I am a soil scientist interested in the biogeochemistry of soils. I’m currently studying how carbon storage in soils is affected by soil characteristics and management practices. This is important because the more carbon that’s stored in the soil, the less that is in the atmosphere trapping heat and causing global warming. A good place to study this is on dairies. In California we have over 1.7 million dairy cows which produce more than 70 billion pounds of manure each year. This is a big source of carbon and while some of it is being stored in soil, I’m interested in how we can increase that amount.
My project has two parts. First, I’m collecting and analyzing soils from pastures on organic dairies in California. Some of these pastures have had manure spread on them for decades, while others haven’t so the only manure that’s been added has been the relatively small amount that “falls” during grazing. The difference in carbon content between these fields will give me an idea of how much carbon can be stored in these
types of grassland soils.
Second, I’m measuring the soil and atmosphere on a large conventional dairy to learn the rate of carbon and nitrogen cycling between them. California dairies are some of the most innovative dairies in the world when it comes to combating global warming, but very little is known about their actual emissions of greenhouse gases. This is important data to have for smart planning and policy making.
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Amundson, R., S. Ewing, W. Dietrich, B. Sutter, J. Owen, O. Chadwick, K. Nishiizumi, M. Walvoord, C. McKay. 2008. On the in situ aqueous alteration of soils on Mars. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72(15): 3845-3864. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2008.04.038
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