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APPLYING SOIL MICROMORPHOLOGIC TECHNIQUES TO ASSESS SOIL HEALTH ON THE BENCHMARK BARNES SOILS OF EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA

Investigators
Hopkins, D.
Institutions
North Dakota State University
Start date
2020
End date
2025
Objective
This research project utilizes soil micromorphologic techniques to assess condition of the most important benchmark soil in central and eastern North Dakota, the Barnes series. This soil has been markedly degraded by erosion. Its capacity for soil function is compromised on tens of thousands of acres, likely vastly more. Soil micromorphology was investigated once in the history of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station (NDAES), over a half-century ago at a time when thin-section production and analysis technologies were not yet developed. Over two hundred thin-sections have been generated in the Department of Soil Science in my lab since 2015. Since that time instrument capabilities have improved and image analysis (IA) techniques have been employed to not only assess soil qualitatively, but to quantify natural soil architecture and composition. Presently, digital thin-section scans have remarkable resolution and can be used to study and convey the essence of the soil environment down to the scale of tens of microns. Finally, IA products developed will quantify the aggregates that are the "functional domains" in which biogeochemical nutrient cycling occur. The results of these efforts will be presented to producers and lay audiences as evidence that soil change has occurred.The major objectives are the following:1) Characterize soil micromorphologic properties of the benchmark Barnes soil series for both native and cultivated landscapes.2) Utilize high resolution images derived from soil thin sections and image analysis techniques to contrast matrix patterns between native and cultivated Barnes pedons as a proxy for soil function.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
ND02364
Accession number
1023185