The Importance of Soil Testing
As a Soil and Water Conservation District, it is no question that we love soil. While perhaps other areas of conservation may be more flashy or glamorous, it is impossible to have a complete understanding of environmental conservation without considering the importance of soil. The food chain has literal roots in soil and a plant may only be as healthy as the environment it lives in. There are a number of different nutrients, microorganisms, pH levels and other related elements which play important roles in determining the health of a certain area. Thankfully, there are methods to test the soil in order to make a decision as to how to improve soil health. Professional soil scientists, also known as pedologists, are able to analyze different soil levels and then make recommendations based on these findings.
There are many different reasons to consider running a soil test on your property. Soil testing is usually done in large-scale agricultural operations. By estimating the levels of nutrients which will be used by plants, farmers and other agricultural producers can use that information to specify fertilizers. Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District strongly recommends utilizing soil testing for all large-scale agricultural producers. Not only is it possible to promote environmental health by avoiding over-fertilization, understanding the correct levels of fertilizer helps save on monetary expenditures.
However, there are many other reasons to test soil outside of large-scale agricultural production which may result in a benefit to soil health. Even starting a small vegetable garden could be helped by first running a soil test. By having comprehensive soil data, it can help inform decisions about the best sections to plant in, specific plants to include, as well as the proper care. Soil tests provide information on soil acidity, levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and many more. Armed with this information, a recreational gardener may be able to provide their plants with the correct levels and specific types of fertilizer.
Another important reason to test soil is to become familiar with possible soil contaminants which may exist in your soil. A few common mineral soil contaminants include arsenic, lead, copper, mercury, zinc, among others. Some of these, notably arsenic and lead, are extremely dangerous. The exposure of lead and arsenic may lead to physical and mental impairments, particularly in children, illness, and in some cases where exposure is constant and untreated, even death. Before constructing a playset or any other area where children may be, it is important to consider a soil test to ensure there are no harmful contaminants.
Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District is able to complete soil testing for members of Monroe County for any number of reasons. MCSWCD is also available to help interpret the results of specific nutrient levels. For more information on exactly how to collect soil samples, please visit the MCSWCD page on soil testing or feel free to email at email@example.com.
The Importance of Wetlands
Once upon a time in the not too distant past, a common view was that a large majority of the United States was filled with swamps, bogs and marshes, which unequivocally needed to be drained to make way for economic growth and development. A study the the Fish and Wildlife Service found that over 221 million acres of wetlands have been lost, However, these environments, all a different type of wetland, are extremely important mainstays of a healthy and complete ecosystem which predates the country’s existence. According to the National Park Service, wetlands are able to provide a number of environmental benefits, including a preventative measure to erosion, carbon sequestration as well as providing a habitat to a number of endemic species, many of which are endangered or threatened in some capacity. Particularly important to a soil and water conservation district is the fact that wetlands are able to improve the quality of the water as well as water supply.
February 2, 2022 is World Wetland Day, which is based in advocacy for the importance of wetlands and the role they play in our environment. In fact, according to the Wetlands Initiative, wetlands are known as “biological super systems'' and are on par with some of the most traditionally viewed diverse places on the planet, such as rainforests and coral reefs. According to Indiana Fish and Wildlife Services, animals specific to Indiana wetlands include the muskrat and the beaver which could not survive without wetlands. It estimates that about 900 species of different animals require wetlands at some point during their lifecycle, including birds, mammals and reptiles. Indiana Fish and Wildlife Services also points out that about 35% of all endangered species need wetlands in order to survive. Further, there are over 120 different wetland plants which are rare or threatened in some capacity.
When it comes to flooding and erosion management, wetlands are able to provide a unique solution to a worsening problem. Not only do wetlands provide stability to coasts, wetlands are able to stop the spread of sediment carried by stormwater. Some wetlands, depending on the specific plant species, are able to stop up to 95% of the sediments. In places where impervious surfaces are continuing to be implemented in our modern world, a solution to the runoff and other flooding problems may be as simple as creating a wetland.
For a local and pristine glimpse into some of the local wetlands in Monroe County, the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve is located right outside of Bloomington and offers stunning views of a wetland nearly undisturbed. The trail through Beanblossom Bottoms is a raised boardwalk directly above the water, offering increased accessibility to those with limited mobility. Not only is Beanblossom Bottoms recognized as a State Nature Preserve, it is also a state Important bird Area and a Wetland of Distinction. For more information and directions, please visit sycamorelandtrust.org.
Information sourced from the Indiana Fish and Wildlife Services, National Park Service, Sycamore Land Trust, Wetlands Initiative,
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