Posted on November 30, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
(photo of the CSR team preparing to apply soil amendments)
Soil amendments, also called soil conditioners, is a material added to soil to improve plant growth and health. A conditioner or a combination of conditioners corrects the soil’s deficiencies in structure and/or nutrients.
The type of soil amendment added depends on the current soil composition, climate, and the type of plant. Some soils lack nutrients necessary for proper plant growth. Some hold too much or too little water. Soil amendments can be incorporated into the soil or applied to the surface.
Examples of soil amendments used by the CSR Team:
- Sulfur and Gypsum – mitigate high pH, high salts and sodium, and compaction
- Zeolite – water and nutrient retention, soil erosion
- Liquid Organic Amendment – humic and fulvic acid and micro-nutrients
- Mycorrhizal inoculum – increases beneficial microbiota in the soil
- Polyacrylamide polymer – reduce erosion, increase water infiltration
Filed under: Biology | Tagged: soil amendments | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 29, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
In honor of GIS Day 2010, CSR GIS department visited the Filer school district this month to present an activity using GIS in decision making. The activity was based on the building of an imaginary dam across the Snake River. It highlighted both the anthropogenic benefits a dam provides and the environmental consequences of building a dam. Students analyzed a proposed dam site for effects on the local flora and fauna, and discussed ways to mitigate the effects on the environment. They also discussed the unanticipated benefits of building the dam in the set location, such as increased property values and the ability to irrigate lands. During this activity they learned map reading skills, cognitive reasoning and decision making needs and tools.
This was the third annual GIS Day CSR has hosted. The intermediate school in Filer has been a faithful participant in these activities and we are thankful to be able to spread GIS awareness and look forward to continuing involvement within our community.
Filed under: GIS | Tagged: education | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 19, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is a winter annual. As such, it is an early colonizer and specifically invades disturbed areas, especially overgrazed and burned sites. Being the winter annual it is, cheatgrass is dry during the summer and fall months, providing a large fuel load during the fire season. The presence of cheatgrass increases the fire return intervals in sagebrush steppe ecosystems until the fires become so frequent sagebrush and other native plants can’t recover. This results in the conversion of sagebrush steppe to a monoculture of invasive weeds. It is a cycle that is difficult to control once it is started.
Filed under: Invasive Focus | Tagged: cheatgrass, invasive species | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 18, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
Native Focus: Trifolium macrocephalum, Large-head Clover, is unusual in a number of respects. While most clovers grow in moist soils or as weeds in disturbed areas, this species is certainly not weedy and grows only in thin , rocky (lithosol) areas that become very dry during the hot summer. Clovers characteristically have three (tri) leaflets (“folium”), but the large-headed clover has five or six, and in this respect the leaves resemble those of Lupines.
The large-headed clover is also our most attractive species of Trifolium. This sprawling, hairy plant spreads by rootstocks, called rhizomes, and forms dense and often extensive population. The pink to lavender or orchid, pea-like flowers cluster densely in the showy heads 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. A regular member of of lithosol communities in eastern WA and adjacent OR and ID, large-headed clover extends southward into NV and upward into similar habitats in ponderosa pine forests. It flowers in the early spring.
Resource: Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary, by Ronald J. Taylor
This informative guide can also be found on CSR’s bookshelf.
Filed under: Native Focus | Tagged: education, native plants | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 17, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
Soil compaction is the movement of soil particles, including sand, silt and clay, closer together. This is caused by external forces, such as traffic driving off road in muddy/wet conditions, or even our own footfalls. Even a falling raindrop causes a little soil compaction. As the soil is compacted, it becomes denser and its air pockets become smaller. It is less able to capture water, therefore increasing runoff during rain events and making plants work harder to develop their roots.
Although some soil compaction is natural, you can often see the effects of excessive soil compaction on plants. They will be smaller and weaker, lagging behind others that are unaffected, because more of their energy is required for root growth than normal. They may flower sparsely or not at all and be slightly off-color – an unhealthy shade. Less healthy fruit (aka seed!) will form. During high heat events, plants in areas of soil compaction tend to wilt sooner as they struggle in general for water uptake.
To repair and reduce surface soil compaction in a large area, restoration contractors often “rip” the soil by dragging a heavy piece of chain or fence over the area using a tractor. The weight of the chain breaks the crust of the compacted soil (the pan), increasing the soil’s potential for water absorption. More intensive ripping, using a deep blade or shank, is utilized for deeply compacted soils. Once the ripping is completed, it is key to minimize future traffic on the site that may cause re-compaction.
Also key is the installation of native seed after de-compaction. When the seeds germinate they root into the ground, breaking the pan up further. As the plants’ root systems mature they provide routes for water to travel from the surface. As the plants die and their organic matter decomposes into the soil, it helps promote stable soil structures.
Soil compaction can be averted by careful and conscious land management practices, both in wild and agricultural settings. By staying on designated roads and trails, planting native plants, and reducing over-tilling and other practices that destroy soil structure, we can minimize adverse soil compaction.
Filed under: Biology, education | Tagged: soil | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 16, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was designated as the official state insect of Idaho in 1992. Both the caterpillar and adult Monarch butterfly are brilliant in color as a warning to predators – the Monarch ingests toxins from the milkweed plant which are poisonous.
Filed under: education | Tagged: monarch butterfly | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 15, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
The CSR Biology manager, Zenyth, was in the classroom this past month speaking to a 4th grade class in Filer, ID. Big questions were asked such as, “What is native?” and “What is a weed?”. Zenyth shared the story of a rose being a weed in a cornfield and that a weed is a plant growing in an unwanted place. Discussion also centered around Lewis and Clark’s expedition and their botanical survey. The kids had a particular affinity for Seaman, Lewis’s dog on the expedition.
Filed under: Biology, education | Tagged: education | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 12, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
Invasive Focus: Russian Olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia, is a deciduous tree or shrub growing to 35 ft. in height. Russian olive is easily recognized by the silvery, scaly underside of the leaves and slightly thorny stems. Leaves are alternate and 1/2 in. wide. Small, yellowish flowers or hard green to yellow fruits are abundant and occur on clusters near the stems in the spring and summer. Russian olive invades old fields, woodland edges, riparian zones and other disturbed areas. It can form a dense shrub layer which displaces native species and closes open areas. Russian olive is native to Europe and western Asia and was introduced into North America in the late 1800s.
Filed under: Invasive Focus | Tagged: invasive species, Russian Olive | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 11, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
Conservation Seeding & Restoration Inc has the privilege of employing many talented people, in and out of the office. As such, Team SageGrouse was formed. If you have never checked out the CSR sponsored teams, please click on over to the Team SageGrouse Blog and do so. We have a lot of fun together!
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Posted on November 10, 2010 by Conservation Seeding & Restoration INC
Native Focus: Elymus elymoides, Bottlebrush Squirreltail Grass, is a perennial grass with tufted grey/green rough leaves. Clusters of seed with long awns in purplish dense spikes when young, opening to dry plumes in shape of bottlebrush when mature. Elymus elymoides like dry to moist open sites, often rocky, and can grow at a wide variety of elevations. Available from the CSR Nursery.
Filed under: Native Focus | Tagged: native plants | Leave a Comment »