Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Laying it Out

The test plots are on an area that was cleared of re-growth forest about 5 years ago. Nothing has been done to disturb the soil here, its virgin ground as far as agricultural use goes. The topsoil is pretty thin, some places as little as 2", at the deep end closer to 6". Not what you'd think of as prime! We are sending soil samples to get a soil profile, which will tell us what the mineral and textural composition of the soil is. We will also be sampling at the start (now), mid season, and post harvest for standard soil tests as well as some more unusual ones - we will monitor the biological activity of the soil through microbial activity assays, we'll count earthworms, and we'll be collaborating with Chris Picone from Fitchburg State College and his students to find out if agriculturally beneficial fungal mycorrhizae populate the soil.

We laid out 12 10'x10' plots, three each of:
"control" undisturbed soil :

"CBMH" cardboard covered with mulch hay:

"NPMH" newsprint covered with mulch hay:

"MHO" mulch hay only: