Studying Soil Health
Students from Tim Bliss' classes worked with farmers Ben and Denise Bartlett to develop best practices for hay fields that are too remote from the farm to be grazed.
This issue, which relates to ecosystem health and farm financial sustainability, led to an investigation of the relationship between soil microbial activity, soil health, and crop yield.
Students designed an experiment to examine four different treatments and set up test plots on land that had been hayed consistently for several years without being fertilized or grazed. Intern Beau Rondeau collected data over the 2018 growing season. Students visited the site to collect soil samples and hosted a presentation based on those results that was attended by area farmers.
In 2019, students plan to research soil health tests that emphasize biological activity with assistance from MSU Extension Educator Jim Isleib and to continue monitoring the plots in 2019 in preparation for a field day.
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