with toxic soil that no one wants

On March 11, 2019, the eighth anniversary Fukushima’s nuclear meltdown was marked and this article discussed the implications of contaminated soil. The article outlines how the soil is being processed and stored, outside of the initial radiation zone. The biggest issue on finding a place to sort and store this soil is that no one in the country wants the it to be brought to their area, due to the extremely long lasting effects of toxicity and radiation. The task of processing and storing has planned to amount to 14 million cubic meters of soil by 2021, situated in a interim storage facility. Many current process and storing areas are within the zone of the meltdown, with no, if not very little residents have returned to reside due to the high hazardous radiation levels.

Although the effects of Japan’s nuclear meltdown on soils is much greater than the effects that contaminated soils bring here in Vancouver at previous gas station locations, a small yet significant similarity is that of who would want to use the soil, or live on the soil after such event has taken place. As touched on in class, to use the land to build above ground planters may seem like a good use of space but may beg the question if it is safe to build and grow foods on these grounds if buildings are not even allowed to be constructed after a long period of time.



The balance of P and N determines rice growth

The Balance of phosphorus and nitrogen determines rice growth and yield



From the lecture of C/N ratio, we know that the carbon and nitrogen percentage will have a great influence on the decomposition activities and plant nutrient uptake. Additionally, we know the phosphorus cycle is vital in the soil system and the small amount of its available form is considered a common problem.

In this news article, the scientists from the University of Cologne conducted detailed molecular experiment on the so called "transporter" of plants. This "transporter" carries the phosphate into the plant. By tracing it in the signalling chain, they are able to know the proper ratio of the two components, which contribute to the optimal uptake. This gives us a new insight on how to control nutrition addition manually, which may even enables specific manipulations in arigultural practice.

Also, because rice takes up a large share in the global food resource, this new finding will contribute the reduction of hunger globally. it shows in the article that N and P, as two of the 17 essential elements, interact more strongly with each other than previously known. I believe if in the future, we can apply the similar technology to other plants by figuring out the specific relationship of other essential elements. By adjusting their components in the soil to optimal ratio, the benefits of plants will be maximized.

Underwater soil (Simon Lin)

This article introduces the work of Mark Stolt, a scientist from the University of Rhode Island. Stolt is attempting to give underwater soil the recognition and research they deserve by sampling and mapping underwater soils. Soils on the earth surface is tested, monitored, and managed constantly. However, underwater soils are barely recognized and often times, ignored. There is still so much to learn about them. Their values, threats, weaknesses, strengths are almost unknown – their values have yet to be defined. It is important to me because underwater soils is a fairly unknown territory to us. We know so much about soil on earth, yet underwater soils appears to be a mystery for many of us. I am intrigued by the unknown. This article may be related to many topics that is taught in APBI 200 or none at all. This is because we have yet to spend the time and money to research the soil beneath the waters.



Improving crop productivity in central Labrador’s sandy soil with charcoal

URL=https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/bio-char-happy-valley-goose-bay-sandy-soil-1.4842697

Date=October 7, 2018

Authors= Jonny Hodder and Labrador Morning |

Summary=

A special type of charcoal called Biochar is being tested to see if it can improve crop productivity in sandy soil environments. Biochar is works to improve soil quality in two different ways, firstly it reduces the acidity of the soil thus improving overall soil pH and secondly by improving physical conditions of the soil raising the water holding capacity. Biochar is similar to charcoal in its formation and traditionally ash and charcoal have been used as fertilizers in farming. During the testing period, Biochar was found to help in increasing productivity with wheat crop and beet crop. Soil testing determined an increase in soil nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium with continued biochar treatment. This discovery is touches on two key topics that we covered this term in APBI 200, soil acidity and interactions among soil components. Biochar improves the water carrying capacity by increasing the size on pores making them have more significant hydraulic conductivity than many small water filled pores totalling the same cross section, the rate of water flow is affected by the geometry of soil pore sizes.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-soil-microbes-slow-climate-change/

Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change? Written by John J Burger on March 26, 2019. The main point of the essay is to figure out techniques to us on carbon farming which will that extract carbon dioxide from the air and store it in soils. Because there so much agricultural exposed soil across the planet, so the main question is how to store more carbon while also increasing agricultural yields. Johnson planted fast-growing cover crops and applied a microbe-rich solution derived from a vermiculture (worm) compost produced in a low-tech composter, and found that reported a net annual increase of almost 11 metric tons of soil carbon per hectare on his cropland. Johnston's main theory to combat climate change is the ratio of fungi to bacteria needs to increase, making the soil biome more efficient in utilizing carbon and other nutrients and that the soil, therefore, releasing less CO2 to the atmosphere. The main argument against this claim is that soils do not absorb carbon indefinitely. After some years or decades, they inevitably approach a new steady state. This is important to learn for soil management purposes because knowing that the fungal to bacterial ratio is important, but it has to be maintained over time and it is situational to every soil.

Soil’s history: A solution to soluble phosphorus?

This article introduces a study done by Jim Barrow and his colleagues, which highlights the problem of phosphorous deficiency and the uses of phosphorous fertilizers. The article states that farmers have always been adding excessive fertilizers to the soil because only a fraction of them can be taken up by plants. The rest would be stuck on soil grains by reacting with them. Barrow agrees with this problem but also points out its upside in the study, which is that when phosphate reacts with soil particles, it makes the soil particles more negatively charged, and therefore they would repel incoming negatively charged phosphate. As a result, there is more phosphate remained in soil solution that will be available for plants to use. Barrow and his colleagues have found that the reaction rate between phosphate and soil particles would decrease and eventually stop over time as the negative charge built up.

This study helps me extend my understanding of the P-cycle and how phosphate can be fixed by soil particles discussed in the class. Moreover, it proposes an interesting point about the build-up negative charge decreasing the fixation rate. P is limited in soil and P deficiency could make the plants/crops unable to grow normally. Therefore, fertilizers have been usually applied excessively. This, however, could cause pollution. Thus, the scientists’ findings could have a real positive impact on the problem of excessive fertilizer uses by informing people that less fertilizer will be able to provide enough P nutrients to the crops.



Churchill's policies to blame for millions of Indian famine deaths, study says

In "Churchill's policies to blame for millions of Indian famine deaths, study says" Bard Wilkinson discusses how Winston Churchill is to blame for a famine in India's history, discovered through a recent soil analysis in India. Previous famines in India have all been linked to drought, but the recent soil analysis shows that soil water content was fertile during the Indian famine of 1943. Wilkinson goes on to talk about how Churchill's policy decision of exporting Indian rice out of Indian, focusing funds on the Indian military, and and not allowing imports of food for India was the cause of the famine in 1943. I found this article intriguing and important to me because it demonstrates the importance of understanding soil properties. I'd assume the process for analyzing a soil and finding its water content during a certain time period is beyond my current grasp of the soil concepts. That being said, I can infer that the researchers who analyzed the soil and concluded that the soil was fertile in 1943 came to this conclusion by examining the CEC and volumetric water content by looking at the differences in soil stratigraphy likely in the B horizon. Before this course I honestly did not think there was much to learn about dirt, but after learning about the complexities and unknowns that pertain to soil, I have gained a better appreciation for soils crucial role in modern day society



Discovery of new weapon against corn Aflatoxin.

To control and reduce the levels of aflatoxins in crops, the farmer usually choose to utilize the commercial strains of A. flavus as bio-control strains which does not produce aflatoxins. However, recently, the discovery of native A. flavus brought a perfect alternative strain for farmers. The native A. flavus strain is more effective than original commercial strain and can be more adaptive to soil type and weather conditions. Besides, the native A. flavus strain may keep growing in the soil and don’t need any annual replacement. In general, the performance of native A. flavus is better than commercial A. flavus. The new discovery of new fungus could be important to all people include farmers, consumers and environment.I found this topic is interesting because it's related to the topic of soil organisms thfungus at i was learnt from APBI200 class.



Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?

This article reviews research conducted by David Johnson, a microbiologist at New Mexico State University, who discovered that restoring the microbiomes of soils results in higher levels of carbon sequestration in soils. In his recently completed field work, Johnson cultivated crops in a soil that was rich in many types of soil organisms, including nematodes and fungi, and had unusually productive results in terms of crop growth and amounts of carbon sequestration. This led him to start proclaiming his findings as a solution to the atmospheric CO2 issue, and that the land used to sequester the carbon would have an economic benefit, not cost. This article also takes care to describe the many critical opinions from other scientists, who are doubtful of Johnson's grand conclusions, often stating there is more research needed on the topic to garner accurate conclusions. As a young adult concerned about the future of the planet, this article is important to me for it's relevance to the issues of climate change and how our learnings from our soil science class can be applied to assist in finding solutions to some of the world's biggest problems. In particular, this article has focused on the soil organisms that we have learned about in class and the roles they play in increasing soil productivity, in particular for carbon storage within soils. We focused on the importance of these soil organisms for several classes in APBI 200, which helped me to really understand and connect with this news report.



Article: Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change?

Article “Can Soil Microbes Slow Climate Change? One scientist has tantalizing results, but others are not convinced.” Scientific American.

This article describes the findings of microbiologist David Johnson, who conducted a project by increasing soil microbiota, and reported that he gained 11 metric tons of soil carbon per hectare; 10 times more than soils usually sequester. He also found that increasing the soil bacteria-to-fungi ratio caused soil to release less CO2. He criticized Glyphosate for killing the necessary Aspergillus fungus, an indicator of fungal presence, and noted that problematic fertilizers are often used to increase the limiting nutrient nitrogen, but the research claimed that microbial soil naturally increases nitrogen for plant growth, rendering fertilizer unnecessary. He noted that this approach provides 500-600 dollars of benefits such as reduced irrigation and increased fertility.

The article cited one research scientist who debated this, explaining that the sequestration wouldn’t happen the same way in different ecosystems, and pointed out that carbon sequestration reaches capacity in soil and is not a long-term solution. Another scientist criticized Johnson’s findings for not being peer evaluated research, warning that they should not be presented as facts and noting that reducing tillage can have similar effects to Johnson’s unconventional approach.

However, since climate change is a pressing problem, the soil microbiome could be researched in the future to determine if this is a feasible way to take some carbon out of the air. The article discusses that there may be a “new paradigm” in managing soils on agricultural land, with climate change in mind instead of only increasing yield.

This article relates to topics studied in APBI200, including the role of soil organisms and their effects on the carbon cycle. This is relevant to me as someone who hopes to pursue agricultural studies and to any other human, since CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels contribute to the changing climate, resulting in unpredictable changes ecosystems that we should all be concerned about. Agricultural activity can greatly impact greenhouse gas levels, and therefore it is our responsibility to choose to cultivate the land in a way that minimizes or possibly reverses these impacts.



Know the soil from water irragation

The news is posted on March 20 in 2019 from Soil Science Society of America. The news introduces that people eat uncooked salad is easy to be ill because of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria from warm-blooded animals. To test the safety of the food, researchers test the irrigation water. The finding is that there are salts and sediments after heavy rain. It reflects to the soil organism in the lecture on how animals in soil influence the soil. It also can learn from what are in the soil and what is small or soluble.



California's forest die-off caused by depletion of deep-soil water

Allen Benson’s article discusses the impact of a severe 2012 - 2015 drought on forests stands in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. While the trees in this range have roots extending from five to 15 meters deep, the drought decreased subsurface moisture to a content below the survivability of the forest stands. At lower elevations, tree mortality was nearly an 80% loss. Increased evapotranspiration – a result of warmer temperatures – caused increased water uptake, further decreasing plant available water. Benson further discusses the findings of two researchers that examined the impacts of elevation, vegetation density, climatic factors, and soil water content on tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. These factors allowed for model predictions to determine forest stands that will be impacted by droughts conditions and the thresholds required to reach varying tree mortality rates.

This article is relevant to my studies as it describes an impact of drought on forest stands. The implications of mass tree mortality include an increase in carbon emissions and an increase in forest fire occurrences. Dead trees provide fuel for fires, as was seen in many forest fires in California and British Columbia. Soil irrigation to levels above the wilting point for peri-urban stands would decrease tree mortality and thus the risk of wildlife in the urban interface.

This article directly relates to the APBI 200 topic on soil water, particularly relating to plant available water content. It also relates to plant growth.

- Written by Alex Martin

Date: July 21st, 2019; News Source: Dripline.net; URL: http://dripline.net/californias-forest-die-off-caused-by-depletion-of-deep-soil-water/



Date= March 16 2020

  • Date: {{{Date}}}
  • Authors: Roger Harrabin

This article explains how recently, soil campaigners have discovered that a mere 0.41% of all cash invested into environmental monitoring in the UK goes towards examining soils. Compared to air and water, soil is vastly overshadowed and clearly looked past by many investors. This article is important to me, because I believe that investing in noble and important causes is very valuable, but fully understanding what your money is being invested into is entirely necessary when it comes to such broad topics, like "the environment." There are so many parts of the environment that require care and understanding, and I believe that if soil and its importance was properly taught and understood, it would be taken more seriously than its lack of investment would imply. APBI 200 is an eye-opening course, that provides students with knowledge early in their university studies that they will use countless times in the future. As a whole, soil science is vastly under-rated topic, and I believe this article relates to APBI 200 as they both hold shocking truths, that truly should not be so shocking after all. Soil is a complex dynamic body, that dictates the life of all plants, and countless other organisms. It should be treated as near equals to water based environmental studies, and air based environmental studies as is plays just as big a role in maintaining life as we know it as they do.



This article explains how recently, soil campaigners have discovered that a mere 0.41% of all cash invested into environmental monitoring in the UK goes towards examining soils. Compared to air and water, soil is vastly overshadowed and clearly looked past by many investors. This article is important to me, because I believe that investing in noble and important causes is very valuable, but fully understanding what your money is being invested into is entirely necessary when it comes to such broad topics, like "the environment." There are so many parts of the environment that require care and understanding, and I believe that if soil and its importance was properly taught and understood, it would be taken more seriously than its lack of investment would imply. APBI 200 is an eye-opening course, that provides students with knowledge early in their university studies that they will use countless times in the future. As a whole, soil science is vastly under-rated topic, and I believe this article relates to APBI 200 as they both hold shocking truths, that truly should not be so shocking after all. Soil is a complex dynamic body, that dictates the life of all plants, and countless other organisms. It should be treated as near equals to water based environmental studies, and air based environmental studies as is plays just as big a role in maintaining life as we know it as they do.



How to Get Rid of 9,000 Tons of Toxic Topsoil (New York Times) (Mirleigha Durward-McLean)

The article discusses the situation about 9,000 tons of toxic topsoil located in Red Hook, Brooklyn that are trying to be moved to a landfill in Pennsylvania. The tricky situation is, is the fields of where this topsoil is located are normally open to be soccer, baseball, and other recreational fields for the local community, but the fields were built on a site of a lead smelting plant from decades past. Already 4,800 tons of this lead filled toxic soil has been moved but it's not as easy as just lifting it and moving it, since leaching of the lead or possibly getting it into the air are concerns. It's importance to me comes from a place of environmental and health concerns, as excessive lead contamination not only ruins the environment from leaching and possible run off, but can affect the health of the Red Hook community if this lead somehow comes into contact with the individuals living around the park. This article relates to how we discuss proper soil management practices. Avoiding the lead leaching in the first place would have been ideal, but now ensuring proper cleanup of the lead is important. In the case of Red Hook, it is being monitored and carefully managed, as many environmental conservation agencies are watching over construction companies like LAWS to ensure the safe and precise removal of the lead material. Not only so the parks can be reopened to the community, but so everyone stays healthy and safe.

- Mirleigha Durward-McLean



What is importance of soil in agriculture?

• URL= https://www.soils.org/files/sssa/iys/march-soils-overview.pdf • Date= March 2015 • Authors= Meghan Sindelar

The article addresses the significance of soil to agriculture, and ultimately people benefit from heathy soil. Soil is a critical part of successful agriculture and is the original source of the nutrients that we use to grow crops. The nutrients move from the soil into plants that we eat like tomatoes. Nutrients are also a part of the food animals (like cows) eat. In the end, we benefit from healthy soil. The healthiest soils produce the healthiest and most abundant food supplies. One of a significant process related to this topic we learned from APBI 200 is salinization which infers Soils in dry climates are more likely to see a decline in nutrients, especially if irrigated. The small amounts of salts and other chemicals found in water can build up in the soil over time if not carefully managed. So Adding fertilizer is one important way to keep agricultural production systems sustainable. Finally, the article addresses the efficient ways of managing soils in agricultural system such as not driving in fields when the soil is too wet, not disturbing the soil too much (disturbance makes erosion easier and increases the rate at which microorganism lose their food supply), keeping the surface covered to reduce erosion, and monitoring watering so that salts do not accumulate. ---Yunica(xinyu) Wang

Peat moss use in gardening unsustainable, says soil expert

Although it fills many beneficial roles in gardening, the harvesting of peat moss is unsustainable and unreliable from an ecological standpoint. Peat is used in gardens because its open and connected pores hold air and water optimally for plant growth, and this soil type also prevents leaching of nutrients. Peat is formed in bogs over thousands of years as plant matter decomposes in the acidic environment. However, rapid harvesting of this rich humus destroys important bog ecosystem habitat.

This article is important to me because I grew up exploring the local Camosun bog ecosystem as a kid in Pacific Spirit Park. When I came to university for forestry, I got to learn about the different plant types, ecological systems, and restoration program there. It relates to APBI 200 topics of nutrient cycling, soil organic matter, and soil physics (texture).



To predict droughts, don’t look at the skies. Look in the soil… from space

In the news report “To predict droughts, don’t look at the skies. Look in the soil… from space” Tian et al. discuss ways to measure droughts by indicating that “how much soil moisture the vegetation can still get out of the soil” can help scientists measure droughts. This reminds me of AWSC(available water storage capacity), which is the amount of water in soils between the field capacity and permanent wilting point. Tian et al. explain this is difficult because each crop has a different root system and grows in different soil. Recently, Satellites SMOS and GRACE are discovered to predict droughts. SMOS in space measures radio waves emitted by the ground, and from it, scientists can determine how much moisture is available in the topsoil. GRACE, then chases around the earth, measures the “miniscule changes in the Earth’s gravitational field caused by local increases or decreases in the amount of water below the surface.”(Tian, 2019). As a result, scientists can create a picture of the distribution of water below the surface. This interest me since I am more educated in soil science, I should not blame droughts on nature, but think more about the characteristics of different soil and how it affect what grows on it and how much water is left for plants to use and how much rain is on the way.


Davida Wang 36640910 



Protecting and Restoring Soils Could Remove 5.5 Billion Tonnes of CO2 a Year

This article summarizes the work of soil scientist Dr. Deborah Bossio and her study "The role of soil carbon in natural climate solutions." Dr. Bossio states that the aim of her research was to bring soil back to the forefront, but not to overstate its importance. The study concludes that soil makes up nearly 25% of the world's natural climate change solutions, meaning that through enhancing and protecting existing soil, 5.5 billion tonnes of carbon could be removed from the atmosphere. The main way to do this is to leave healthy soil undisturbed. However, in a world were food security is a mounting issue and agriculture is a heavily-relied on global market, this 'solution' remains elusive and perhaps unrealistic. Dr. Bossio suggests that in order to incentivize protection of soils, the economic benefit of agriculture should expand to include financial returns for providing ecosystem services.

I found this particularly interesting as it relates to something Professor Maja said in class. She mentioned that the reality of our world was such that agriculture is a necessity, people need to eat and growing food in existing soil mediums is the method. I think this is a particularly salient issue as we are in a time of growing human population and growing planet degradation. Taking a look at soil is key in that it is a lot more important than many people realize, but also part of a bigger system which forms the overall picture. I'm taking an Agroforestry course and I think there is a lot to be said about enhancing the capabilities of soil through incentivizing agro-forestry systems which in turn provide ecosystem services that help restore regions of our planet.



the dirt on soil loss from the midwest floods

The article "the dirt on soil loss from the Midwest floods" describes the devastating long-term consequences for farmers of the midwest after the floods destroyed their fields and future crops. As described in the article, farmers fields have become flooded leaving the soil saturated and full of water. This saturation leads to changes in the soils physical, chemical and biological properties limiting plant growth. When soil becomes full of water it changes its physical properties filling all of the micro and macro pores with water leading to an anaerobic state. Plants need oxygen to survive and without it soon begin to die. The soil also changes chemically as the increase in water content allows excessive leaching to occur as P, N, K ions are removed from the soil. This leaves plants with less available nutrients and decreases growth rates. The biological change in soil that occurs is between microbes and fungi within the soil. Mychorrhizae which is a symbiotic relationship between fungi and root nodules of plants can no longer occur as much of the fungi dies due to lack of oxygen in the anaerobic state of the soil. This in turn reduces the amount of available nutrients towards plants leading to damaged crops and minimal future yields. Overall the effects of the flooding will be drastic for many farmers as it will take years for the soil to return to its original productivity and nutrient availability. In the mean-time farmers can supplement their fields with fertilizers to increase available nutrients. This however may increase the C/N ratio potentially causing more harm. - Brendan Guraliuk 94057007



Glidepath To Recovery: Flying Squirrels And Spruce Forests Share Common Fate

This article explores the relationship between the West Virginia northern flying squirrel and spruce forest populations – using operations techniques to enhance soil health and in effect, the overall health of the ecosystem. The Mower Tract ecosystem has been struggling since used as a logging area and has high levels of compaction from machinery, hindering its ability to thrive. As a forest operations student, this is a good reminder to ensure the health of an ecosystem after harvesting and the responsibility we have as land managers. Poor decisions have dramatically reduced the health of this ecosystem – decisions that most likely could have been avoided or mitigated using restoration. The current project heavily relies on soil organisms to revitalize forest health. The release of spruce needles will create a nutrient-rich layer of organic matter on the forest floor, greatly benefitting the survival of mycorrhizal fungi – a critical food source for the flying squirrels. As well, mechanisms have been employed to break up the ground for tree roots to move more easily through the soil and be better rooted. The author also draws connections to how these interactions can be useful moving forward with climate change. The spruce trees, they argue, will provide a valuable source of shelter for the flying squirrels to avoid them having to change their habitat in warming temperatures. This continued shelter will allow the squirrels to maintain their positive impact on soil health by interacting with the mycorrhizal fungi. - Rosalia Jaffray 89925416



Countering arable land degradation: The waste that woke the soil

The article begins by explaining that soil is not just “dirt”, but is actually a “wonder”, as we can actually grow food from it. It goes on to warn of soil degradation in the tropics, and that these soils often need organic amendments to keep them productive. A study was conducted in Nigeria to determine the effects of adding poultry manure on maize yield. It was found that the more poultry manure that was added, the greater the maize yield. The ability of the soil to retain moisture and nutrients was also increased. In addition, the soil remained healthy after harvest, and was ready to grow more crops. The article goes on to advise of the benefits of using natural fertilizers, such as poultry manure, as opposed to chemical fertilizers, such as lower costs, and making the soils less acidic. The article ends by emphasizing the potential for natural fertilizers, like poultry manure to re-mediate degraded soils--particularly in the tropics--and keep them healthy.

This article was important because it brings the importance of soils to the masses. It touched on many of the topics that were discussed in class, such as soil degradation and management, productivity, organic soils, fertilizers, crops, soil physical properties and processes, soil quality, soil amendment, water and nutrient retention, soil acidity, soil organisms, and soil sustainability.



Fungi Mycorrhiza Distribution around the World

For this news, it talk about the distribution of two main kinds of mycorrhiza type: arbuscular fungi (AM) and ectomycorrhizal fungi (EM). For the former one, they usually penetrate the hosts's roots while locating in the low latitudes areas. And for the latter one, they mainly surround the tree’s root while locating in the high latitudes areas. Meanwhile, the article also informs us the relationship between climate change and the decreasing numbers of mycorrhiza and the important role that mycorrhiza play in nutrients fixation and translocation. I think it’s important for us to know different locations and function of different mycorrhiza so that we can attach different managements if we see some abnormal trees in the future. What’s more, it can also raise our awareness for how climate change influence the fungus ecosystems and how can we solve the problem.(like translocating the fungus mycorrhiza from the south areas to the north areas(temperature rising))

Han Yan-92917988



Cover crops can benefit hot, dry soils

This article discusses research on how cover crops improve the biological health of soils in the study area. Dr. Rajan Ghimire illustrates the factors about the effectiveness of cover cropping in the hot, dry environment of the southern High Plains of the United States for the readers. In summary, soil health is related to its carbon dioxide emissions. The biological activity (or activity of soil microbes) in the soil and the interaction between soil temperature and precipitation play an important role in determining how much carbon dioxide the soil can emit. On the other hand, cover crops cause an increase in soil carbon storage in order to achieve a balance with soil carbon dioxide release. Their root and aboveground biomass are largely made of carbon, which will eventually decompose into soil organic matter. "Finding a balance is key, " says Ghimire. "Mixing grasses with legumes may help increase soil carbon and nitrogen while minimizing carbon dioxide release."

Now the researchers plan to continue the experiment, trying to draw lessons and conclusions about the planting of cover crops. This long-term study is important for the soil health of agricultural land and is a good way to sequester carbon, reduce global warming and increase agricultural resilience. Moreover, this topic relates to microbial physiology in the soil environment and soil properties in APBI 200.

Tasso Hu 17865882



A Congresswoman's plan to slow global warming by using the soil

This news article summarizes a bill being put forward by US congresswoman Chellie Pingree. Her plan is in response to the statistic that 10 percent of the US’ carbon emissions from agriculture. In particular, she focuses on midwestern farmland, where fields used for growing soybeans and corn have no plants on them through winter/spring. Working off the knowledge that soils can trap carbon (as we have learned in APBI 200), she proposes that cover crops must be planted to soak up CO2. The goal would be 75% coverage of all farmland in the US, year-round. The cover crops also would serve conservation purposes related to other APBI200 topics such as leaching and erosion. The article also notes that the bill is very unlikely to pass in congress due to the political climate in the US, and the fact that farmers in the midwest have a history of standoffs with environmentalists. However, I still think it is great that politicians are beginning to see soils and soil science as a necessary part of conservation.

STUDENT: Declan Taylor



Researchers get their hands dirty in one of the last frontiers of science

the article is informing the public about a research study going on in Atlantic Canada. The researchers are working to document all the micro-organisms and organic matter in topsoil. The data that they get will be compiled into a soil map of Atlantic Canada. They are planning on the use of this study going to people in agriculture and that it can provide a better understanding of growing conditions for certain plant species. It is interesting to me because it shows how what we're learning in APBI 200 is actually very important for the production of much of the food in Canada as well as the number of mice-organisms in a tiny amount of soil is outstanding. This relates to APBI 200 because we study the micro-organisms in soil, as well as the horizons (where the topsoil that they are studying comes in).



"Down on the Farm that Harvests Metal From Plants"

This article is about how scientists and farmers in Malaysia are extracting nickel from tree sap. Nickel (and other metals) accumulates in the plant after it is taken up from the soil. This occurs because certain plants thrive in metallic soil, and are able to uptake it from the soil and store it in large quantities. Scientists are then able to extract the nickel from the plant's sap, using a technique called phytomining. This is a promising new practice because extracting metals from plants could reduce environmental degradation caused by ore mining. The mining of ores for metals such as zinc causes significant disruption to the soil, prohibiting plant growth and the existence of soil organisms. Phytomining extracts zinc and other metals without harming the soil, and uses the natural processes of soil nutrient cycling to its advantage. I found this article especially interesting because it represents a possible new branch of agriculture and forestry. I am studying the conservation of natural resources, and phytomining represents a way to extract Earth's valuable resources without damaging its precious ecosystems. This relates to APBI 200 because it exhibits the intricate processes of nutrient cycling in soils, and the uses of soil micronutrients. Phytomining takes advantage of nutrient cycling in soils without destroying the soil itself.

Student: Zoe Kinnard



Climate change may cut soil's ability to absorb water

An article posted on Science Daily on September 11th, 2019 stated that a study led by Rutgers University in New Brunswick has shown that climate change can reduce the ability of soil to absorb water. The Rutger’s University study showed that increased rainfall as a result of climate change could reduce water infiltration in soil. The Rutger’s University study drawn evidence from a 25-year experiment in Kansas with prairie soil, which found that a 35% increase in rainfall would result in a 21-33% decrease in water infiltration rates and minimal increase in water retention. The Rutger’s University study stated that the most prominent reason for this correlation is macropores. The Rutger’s University study explained that as rainfall increases, plants’ roots develop and increase in size, which reduces the pores’ size and thus, reduce water infiltration. This information is important to me because it relates soil physics (water specifically) and soil biology (plants specifically). The information also shows how a supposedly “good” change in one aspect of soil (biology) can negatively affect another aspect (physics). Finally, the information adds to the state of knowledge regarding climate change, which is an overarching topic both in this course and generally in Forestry/LFS.

Student: Mark Dao



Climate change may cut soil's ability to absorb water

An article posted on Science Daily on September 11th, 2019 stated that a study led by Rutgers University in New Brunswick has shown that climate change can reduce the ability of soil to absorb water. The Rutger’s University study showed that increased rainfall as a result of climate change could reduce water infiltration in soil. The Rutger’s University study drawn evidence from a 25-year experiment in Kansas with prairie soil, which found that a 35% increase in rainfall would result in a 21-33% decrease in water infiltration rates and minimal increase in water retention. The Rutger’s University study stated that the most prominent reason for this correlation is macropores. The Rutger’s University study explained that as rainfall increases, plants’ roots develop and increase in size, which reduces the pores’ size and thus, reduce water infiltration. This information is important to me because it relates soil physics (water specifically) and soil biology (plants specifically). The information also shows how a supposedly “good” change in one aspect of soil (biology) can negatively affect another aspect (physics). Finally, the information adds to the state of knowledge regarding climate change, which is an overarching topic both in this course and generally in Forestry/LFS.

Student: Mark Dao



"The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food - but it's rapidly disappearing

“The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food - but it’s rapidly disappearing” discusses soil fertility, focusing on a very pressing issue: the fact that our topsoil is depleting rapidly. Through the continual utilization of conventional farming practices, such as over extensive tilling, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and lack of cover crops, topsoil is on track to run out in 60 years according to Maria-Helena Semedo of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Not only have these farming practices depleted topsoil, but they have heavily contributed to dead zones, nutrient pollution, and erosion. These problems in turn affect topsoil, for example, excess nutrients in pools of standing water above soil can kill of important soil macro and microflora, decreasing soil organic matter, which leads to less nutrient retention and nutrient-depleted top soil. It is integral to APBI200 to understand that these processes all affect one another, and as discussed in the article, topsoil is being heavily affected. This example has played out in our real environment, leading to soil on cropland eroding 10 times faster than it can be replenished. Many farmers are seeing these drastic changes in their topsoil, such as Brian and Keith Berns, who began utilizing cover crops between harvests and stopped tilling their 2,100 acre farm in order to save their soil. Soil education is vital for farmers like the Berns brothers, as well as everyone on the planet! In order for us to survive, we must protect our topsoil.

Student: Lauren Snow



'Win-win': Better fertilizer use by farmers saves money and the environment

In this article published by CBC News on the 30th of July, 2019, journalist Bonnie Allen reports how farmers in Saskatchewan are better at fertilizer use in terms of the environment and money. The article explains the emissions emitted from fertilizer use alone and the complex solution of applying sophisticated fertilizers at precise locations in order to minimize the amount of nitrogen released into the atmosphere. Other advancements in land management include new technology such as “software, satellite imagery, moisture probes and sensors” that can help farmers identify “different soil structures, salinity, and moisture” (Allen 2019). With these new technologies, farmers can also manage fertilizer usage and focus on specific areas that either need more or less fertilizer to produce the most suitable yield potentials for their crops with minimal environmental risks. This information from Allen’s article enhances my understanding and application of the nitrogen cycle discussed in APBI 200. Learning the chemical and biological activities that occur in the nitrogen cycle realizes the effects on inputting fertilizer into the soil impacts life in and above the soil. The applications of fertilizer and the solutions taken to reduce its application is important to me because I now know more of how farmers are dealing with nitrogen emissions in their work.

Victor Lum



China's Soil Pollution

The article is about the soil pollution in China caused by the use of pesticides and fertilizers for agriculture. This is really a problem for China to deal with the increasing food demand and the environment pollution. And after the soil is polluted by fertilizers, the condition of soil will be changed, and affect the drainage or water capacity of the soil.

NAME: Yichun Zhang Studnet number: 18880062



Soil In the News - Soil Connect - Gretchen MacNaughton 83180455

This article focuses on an app called “Soil Connect”, to connect people who want to buy or sell soil. These people include those in many industries, such as “builders, contractors, landscapers, and other industry professionals” (Cho 2020). Founder and CEO of Soil connect, Cliff Fetner, talks about his time as a contractor building luxury homes, specifically regarding the issue of excess soil leftover from projects. Fetner remarks that it was a waste to hire someone to remove the excess soil from his site when someone else would be willing to buy this soil from him. Thus, Soil Connect was created. Although the idea of “trading soil” is interesting, I do worry about the long-term consequences of soil movement between different environments. I am curious if taking soil from a different environment, such as a farm (where fertilizer is likely to be used) and transporting it to an area where fertilizer has never been used, could have unintended impacts. Impacts could include disruption of the already established soil ecosystems, through additional nutrients (leading to overwhelmed organisms and/or leaching), potentially toxic residues (if this came from a place where pesticides or chemicals were used), or the addition of different soil particle sizes that change the soil properties (drainage, water retention, aeration, nutrient retention, etc.). Although this app is helpful for industry professionals, I believe that it could be improved by regulation of soils and soil placement. Gretchen MacNaughton 83180455



Trustee asks if province slow to fix contaminated soil at Winnipeg school because neighbourhood is poor

This article discusses the problem of lead contamination of soil in the Winnipeg school playing field in Manitoba. The article reports that 19 out of the 22 samples taken from the field in 2007 tested positive for levels of leads that exceed nation guidelines for human health protection. The news article explores the possible reasons why the provincial leadership has taken long (over two years) to address the problem. While quoting April Roller (president of the parent advisory council at the Weston Elementary School), the article argues that class discrimination is at play in the society. As such, soil contamination endangering the lives of innocent children in school is not being handled with seriousness. The article further reports that children at the Winnipeg School only access the playground during winter when the likelihood of exposure is low. During summer, they are forced to stay off the field and deprive themselves of physical fitness. The article reports that stakeholders are concerned about the health of students in the school. Lack of physical exercise is associated with an increase in levels of stress, which have adverse effects on learners’ academic performance. This article is important because it showcases the role of dietetics who have majored in research, education, and media. It relates to the APBI 200 course because it promotes awareness and promotional campaigns for making soils safer.



These Scientists Are Changing Soil at a Molecular Level to Withstand Earthquakes

A team of researchers in the States is developing a new technique that uses microbes to make soils more earthquake resistant. Much of the destruction wrought by earthquakes occurs as a result of liquefaction, which (according to the USGS), is when “loosely packed, water-logged sediments at or near the ground surface lose their strength in response to strong ground shaking.” It’s pretty scary. Conventional solutions to liquefaction address the "loosely packed" part of the problem by compacting the earth and introducing structural supports. This style of solution was the original objective of the researchers, who were studying how denitrifying bacteria precipitate calcium carbonate. However, they found that the bacteria also addressed the "water-logged" part of the problem: their excreted gases increased the pneumatic pressure within the soil and forced out the water. These combined processes were dubbed “microbially induced desaturation and precipitation", or MIDP. Much of the research on MIDP is coming out of the University of Portland. This is because a lot of Portland's infrastructure is built on sediments that are expected to undergo liquefaction when The Big One finally hits. Much of BC is similarly vulnerable, so MIDP studies are already being conducted here. What this research really illuminates, however, is the interdisciplinary nature of soil science. The process of denitrification is commonly referred to in relation to soil fertility. Here, it is treated as a factor within the domain of soil physics, connected to ideas such as bearing strength and water movement as a product of differences in energy potential. In short, this research illustrates why soil scientists need to know everything.



More rainfall in wet seasons promotes more carbon dioxide released from soil: Research (Stephanie Yang)

A group of researchers conducted a research about the influence of precipitation to soil condition. They found more rainfall increases soil moisture during the dry season, while it won't influence soil moisture during wet season. It is because water content in soil during dry season is really low, so that after rainfall soil moisture will increase. However, during wet season, soil is more moist and water content is higher, more rainfall won't influence soil moisture a lot since water cannot enter soil pores after saturated. In this article, they mentioned more precipitation increases leaf area and soil biomass, but decreases fine root biomass. litter decomposition will increase since there are more microorganisms and the burrowing of earthworms will be more frequent. After rainfall, most soil macro-pores are occupied by water, thus soil aeration decreases. The respiration of microbes increases. This article relates to soil physical property, soil biology, and C-cycle. It is important to know the influence of precipitation since most soil properties are related to water content. In Vancouver, rainy season usually last for a long period of time. It is necessary to know how does the rain affect the soil condition.

Student: Stephanie Yang



Newly Identified Microbes Play Important Role in Soil’s Nitrogen Cycle

This news article reflects on a recent review paper from Xinda Lu and his team discussing different roles that numerous soil microbes play in the nitrogen cycle. Lu states that, “Soil microbes catalyze most of the transformations of soil nitrogen into plant-usable forms. Diverse microbes use different processes – and sometimes work together. Knowing the various styles of soil microbes, and linking microbes to specific soil processes, can be important knowledge for farmers.” While researchers have been studying nitrification, a new microorganism has been found. It is a type of prokaryote called archaea that has also been playing a sufficient role in nitrification. Apparently, there are many more archaea that help the nitrification process in some soils than there are bacteria responsible for the same work. The team reviewed and compared soil pH, temperate and the ratio of carbon to nitrogen between the number of microbes in each soil sample. It is shown that archaea are more present in warmer temperatures while other microbes flourish in lower temperatures. Learning about the role of Archaea in nitrification has expanded the knowledge and understanding of researchers and scientists. This article is important because researching about nitrification can lead to a better understanding of greenhouse gasses and loss of fertilizer and also shows us that there are many things still waiting to be discovered in our soils. This article intertwines with our lectures on nutrient cycles, mainly nitrogen cycle, and ties in how vital and fundamental microbes are to nutrient cycling.

Student: Linda Lum



PFAS Chemicals Are Creeping Through Soil to Groundwater (Futurity) - Madeline Woodley

On February 12, 2020, Futurity (a non-profit news site supported by universities across the world) posted an article on the discovery of PFAs (polyfluoroalkyls) in the soil as they filter through from the surface towards groundwater stores. These chemicals do not break down and are detrimental to human and environmental health. In the past, remediation practices have focused on PFA contamination in groundwater but now studies are revealing the significant level of contamination in the soil. It has been found that these chemicals move slower through coarse-grained soils than fine-grained ones. Water treatment plants are not able to remove these chemicals from the water. This is of significant concern because of the presence of PFAs in the products we use and our dependence on soil for agriculture. This article is a real world application of various topics covered in APBI 200; including soil texture, contaminant accumulation, and water drainage. It also relates to the lecture on urban soils since they have heavy exposure to human practices; we discussed assessments conducted to determine the level of concern associated with a soil before working with it. I wonder if chemicals like PFAs are measured when soil scientists do their field tests. This article has personal relevance to me because I enjoy growing my own food and believe strongly in the need to promote things like urban agriculture to address climate change and food insecurity, however this article raises important points on needing to properly assess locations before using it.



HOW DID DEEPWATER HORIZON’S SPILL AFFECT THE COASTAL SOILS AND WETLANDS IN THE GULF OF MEXICO?

This article explained that after the explosion of Deepwater horizon, oil spill under wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a terrible pollution along the Gulf’s shoreline due to the oil leaking. An annual oil seepage of approximately 20 million gallons, but the Gulf still isn’t full of soil. The reason behind that, this article had already answer the question. This is because soils have large amount of living organism, soil microbes and some plants (like roots) will use these oil (as “Hydrocarbons”) as their resource if the process is slow. Moreover, some abiotic factors such as sunlight and oxygen, can also degrade these slowly leaking oils too. More importantly, these oils seem very harmful to our environment, but they really become the source of food for the whole communities of animals in the deep sea.

This article is relevant to APBI 200 because we learn about how living organism can affect the soils. Soil isn’t just dirt, but they are the best treatment to adjust the environment.



by Jason Huang

Why protecting soil carbon is a win-win for farmers and the planet

This article of an interview between publisher Kiley Price and Conservation International scientist Bronson Griscom, summarizes the benefits of protecting and restoring soil carbon. The article recognizes how not enough people are taking necessary steps to ensure a sustainable future and food security, and why protecting soil carbon is a "win-win for farmers and the planet." Griscom states that “according to our analysis, protecting or restoring carbon in soil can provide 3 billion tons of cost-effective climate mitigation per year.” The research shown in this article suggests that agricultural systems should be better managed by determining which ecosystems should be left alone and which should be managed in order to improve carbon storage and soil health. For example, wetland ecosystems store greater amounts of carbon in its soil than terrestrial forests and “are the most valuable to society if they are left alone.” The article recognizes that many farms reach the point where soils become so degraded, that it stores less carbon and becomes less drought tolerant, making it unable to support plant growth. By restoring and increasing soil carbon, soils will be able to get crops through droughts as climate change continues. This article is important to me because I am part of a world that only has a decade left to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and this article includes research that shows cost-effective and beneficial steps that people can do to take climate action via soil management. This article relates to the topic of soil fertility and soil degradation that we have been studying in APBI 200, and how by better managing agricultural practices on soils, we can prevent soil degradation and increase nutrients within soils.

Student: Emily Mardell



"Urban land could grow fruit and vegetables for 15 per cent of the population"

The University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food has found through their research that about 15% of urban green spaces in Sheffield, UK could potentially be converted for garden and agricultural purposes. With this space, over 120% of the population in Sheffield would have enough food to satisfy their average calorie intake every day. This group also investigated the potential of using hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods in non-green urban spaces, such as rooftops. This is significant, since the UK heavily depends on international exports and supply chains of produce to feed its population. However, by using the land that is already available in the UK more efficiently, these land conversions could greatly improve food security.

This article is important to me and what I am learning because it highlights the importance of soil services to our everyday lives. Soil is a finite resource, and has been heavily degraded world-wide due to human activities. Therefore, the soil ecosystem services that we depend on, such as support for plant growth and the provision of food, are greatly compromised, especially as climate change persists. It is vital that we envision ways in which we can protect our soils from degradation, utilize it to satisfy our needs, and be stewards of the soil.

Student: Ceilidh Smith



Farm takes different approach to soil fertility

This news report from The Western Producer highlights a family from Saskatchewan who have been adding calcium to their soil to help microorganisms thrive and create more fertile soil. Pratt reports that they have been able to grow healthier crops for their dairy herd, as they have measured a significant increase in both sugar content and nutrient density in their crops which has resulted in a healthier herd.

This relates to the topic of soil biology, touching both on nutrient cycles and soil organisms. In class, we have learned that Ca is an essential nutrient for plant growth. Therefore, it is not surprising that soils in depleted in Ca plants would be noticeably healthier from adding calcium. Additionally, we have learned that microorganisms have a huge role in increasing plant available nitrogen in the soil through mineralization. Furthermore, in the article the farmer states “weeds don’t like high calcium, high phosphorus soils. They like high potassium and high magnesium”, so they haven’t had to add as much herbicide, which kills microorganisms. Therefore, I would expect the plants would also be getting additional nitrogen through the increased microbial population.

This information is relevant because it demonstrates how essential both nutrients and microorganisms are for plant growth. Additionally, it emphasises how proper soil stewardship (ie. maintaining proper levels of nutrients and a strong microbial population) is vital for feeding our rising global population, as these properly managed soils increase both the nutrition content and yields from food grown in our limited soils available for agriculture.

[Rheanna Konrad]



Washington Post Article - Sarah Law

The article chosen surrounds the core ideas that various soil scientists have been searching about how soil organisms affect the earth and humans.

The article opens with an unusual introduction that describes how a scientist uses 100% cotton underwear placed in the soil to test for life by seeing if bacteria, fungi and nematodes consume the underwear after five weeks.

After the article dives into their research, its material covered topics relating to class lessons. This made it easier understand the material with the more in depth knowledge on how organisms play key roles in preventing erosion which is caused by burrowing and enlarging pores for better drainage, and restoring atmospheric compounds through fixation (eg. nitrogen) helps against climate change and makes nutrients easier for plants to consume.

Additional information that the article taught was that organisms in soil can also help increase a human's immunity. It is hypothesized that starting from utero development, food ingested by mothers living in farmlands will regulate the emotions and immune responses of their offspring better by the nutrient content of the food being consumed.

This article is important to me as it relieves stigma of “dangerous” soil microbes in an easily understandable fashion to convey the truth about how they protect the earth. It is a misconception that soil organisms are harmful to human health (eg. harbouring diseases) and it is shown that there are many more benefits, as seen above, than consequences. Therefore emphasizing that we should preserve microbes to preserve earth.



Why protecting soil carbon is a win-win for farmers and the planet

This article discussed that a United Nations report stated that the global food system is driving the earth's forest destruction. The climate is about to breakdown, as countries' production increasing. Preserving or restoring carbon in soil will produce an annual cost-effective climate reduction of 3 billion tonnes. Therefore, we should manage the agricultural system considerably to enhance carbon storage, as well as soil health and sustainable food production. However, many farm owners cannot afford to buy fertilizer to prevent soil degradation, which causes those soil can only store a little carbon and could cause a more serious impact on climate. Farmers may improve productivity between harvests by planting a "cover crop" to help recover nutrients in the soil. Such cover crops can be ploughed and mixed into the soil at the end of the season in order to improve both productivity and carbon storage, thus reducing topsoil depletion by erosion. This article caught my attention is because climate change is almost the biggest environmental problem human is facing right now. More than 100,000 joined the climate strike at Downtown Vancouver last year and UBC students were all encouraged to join the strike. This article relates to the topic of soil fertility in our class.

Student name: Angela Jiang



Climate change being fuelled by soil damage –report

Due to deforestation and poor farming, carbon is multiple times more carbon in the soil than in the atmosphere and it is enhancing the speed of climate change. The lack of attention from the government on land degradation is also important to human wellbeing as climate change According to the professor from Cranfield University has pointed that “ only 3% of the planet's surface is fit for arable production and 75 billion tonners of fertile soil are lost every year” (Jane Rickson) US and UK did some measures such as restored some soils to take over poor quality land but still lots land are needed. Some people suggest protecting soils in the simplest way which is to let the forest grow back. At this point I would like to connect with the lecture, however, the soil has been classified in the different conditions required under the environment. Such as Luvisol and Chernozem that we have dissected in lectures. It never is a simple question, it needs all human recognitions and intense awareness to take action. Student name: XinYue Zhang



'Thank you Greta': natural solutions to UK flooding climb the agenda

The article is about the on-going problems with the flooding issue in the UK. The UK is prone to floods and is only increasing. The article talks about the various reasons for the occurrences of floods. In previous years, the soils in the field would soak up due to high porosity in the soil. Due to the constant usage of agricultural land, more flood plains continue to spread throughout the area. When the soil is constantly being squeezed down due to the weight of the heavy machinery, the porosity of the soils decrease which results in less-aeration and less drainage which results in flood plains. Scientists say by giving these lands a break, it will give the soil time to gain back it’s nutrients. More farmers are being aware of this and thus decreasing the occurrence of flooding. This is important to me because albeit the article is about the UK, it is important to gain a sense of what is happening around us in regards to soil and how it affects agriculture because agriculture also can impact the world internationally because of global trade. This topic relates to APBI 200 because we learned about soil porosity and soil compaction and how that can affect the soil quality (like water retention and nutrient values) and also lead to natural disasters like floods.

Student: En Jung (Jessy) Hwang



2012 research had identified Indonesian city Palu as high risk of liquefaction

This article explains the soil science behind the large amount of destruction that occured in Palu due to the earthquake. The city of Palu was even more vulnerable to the 7.5 magnitude earthquake since it has a high risk of liquefaction. Liquefaction is explained as a "phenomenon when the soil loses its strength due to a sudden stress such as an earthquake." This article draws several parallels to what we have learned in class. The weak soil in Palu that has a high risk of liquefaction is due to a soil that has a higher concentration of sand because when sand is saturated it becomes unstable. After reading this article I was able to relate it to many topics that we learnt in APBI 200 one mainly being soil texture. After learning the characteristics of sandy soils I was able to understand why sandy soils are more susceptible to liquefaction as compared to clay soils. Sand particles are coarse, micropores that do not retain water well which causes it to loose strength and structure when shear stress is applied to it. I think this is an important article because it explains to readers that land development projects such as building construction should only be constructed on stable soils. Student Name: Vinya Nadimpalli



The influence of soil on immune health

Environmental microbes influence the bacterias on peoples’ skin because country teens have more diverse Acinetobacter (a bacteria that is commonly found on plants). This bacteria leads to more leukocytes in the human bloodstream which produce more anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. (According to The Scientist). Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern asserts that “there is a direct contribution of the soil to human health” since a finding suggests that rural teens have fewer allergies. 
 This news is very interesting to me, it is very relevant to the soil organism and soil biology I learned in APBI 200 class. One experiment explains that mice that live on clean bedding were “more susceptible to develop lung inflammation than…… the mice in contact with soil”(According to The Scientist). I knew that soil is the most diverse habitat, but before reading this news, I didn’t know spending time in nature and soil is good for human health.


Name: Xuxinyue Becca Wang



Deepwater Horizon News Analysis by Zekun Yu Student# 15344658

Name:Zekun Yu Student Number: 15344658 The article was posted on April 1st, 2020

    Deepwater Horizon is an offshore drilling rig that drilled the deepest oil well in history. On April 20th, 2010, while drilling at the Macondo Prospect, a blowout caused an explosion on the rig that killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball visible from 40 miles (64 km) away. The fire was inextinguishable and, two days later, on 22 April, the Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the seabed and causing the largest oil spill to ever occur in U.S. waters and cause acute contamination on the nearby land and ecosystem.
    In the article, the author investigates the long-term effects of Deepwater Horizon of nearby land and ecosystem. In some areas where the oil layer from Deepwater Horizon was light, the oil was soaked into the wetland soils. Plants can help reduce the oil in the soil if the soil macropores are not completely taken up by oil. Plants also participate in preventing erosion, when the plants die from the contamination, the soil was washed out by ocean water without protection. Therefore, some soil is permanently lost. For the aquatic ecosystem, the spilled oil spent time in the ocean, based on the article. most of the residue left from the spilled oil  is absorbed by ocean microbes after generations of life cycle spilled oil was founded in the body of many ocean lives and some amount of oil eventually becomes deposits on the bottom of the ocean but the effects of this in deep waters is unknown. Overall, most of polluted land and ecosystem is substantially recovered. It’s hard to find significant coastal long-term damage to nature.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon http://soilweb200.landfood.ubc.ca/soil-components/ https://soilsmatter.wordpress.com/2020/04/01/deepwater-horizon-what-will-the-future-bring/



"Elephants help keep soil fertile"

Article found that there is twice as much carbon in soil of grazing areas that include elephants than those without them. Soil nitrogen was also higher– in common grass, it was around ~50% higher in nitrogen content in grazing areas with elephants than areas without them. Elephants don’t remove many nutrients from the soil because they defecate and graze in the same plots. Trees get knocked over when they move to eat leaves and branches, and the consequent vegetation decomposes and add nutrients to the soil. Article estimated that such vegetation can account for around 19% of the extra nutrients.

There is constant conflict where cattle compete with local wildlife for resources. Cattle ranching can often lead to overgrazing, eroding and impoverishing the soil and starving them of nutrients, and helping shrubs invade grasslands; the result is damages to the ecosystem and decrease in overall resources for wildlife and cattle.


his relates to soil biology and nutrients, more specifically a part of nitrogen cycling. Article shows an example of sustainable coexistence between livestock and wildlife, and local benefit of wildlife conservation. Megaherbivores feed on plots that livestock would, reducing amount of grass and nutrients that livestock could remove. Megaherbivores raid crops, but they also have possibility to keep soil fertile and productive for plant growth– in the long term benefitting both cattle and the wildlife.

Helen Yu



Paying farmers to look after their soil could help with environmental issues according to Royal Society report

This article discusses a new EU agricultural bill that proposes the Environmental Land Management Scheme. This is a payment scheme that would provide financial support to farmers implementing sustainable soil management practices. Recent studies report that - as we have learned in class - soil performs many vital ecosystem roles including creating habitat, biocontrol, flood management, nutrient cycling, carbon storage, etc. An ecology professor describes how poorly agricultural fields are currently being managed and how this is resulting in the loss of nearby woodland and wetland environments. He says the environmental role of soil is usually overlooked, so the EU now has the opportunity to include soil initiatives in land management policy and create a huge environmental impact. The Bill will pay farmers to reduce soil compaction and erosion so the soil can continue providing those important ecosystem services while still producing a high crop yield. This topic is interesting to me because I got to work on an agricultural bill for the Massachusetts government that had a similar strategy as the ELMS. It also relates to our class discussion topics of the ecosystem services provided by soil and how human land use can limit plant growth and environmental integrity.

Zoe Foster



The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it's rapidly disappearing

The article that I chose discusses the importance of treating topsoil properly in order to reap its benefits and sustain our human population. It discusses how farming techniques used to ensure short-term fertility can be more harmful in the long run, such as tilling and using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. According to this news article, in the last 150 years, over half of the world’s most productive soil has been degraded to point that it is not usable for crop-growing. Also, if we continue degrading the soil as we do now, the world could run out of productive top soil in just 60 years. The news article specifically discusses a farm in Nebraska. When the brothers realized the harm brought by tilling specifically, they began planting what are called “cover crops” between harvests in substitute as these crops are simply planted to benefit the wellbeing of the soil through the addition of organic matter. These crops benefit their regular corn and soybean farming because the organic matter contributed through cover crops serves as food for bacteria and fungi, which are responsible for improving soil structure, recycling nutrients and decomposing organic material. Feeding these microbes is important because they provide the nitrogen necessary for plants to grow in harvesting season. This information is important because it shows a way to improve soils rather than just being a negative article. I think this is helpful today because there is a lot of talk about the problems in the environment but not as much talk about solutions. This is also important because it shows farmers a way to improve their soils in order to provide for the continuously growing human population; if there is not healthy topsoil, the population will not be sustained. This article directly relates to topics such as the nitrogen cycle, the role of microbes and soil fertility in APBI200.

Kate Morrison



Huge knowledge gap over health of soil

Soil scientists have identified an important knowledge gap in Britain's environment. They found that only 0.41 percent of the money spent on environmental monitoring was spent on soil testing. Although soils around the world - including the UK - are in crisis. At the meanwhile, UK government spent huge amount of money on air and water monitoring. This reflects a general lack of investment in soil health compared to air and water. The soil scientists also identified that "By investing in soil monitoring, we can actually save money and the environment, because knowing soil can also tell us a lot about water and air health. For that, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) claimed that it was planning to design a target for healthy soil and set up a new national soil monitoring scheme.

Soil is closely related to us. The survival of human beings is based on the existence of soil. However, at present, due to the scarcity of soil knowledge, we are not able to understand and use soil very well. The topic of the relationship among soil, water and air which illustrate the apply of soil water content is closely relates to APBI200. The important reason that we study APBI200 is to make up for the lack of knowledge in this field.

Xiang Liu



Aeolian transport of viable microbial life across the Atacama Desert, Chile: Implications for life on Mars

In this article, Azua-Bustos et al. (2019) report the exciting finding that a diverse array of microbes is successfully transported by the wind into a hyper-arid portion of the Atacama Desert in Chile. The Atacama Desert, with extremely low annual precipitation, is generally quite inhospitable to life. This recent finding is thus interesting not only for the ecology of this particular habitat but also in light of its implication for potential microbial life on Mars, for which the Atacama has been used as a proxy.

Azua-Bustos et al. (2019) compared microbial transport by the wind along two transects, both of which extended approximately 50 km from the Pacific Ocean into the Atacama Desert. Along the transects, they collected dust and used Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA to detect bacterial and fungal taxa, respectively. Interestingly, Azua-Bustos et al. (2019) found a variety of microbes, some of which (e.g., Solibacillus silvestris) are associated with plants of the Coastal Range, which is rather far from the sampled transects. Azua-Bustos et al. (2019) also encountered marine-origin and long-distance-dispersed bacteria such as Oceanobacillus ochorhynchi and Kocuria flava (from China). As concerns fungi, they found Aspergillus versicolor, which is common in soil and seawater, and Ophiosphaerella herpotricha, an associate of grass rhizospheres.

Intriguingly, microbial transport in the Atacama occurred more frequently in the afternoon than in the morning, due to temporally-distinct speed, direction, and altitude of the wind. This means that aeolian-dispersed microbes auspiciously arrive in the hyper-arid Atacama core when UV radiation is diminishing and relative humidity is increasing, thus facilitating survival. Taxa transported in the afternoon also exhibited provenances of farther origin than did those arriving on the weaker morning winds.

This research indicates that aeolian transport of microbes can successfully take place in an extremely dry and dusty environment, not unlike that of Mars. Wind on Mars may thus have aided surface dispersal of microbial life (Azua-Bustos et al. 2019).

This article interests me in its biological, ecological, and spatial focus. I particularly find there to be something beautiful about the way that abiotic forces such as wind interact with biota to create species distributions. This paper relates most to APBI 200 content on soil microbes but is also, in its aeolian focus, reminiscent of wind transport of particular types of parent material, such as loess.



Can 'Carbon Smart' Farming Play a Key Role in the Climate Fight?

Presently, some 11% (nearly 1.5 billion hectares) of the globe’s land surface is used for crop production. Born and raised in the prairies of Southern Manitoba, I have strong ties to the field of agriculture and the people that make up this community. Farmers and the products that they produce are in higher demand than ever, and as our population continues to increase, so does this demand. This increase in demand has led to a modification in agricultural practices, practices that are now viewed as harmful to our environment. The relationship between climate change and agriculture is to me, an interesting point of discussion within the realm of soil science and has led to my further analysis of how the effects of agricultural practices can be altered to help conquer the climate emergency.

Farmer’s are responding to the need for more sustainable agricultural practices, and the article “Can ‘Carbon Smart’ Farming Play a Key Role in the Climate Fight?” by Gabriel Popkin details some of these actions. Popkin describes how emerging markets are paying farmers to store more carbon in the soil for their improvement of agricultural practices. It digs into the complexity of greenhouse gas flows into and out of soils (a topic of importance to the APBI 200 coursework), and how scientists are questioning whether or not the farmers efforts will actually be effective in slowing down the effects of global warming. A great read!



Dynamics of Soil Respiration in Alpine Wetland Meadows Exposed to Different Levels of Degradation in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China

Jessica Schmidt, 70714928

The article I chose here was published in May 2019, in the journal Scientific Reports, by Li et. al. The authors here assess how degradation affects soil respiration in alpine meadows, by measuring respiration across the growing season on 4 types of soil, each with different levels of degradation. Through this study, the authors found carbon content of vegetation and soil respiration decreased significantly with increasing degradation. This article links closely to several aspects of APBI 200. Learning about nutrient cycling, the factors that lead to degradation, and the aspects of soil that lead to good plant growth, all helped me understand this article in a more meaningful way. As a student in ecology studying elevational ranges in tropical ecosystems, the alpine has always been a fascinating habitat to me. Abiotic are of great important in the alpine, as precipitation, wind, and temperature play more of a role over biotic factors like species interactions. The effects of the harsher environment of the alpine trickle down to community composition and adaptations, and the idea of it affecting even the soil is a fascinating thought to me. Tying in aspects of soil science and having the opportunity to learn how respiration is measured were additional factors that led me to choose this article.



Why protecting soil carbon is a win-win for farmers and the planet

This article comments on the importance of protecting the carbon that is stored in soils. Farmers are struggling to provide enough food for ever growing populations in a sustainable fashion. Traditional farming techniques have been degrading soil to produce the massive outputs that are required of them. Increasing our food output by between 25% and 70% by 2050 to continue to feed our society is difficult to imagine.

However, the answer may be in maintaining soil carbon. The soil fertility that has been lost due to reliance on fertilizers and poor management can be returned with a few crucial farming techniques that restore the carbon content of soils. Obviously, trees and plants convert the anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere into biomass that can be returned to the soil via root exudates. Therefore, by using agroforestry and cover crops to restore soil carbon, farmers can increase the output of their farms while also contributing to the deposition of atmospheric carbon into the soil.

As a 4th year environmental science major, I am acutely aware of the climate crisis that looms over us. So often, any talk about changing our lifestyles is met with worry about the cost. Win-win scenarios like those presented in this article are always bring me hope for the future of our climate. I believe this topic ties our learning about soil organic matter to the real world quite nicely. It shows that we can use the knowledge we acquire in class to dramatically change the world.

Matthew Campbell (27848100)



Elephants Improve Soil Nutrients!

A longterm research was done at the Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya, from the years of 1995 to 2015. Through this experiment that they had set out, they found that the nutrients level in a defined land, where elephants were present was higher compared to the land where elephants had absolutely no access to. Judith Sitters found that the carbon levels were nearly doubled and nitrogen was higher in areas with the presence of elephants, as a pose to no elephants. The grass contained 50% more nitrogen, making it more nutritious due to the elephants. The reason found as to why elephants don't remove a lot nutrients from the soil is because they defecate in the same area they graze. Another reason, is that they often knock down trees to eat the leaves and branches, but what is left creates floor litter and, eventually, soil organic matter.

  This discovery is particularly important to me because I absolutely believe that each living organism contributes to this infinite cycle of life. And I like to learn such discoveries that prove it. Elephants are endangered in some countries, therefore I think it's also important to learn more about them. The discovery topic in the article relates to the APBI 200 course because it explores the effects of living organisms on soil nutrients. 

Adra Al-Shakarji (25115981)



Dirty secret: Soil reveals Antarctica had rainforests 90M years ago (posted by Lukas Olson 20982393)

This news article describes how soil scientists analyzing soil samples recovered from the ocean floor of the Amundsen Sea were shocked to discover that deep, ancient soil horizons were comprised of organic matter complete with intact roots, spores, and pollen akin to that of a coniferous forest. This article is important to me because it shows possible climatic conditions under intense greenhouse gas environments and because the discovery could help with future climate change modelling.

This article is related to many topics that have been covered in APBI 200 including but not limited to, soil formation processes, soil biology and biochemistry, and soil classification.



Amanda Karaca- Microplastic contamination

The article is about the results of a study which examined how microplastics affect earthworms. Soil fauna are critical to nutrient cycling, and earthworms are especially good at facilitating the activities of other biota through their feeding and movement. It is a god reminder to look carefully at the possible contaminants in fertilizers ie biosolids as we try to find ways to deal with nutrient outflows from cities, and find resource efficient ways of adding nutrient to soils. Micro plastics are a very persistent contaminant, so accumulations may lead to long term damage to soil fertility.



Shedding light on how much carbon tropical forests can absorb (Valentina Moncada)

In this article, science daily synthesizes a study published by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis(IIASA). This article states that tropical forest ecosystems are an essential part of the carbon cycle as they store large amounts of carbon from atmospheric CO2. The IIASA study showed that differences in nutrient cycling and availability affected the ecosystem's ability to store carbon. They emphasize that understanding the complexity of ecosystems through botany, plant ecology, and geology (actually soil science) is necessary in order to determine how much carbon can be sequestered in tropical forest ecosystems. This is important to me because I come from Costa Rica which has tropical rainforests throughout the country and many reserves with this ecosystem. It relates to APBI 200 because IIASA emphasizes that soil texture and chemistry due to their effects in nutrient availability and Plant available water content which may be influenced by global changes. The study showed that soils with more nutrient availability and less dense can support a higher diversity of plant species which amplifies the carbon sequestring effects.



Dirty secret: Soil reveals Antarctica had rainforests 90M years ago

In this article, Josh K. Elliott explains the recent findings that analyses of soil samples from Antarctica revealed that rainforests used to exist in that area during the Cretaceous Period. He explains that warm and life-sustaining climates were possible in this area due to high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keeping the planet at very warm temperatures.

The soil sample, composed of silt and clay, that revealed this information was taken from 27 meters below the ocean floor off the coast of the south pole. The sample reportedly was analyzed to find that the sampled layer was formed in a rainforest, not as an ocean floor layer. Elliott described the soil sample as "dark brownish-grey" and full of "secrets" including evidence of roots, pollen, and spores from 65 different plant species.

The importance of this article is that scientists are reportedly now using the article's findings for climate change models, as the Cretaceous Period's extreme carbon concentrations may help paint a more accurate model for our planet's climatic trajectory as carbon emissions continue to increase during this Anthropocene.

While the article does not go in-depth on the procedural analysis of the soil sample, it does reflect the impact of soil scientists' work and its practical applications, making it absolutely relevant for soil science students and the scientific community at large.

Jessie See-Fernandez (16464349)



New UBC findings can improve soil on Delta farms

In the news report “New UBC findings can improve soil on Delta farms”, the Delta Optimist discusses the study that was completed in April 2019 about improving agricultural soils in the Fraser river delta region. The study included farmers setting aside grasslands for two planting seasons in order to help the soil rejuvenate and become more productive years later. Depending on the original state that the farmer’s fields were in, they saw different outcomes after they enrolled in the program. Their findings explained that highly degraded fields showed minimal improvements after not using them for two growing seasons. In comparison, fields that were moderately degraded showed improvements that would help their yield in future years. Furthermore, the article explained how the Fraser river delta region can have high amounts of salt present in the soil due to the close proximity to the ocean; increased levels of salinity can be detrimental to plant health and growth. This information relates to APBI200 because the article discusses how continuing to use fields for farming and production can negatively impact soil structure and cause compaction, therefor, creating more challenging conditions for plants to grown in. In other words, soil compaction can close macro pores and drastically effect soil properties and the way that plants grow in it.

Student: Alex Ferreira



The Importance of Soil in Aiding the Climate Catastrophe

This article talks about the importance of carbon in soil and how “leaving soil alone” can be a cost effective way of reducing carbon emissions as agriculture is one the highest-emitting industries in the world. It is stated that keeping, and increasing, the carbon is soils is a win-win scenario for farmers and the planet. This is because having high carbon concentrations in the soil helps agricultural production meaning less fertilizer will have to be used and in result less run-off will occur harming humans and wildlife. This article directly relates to what we learned in class as we were taught carbon is very important in soils as it acts as a food source for soil organisms and supports plant growth. This article is also very relevant to our everyday lives and our future. If we do not start finding new ways to restore carbon and to conserve it from being emitted as a greenhouse gas than the climate situation will become worse and impact our future and well-being. Climate change has become a big worry in today's society and even here at the University of British Columbia. However, there are many people who do not believe in climate change and articles like this one further educate people on the climate situation and how we can contribute. Atiyah Heydari 50407717



“The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it's rapidly disappearing”

This news stated the world is losing topsoil which is crucial for growing foods. It also provides some data to support its ideas such as the US are losing their topsoil ten times faster than it can restore. If they are not changing their way on soil management they will lose all the topsoil in 60 years. However, there are also potential solutions by planting cover crops and not tilling the land. Some farmers decide to adopt these methods which contribute to increased soil organic matter. Furthermore, the uses of these methods have been increased by 8% across nationally in the US for over five years from 2012 to 2017. The news ended by concluding the importance of protecting the topsoil so it doesn’t become a catastrophe. I choose this news because I felt it is relevant to me since I get exposed to this type of discussion at a young age. My dad is an agriculturist which enhances my curiosity about these issues. Finally, the news itself also relates to this course as we have learned a lot about the role of soil organic matter in soil horizons.

Yunshu Du (Lily)



Plant root hairs key to reducing soil erosion

Researchers at the University of Bristol have shown that the microscopic root hairs from primary plant tissue play a larger role in preventing soil erosion than what was initially suspected. While macroscopic properties such as root length and diameter are commonly studied, the properties of the root hairs (which are microscopic off-shoots from plant roots) are not studied in as much depth. Particularly, they compared plants with and without root hairs, and determined that the root hairs act to almost entirely prevent the erosion of soil, whereas plants with only macroscopic roots that don’t contain root hairs have difficulty preventing much of the erosion that occurs. This interconnection between soil biology and physics is important when considering current management practices and how they can be improved in both forestry and agricultural systems.

The researchers hope that this information will be useful in leading agricultural practices and could potentially be helpful when utilizing crop selections to best prevent soil erosion.

Graydon Gillies



Mulch is like the warm hug you give to the soil

This article explains how mulch is not to be wasted. The author keeps a huge pile of mulch in her driveway and scouts for it in the Autumn. She uses the mulch to improve her garden beds. While in isolation due to COVID-19, her family wanted to start a garden and compost in order to grow their own sustenance. She explains, In order to make topsoil; you must add mulch to the top layer of garden beds as it aids in the regulating the soil temperature and moisture, suppression of weeds and caption of carbon. She explains there are also many benefits to mulching – you cut down on water usage. At the end she states that ‘one hug is never enough’ because mulch breaks down and your garden will need more compost, more mulch. Soil health is needed constant attention. This information is important to me as it relates to what we have learned in soil science about soil physical properties. Mulching has to do with thermal diffusivity, thermal admittance, thermal conductivity and soil heat capacity. By adding mulch, you effectively decrease the admittance and diffusivity into the soil. Mulch decreases the fluctuations in temperature of the subsoil as it insulates it. This improves the health of the soil and the plants in you garden.



The Peat Bogs of Ireland

This interactive report from the New York times highlights the diversity of things, living and dead, in the peat bogs of Ireland! At one point in time, the country of Ireland had about one fifth of its land covered by peat bogs. The report goes on to highlight the various ways that peat bogs have been an important feature in Ireland- culturally, socially, scientifically and historically. Peat bogs are characterized by anaerobic conditions and low pH. The water table is quite high in their soils, found under the bogs surface, and they are saturated. Due to these anaerobic conditions, decomposition is extremely slow. Because of this we find well preserved artefacts ranging from the gates of communities, animals…and human bodies! While the preservation of artefacts is interesting from a scientific and cultural lens, we also see the significance of peat for fuel, which has provided Irish people the ability to heat their homes and cook their food for over 1,000 years, with the practice ongoing! But as we might imagine, as everywhere else in the world these bogs have been drain for other land use purposed: agriculture and forestry certainly included! However, by lowering the water table through so doing, we also change conditions underground, making them favourable to microorganisms, which are now decomposing millennia worth of accumulated biomass. That’s going to be a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere, yet another reason to protect our often overlooked peat bogs, from Ireland to every corner of the globe!

Jacob Beauregard 57140931



Why protecting soil carbon is a win-win for farmers and the planet

United Nations reported in 2019 that the current food system is bringing destruction to forests around the globe and people have to examine how they grow food in order to improve the climate change, but due to the growing population it is hard for countries to keep farming sustainable. However, there is a new study reports that it is possible to make food production sustainable through the carbon stored in soil. - trees and plants absorb and store CO2 from the atmosphere and through their lifecycles, the carbon stored in trees and plants gradually leak into soil making soil a carbon sink - carbon can increase the fertility of the soil which crop growth, increase water storage and enhance the health of the entire farm - in order to keep up with the food demand, some farmers would use excessive amount of fertilizers and pesticides which causes soil to degrade and to a point the soil can no longer store carbon properly - Protecting and restoring soil carbon is an example of a natural climate solution (win-win solution for farming and the environment)

The information form this article is important to me because I am a forestry student, not only I learned about soil I also learned about plants and one of the biggest problem the world is facing right now is climate change. Finding an effective way to improve the climate as well as food systems is crucial.

The article relates to soil biology & nutrients and soil fertility.

Philip Zheng 35545185



Are plant root hairs capable to reduce soil erosion?

News inform that researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter have studied the plant root hairs' role in reducing soil erosion. The study focused on the root hair-producing plant, Arabidopsis Thaliana, and almost identical plants that lack root hairs to compare how soil erosion changes with and without the presence of root hairs. Samples were first placed on a sterile gel and it was found that hairless roots were easily removed from the gel in comparison to plants with hairy roots. The research found that plants with root hairs are capable to maintain the plant in the soil firm since they intensify the force to uproot the seedling. It was also found that root hairs almost completely minimize the erosion of water. The research team reasons that the reduction of erosion in the soil in the presence of root hairs could be due to the soil directly binding to the surfaces of root hair, or a reinforcing material secreted by the root hairs to the soil or root hairs releasing material processed by soil microbes that makes the plant reinforce to the soil. This research is relevant for soil science students since it illustrates the importance of soil organisms since the findings suggest that soil flora not only provides large quantities of organic residues to the soil, but it also contributes to the soil’s equilibrium processes such as soil degradation. Research further allows us to create and select the best fitting agricultural plants in soils. Sofia Fernandez 78020872



Rootin’, poopin’ African elephants help keep soil fertile

Cattle ranching has been growing across the African savanna, a region rich in unique biodiversity with many endangered species. As a result, the competition is causing a decline in the local wildlife population and the soil quality is depleting due to eroding, impoverishing and overgrazing. This article reports experiments where wild herbivores, particularly elephants, were allowed into cattle enclosures to graze and defecate alongside them. The results have proven to be mutually beneficial for both the wildlife and the cattle, as well as keeping the quality of the soil intact.

In this experiment, grazing areas were sectioned off where some prohibited all wildlife, some allowed medium-sized grazers such as zebras and gazelles, and some allowed elephants in addition to those. Samples of soil and vegetation from each enclosure – including one with no cattle – were analyzed. In the soil where elephants grazed, nearly twice as much carbon and significantly more nitrogen was found, providing additional available nutrients for plants. These measurements were similar to those from a field excluding cattle. Additionally, about 50% more nitrogen was found in a common grass where elephants were present, providing both animals with more nutritious grass.

This article takes what we learned about the importance of carbon and nitrogen in soil fertility (SOM, N-cycle) and applies it to a real world problem. I found this particularly interesting as human development is often separated from the natural world, but this shows that we can find ways to symbiotically coexist.

Katia Leo 69115376



Soil in the news - soil in antarctica

Name: Phyllis Lesnikov

This news article was published on April 2nd, 2020, by Josh K. Elliott in Global News. Link: https://globalnews.ca/news/6768632/antarctica-rainforest-swamp/

this news article covers a recent finding by scientists investigating soil cores from Antarctica; the scientists – who come from a variety of universities including Northumbria University and the University of Bremen – logged core estimated to be 90 million years old to a depth of 27 meters. They expected to find soil from an ancient seafloor, but instead found that the sample was from an ancient rainforest. The scientists know it’s from an ancient rainforest because of its properties – it was a dark, brownish-grey and contained fossilized roots, as well as pollen and spores from 65 different plant species. It was also composed of silt and clay; this wouldn’t have been the case of a sea-floor sample. These are topics we learned about in APBI 200, particularly in topics related to soil horizons, soil classification, and soil structure.

The study is significant because it indicates that this time period would have been characterized by extremely high carbon dioxide conditions, and plants that lived in a low light, albeit temperate climate because of those atmospheric carbon dioxide conditions. This knowledge is particularly relevant as scientists prepare for and try to predict the conditions and consequences of the impeding climate change crisis. As someone who is in environmental science, and potentially interested in climate change research, the cross-over between knowledge on soil science and climate change, and how we can use soil to learn about past climatic conditions, is important to me too.

Climate-induced soil changes may cause more erosion and flash flooding

This article described the issue of climate-induced soil changes may result in a series of natural disaster. There are several reasons why climate change cause more and more erosion and flash flooding, the scientists researched the influence of climate change on macro porosity, the great number of large pores, especially large than 0.009 mm in diameter, it has better water absorption and transfer into the surrounding soil, which can used by plants and return to underground aquifers. According to the research data, scientists tested changes in macro porosity across a rainfall, temperature and humidity gradient. They found macro pores were more likely to develop in climate which is drier compared with humid climates. Therefore, the result could be less infiltration of water into the ground, it also cause more surface runoff and erosion, and more flash flooding. In addition, this mews is important to me because I am a forestry student and I am really concerned about the environmental protection issues. Moreover, related to the knowledge that we have learnt in class, I found this news article has strongly connection to it. For instance, water potential gradient which is the change in water potential per unit distance along the axis of flow, also we know that hydraulic conductivity is affected by soil porosity, pore size, water content and tortuosity. Junjie Zhang 86681301



Antarctica was once covered in rainforests

A recent report in the journal Nature has revealed that, around 90 million years ago, Antarctica was once covered in rainforests. When researching on the continent, researchers were surprised to discover up to 3 metres of soil. The soil was dark-brownish grey, with a complex matrix of fossilized roots and components of vascular plants. Additionally, there were traces of spores and pollen 35 different plant species. The texture of the soil was primarily composed of silt and clay. The difference in colour between this layer of soil and the adjacent layers was what let researchers know that the soil was, in fact, from a forest floor and not a sea floor. The forest floor was similar to those of New Zealand and, at the time, the weather was similar to present day Toronto or Frankfurt.

This is important because it uses the concepts of soil texture, structure, and the knowledge of soil organisms and their residue to comprehend the type of soil found. The soil texture is used to analyze the mineral/inorganic component of soil and the remnants of plant residue like root systems can be used to understand the biology in the soil at the time.

Raunaq Nambiar



Protecting and Restoring Soils Could Remove 5.5 Billion Tonnes of CO2 a Year

This article explains how restoring and protecting soil can help remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. The article mainly interviews Dr. Deborah Bossi, a soil scientist and author, who's goal is to emphasize the importance of soil as a natural solution to the climate crisis. It's mentioned how soil makes up 25% of potential climate solutions, and that enhancing soil's carbon sequestering capabilities and protecting existing soils could remove up to 5.5billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide a year! Dr. Bossi also mentions the tension between the need to preserve soils to reap the multiple benefits, and the need to destroy ecosystems for agriculture to support a growing population. This topic I find particularly interesting because of how complex finding that balance can be, and this topic is important to me because with a crisis the scope of our current climate crisis, I think its important to consider all aspects that could be involved to help mitigate, such as soil (something I had never really thought of before!) This article relates specifically to APBI 200's lectures regarding carbon recycling in the soil through the decomposition of plant residues (soil organisms). Additionally, the article mentioned how "in farming systems, soil carbon levels are at a state where, if you improve them, you get benefits in terms of water regulation, water quality, stabilizing production and resilience in the systems" which relates directly to APBI 200 lectures explain how water gets transported through soils (soil water), and buffering capacity of soils (soil chemistry). Overall, the article also explains soil as both an important resource for natural ecosystems as well as agriculture, both of which are classic application topics to APBI 200 test questions!

-Summary by Megan Francisco, 60454691



Climate change may cut soil's ability to absorb water

from Rutgers University source Summary :What is the article about? Why is it important to you? What topic does it relate to in APBI 200?

When climate change affects coasts, oceans, ecosystems, weather and human health, soil health is also affected. Climate change could reduce the ability of soil to absorb water in many parts of the world, according to a study led by Rutgers. This could have serious connections for groundwater supply, food production, and security, stormwater runoff, biodiversity, and ecosystems. According to Giménez of the school of environment and Biological Sciences, the water content in soil is very important for carbon storage, and soil change may affect carbon dioxide content in the air in an unpredictable way. Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases related to climate change. Also, the increased precipitation due to climate change may lead to less water infiltration, more runoff and erosion, and greater risk of flash flooding. The result of a 25-year in Kansas prove that "a 35 percent increase in rainfall led to a 21 percent to 33 percent reduction in water infiltration rates in soil and only a small increase in water retention." A quote suddenly appears in my mind, “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." Of course, just because you don't feel responsible doesn't mean you don't,none of these snowflakes is innocent. If we turn a blind eye to these small changes, the snowballs that made by all of us will destroy us. I hope these are not only the results of experiments but also the warning bells that we humans will take as a warning.

Yuhan Chen



Restoring soils could remove up to ‘5.5bn tonnes’ of greenhouse gases every year

This article (by Carbon Brief) is more summary based and reviews the importance of soil and its carbon storages. the article is written for the average reader and lacks more advanced terminology. Some of its key points include the fact that the largest greenhouse gas removal potential comes from protecting existing forests and reforestation and that "this technique could offset 1.2bn tonnes of CO2e a year when only forest soil carbon is considered.". This article relates to our APBI 200 class and is important to me as it touches base on some common soil knowledge that everyone should know but isn't as widespread news. During the course, this semester, I learned the role soil plays in the carbon cycle in a more in-depth way than this article provides but Dunne also gives some statistics which help relate my learning in class to more examples globally. The more surprising side of reading this article is that while reading it, it brings up things in my mind that I've learned in class that isn't in the article but could be also important such as soil ph, parent material as well as texture. It's refreshing to read this article and think about the topics we covered in class.



Purdue study downgrades Arctic methane emissions thanks to soil microbes

Professor Qianlai Zhuang in the departments of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and Agronomy at Purdue University and graduate student Youmi Oh have discovered soil microbes in Arctic mineral uplands that consume atmospheric methane. This is significant because as the global temperature increases due to climate change permafrost in the Arctic is predicted to melt, sending large amounts of the dangerous greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere. While it is true that soil microbes that consume methane (methanotrophs) are also found in the organic soil Arctic wetlands they do not consume methane from the atmosphere as ones in mineral upland soils have been found to. “This group of bacteria utilizes atmospheric methane as an energy source,” Zhuang said. “The emissions from wetlands will still potentially be quite large, but if you consider the uplands, then the area-aggregated net emissions will be much smaller than previously thought.” While this accounts for only one permafrost area, it does highlight the importance of soil organisms’ effect on the atmosphere. As well as the role they may play in combating climate change. This is relevant to APBI 200 because we have discussed soil microbes' ability to process and consume gases, the biological differences in mineral and organic soils and the makeup of permafrost soil. This article is important because it shows that knowledge about the various processes of soil and how they affect ecosystems could be crucial in coming up with solutions and better understanding of important ecological issues, such as the climate crisis.



Cleaning up oil spills of the Amazon rainforest

This article discusses how bioremediation with native species is being used to re-establish soils which have been polluted by oil spills in low income communities in the Amazon. Bioremediation uses plants, fungi and bacteria to break down pollutants, such as crude oil. Large oil companies have dumped billions of gallons of crude oil in Ecuador and while they removed the bulk of it, the soil remediation was not taken care of, leaving many farmers with open air pits of oil and non-productive crop lands. Through laboratory testing of soil pH levels, native plant species were chosen as crops for cleaning the soils and as crops. Soils were turned regularly to increase oxidation and bacterial activity. Some plants may store toxins while others may use it as a food source, turning it into nutrients. This process is much slower than methods such as soil washing but can maintain soil structure and soil nutrients while being low cost and providing crops.

In Canada willow trees are believed to be a crude oil remediation plant. Healthy soils are important to human life and pollution is an ever-growing problem, so natural methods of keeping soils clean and usable is an important topic globally. This article is interesting, because it points out how much work is to be done in finding native plants, fungi and bacteria that works in bioremediation dependant on the geographical area and individual site.

(shelby kimmett)



Mycelium used in new materials

The author makes a short introduction on multi-celled yeasts and fungi. He explains the ecological services that those organisms provide and how widespread they are (unbeknownst to many). The author then proceeds to explain that fungal mycelium can be coaxed into growing in controlled conditions. These organisms, if provided with the right conditions, reproduce extremely fast. Research has demonstrated that it is possible to direct growth patterns in ways that form new types of materials, like Mushroom (registered trademark) which is a Styrofoam substitute for takeout containers. Since fungi grow so fast, it is a practical and possibly economical way to generate much needed materials. And since they are made with 100% biodegradable compounds, their harm to the environment is virtually minimal. All that is needed to grow them are merely: a temperature-controlled ambient, nutrients and moisture. Pounds can be made weekly in an area sized 12x18 inches. These applications of mostly overlooked life forms prove that humans have a very long route ahead to acquiring more knowledge what lurks around us!

Michel Bujnicki Zablith, 83861559



Climate change may cut soil's ability to absorb water

This article talks about how climate change will affect the soil's ability to absorb water. In this article, researchers believe that the recent climate change has cut the soil's ability to absorb water. As precipitation increases, the capacity of soil aeration decreases. With more water, the root of plants will be attended to grow thicker which occupies the space of some large poles in soil. As a result, the soil's aeration and capacity to store oxygen is affected. This article is very useful to me because the global climate change is an urgent issue which has happened to us and soil is a very important part to be involved in the entire process of global climate change. I believe in my future study, I will learn more about how soils play a role in the ecosystems around the world and especially in the forest ecosystems.This article is related to the soil aeration, soil organisms and,soil's capacity to store oxygen in the APBI 200.

Student: Yunhao Xu



This news is from NASA, its name called University of Nebraska Release New Global Groundwater Maps and U.S. Drought Forecasts. It is published by Ellen Gray,NASA's Earth Science News Team on March 31, 2020. This article involves global warming, soil water content and other information related to the content of APBI. It is very important because it gives people a clear understanding of the current situation of the earth and calls on more people to create a better future by protecting the environment.



Report: One fifth of China's soil contaminated

It is found that 16.1% of China's soil and 19.4% of its arable land showed contamination in between 2005 and 2013, and about 82.8% of the polluted land was contaminated by inorganic materials.



Soil in the News(Jason Li)

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Soil in the News(Jason Li)

This article explains how Climate change has a major impact on soil. As the report says "Without healthier soils and a sustainable land and soil management, we cannot tackle the climate crisis, produce enough food and adapt to a changing climate." Climate change could reduce the ability of soil absorbing water, which could lead to runoff. This could have serious impacts on groundwater supply, food production, plants growth, and the whole ecosystem. According to the article, "Continuing declines in soil moisture can increase the need for irrigation in agriculture and lead to smaller yields and even desertification, with potentially dramatic impacts on food production." This topic is relevant to me because im interested in this field of study, my major is urban forestry. Also climate change is one of the most important issues that we all must consider now.



Country diary: the lair of the blue-grey worm

{{APBI |URL= https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/25/country-diary-the-lair-of-the-blue-grey-worm Date= 2020-02-25 |Authors= Matt Shardlow |Summary= Britain's most colorful earthworm is most often seen in water-logged conditions. A very interesting animal was revealed which is a blue-grey worm. It is a substantially sized earthworm and it is most commonly observed in water-logged conditions when, even in daylight, it leaves its shallow burrows and seek higher ground. It has an easy diagnostic feature-the pale pink head grades into a lilac body and the tip of the tail is abruptly primrose yellow.


Name: Jenni You 97213870

Country diary: the lair of the blue-grey worm

This soil related news is about the discovery of the fact that the world's most beautiful earthworm which is a blue-grey worm is most often spotted in water-logged conditions. A blue-grey worm is a substantially sized earthworm although never as massive as fully-grown lobworm. Blue-grey worm possesses a very distinctive feature. The pale pink head grades into a lilac body and the tip of the tail is abruptly primrose yellow. They are most commonly observed in waterlogged conditions when, even in daylight, they will leave their shallow burrows and seek higher ground. The author spotted several more blue-greys of various sizes, snaking slowly through the fallen leaves. The diversity of clone lines is exceptionally low; it is almost certain that all the blue-grey worms in the wood will be genetically identical.



Jenni You

Dirty secret: Soil reveals Antarctica had rainforests 90M years ago

This article reveals that the desolate and cold stricken continent of Antarctica once was a thriving temperate rainforest in which plants such as ferns would grow. However, this was during the Cretaceous Period 90 million years ago, as dinosaur fossils were discovered in the soil. The focus is that due to the lack of ice sheets and rather a large concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere allowed the continent to be temperate in climate. This new finding is important in understanding the potential of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere based on the past and how it could affect the future. As climate change progresses and more and more carbon dioxide cycles into the atmosphere there is potential for the heating of Antarctica and its ice sheets. This means that the sea level will rise and cause a disruption to the natural ocean currents as the water will begin to get colder influencing wind currents and therefore the climate of the planet. The climate would also be influenced due to permafrost degradation as this process would release greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, while also destroying the soil horizons underneath. This potentially could release carbon stored within the soil therefore contributing to climate change.

Sneha Gupta