U of I project comparing soils a century apart; help needed

A new project at the University of Illinois could help researchers better understand how soil has changed in the past century.

Andrew Margenot, associate professor of soil science, tells Brownfield the project is a unique opportunity…

“All states had some kind of soil survey, but very few states maintained and curated the original sample archive.”  He says, “So, this means that if we resample the exact location, for which we have the coordinates, where the soil was sampled in, say 1924, we can understand 100 year change.”

He says the findings could have impacts on anything from soil fertility recommendations to carbon markets…

“What are overall changes that we can expect because of long term crop production?”  He says, “We are using this data to update the Illinois Agronomy Handbook, specifically the recommendations on phosphorus and potassium fertilization.”

But, he says he needs help from landowners and farmers…

“The biggest challenge is identifying, not even who owns a certain piece of ground, but rather a way to contact them and ask for permission,” he says.

Margenot says their research tests will give farmers highly detailed information about their soil…

“We are doing the kitchen sink of analysis,” he says. “Things that you can’t even get analyzed by a commercial soil testing lab. Soil properties, soil fertility and soil health are all included in this package.”

They currently have contacts for about a quarter of the 450 locations, and they’re hoping to resample at least half. 

A link to the map of properties included in the project can be found HERE.

AUDIO: Andrew Margenot – U of I

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