Deep in the Field

With a crazy week this week and last between visiting the kids at the Ojibwe summer camp and now our first week spending time in the field, it’s been hard to find a moment to take a deep breath! On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we went down to Good Thunder to visit our field site, a wildlife preserve wetland area. Because the site is surrounded by so much agriculture (right now it’s soybeans but it can be corn too) this intensive row crop agriculture has resulted in a lot of nitrate pollution from fertilizers.

This week, I defined my research question of looking at the wetland  ecosystem in terms of sediment trapping. My methods for testing this topic are still in…preliminary stages. I put a few plates out in different locations throughout the main wetland to more or less see what happens, and I plan to actually start collecting concrete data next week when we go back. In addition to the plates, I used refrigerator brushes as mock plants, to gauge the sediment trapping potential of the submerged vegetation. I also collected total suspended sediment (TSS) [image 1] samples at the wetland inlet and outlet.


In addition to working on my own research question, Amy, Liz, and I have been working on nitrate assimilation in plant biomass (Liz’s project) [image 2] and have been setting up and running Denitrification Enzyme Activity (DEA) [images 3 and 4] in the Ecology Lab all day today. I’ll run my TSS through the filter tomorrow and we’ll do some loss on ignition (checking for organic material content of soil) and run a few more tests in the lab next week, and then we’ll be back out in the field Wednesday! Already can’t wait to put those waders back on!

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