Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Questions from Our Assignment

What is this project’s direct connection to soil?

This project directly relates to soil because is all about how we can manage soil in a responsible manor to get the food we need from it while insuring that it will be around for a long time.  We need to start thinking about how our everyday decisions are going to affect soil quality in the future.

How does soil make this project work?

This project was centered on weeding pant beds so that they will be ready for planting in the spring.  Soil makes this project work by providing a four dimensional living habitat for the plants to grow in.  Doing this by hand, instead of with heavy machinery protects the structure of the soil allowing for a more sustainable cycle of growing and harvesting. 

Is there a way that soil management changes could improve this project?

Soil management is at the hart of this project so it is already an integral part of the project.  However, developing better ways to protect the structure of the soil and the organisms living in it is always a continuing challenge.  The goal of soil management is always to leave the soil as healthy as is way before being managed and we have a long way to go.

From this project, what did you learn about soils that you did not know before?

While doing this project our group learned a lot about what organic farming was all about.  It’s not just abstaining from using chemicals and artificial fertilizers.  It also involves looking at the big picture.  It’s about using the incredibly complex and diverse nature ecosystem to aid you in your crop development.  In the end, the goal is not to kill all the bad things, its to grow and develop all of the good things whether those thing are the one that you will eventually harvest or not.

What is the broader impact of the organization or project you helped with?

The broader impact of this project is the education of all those that were involved with it.  Everyone that helped out on the farm that day will take with they valuable lessons and information that will help them make more informed decisions later on.  Whether those decisions involve choosing to buy better produce at a local market or even choosing to start a new organic farm, everyone can continue their lives with a new insight.


This is a picture of a plant that was found around the area that we were working in.We are unsure of what type of plant this is, but we do know that I can be harmful to the crops that are going into the beds that we prepared. This plant would fight for nutrients in the soil, and that can lead to the crops having less nutrients.

Preparing beds for planting!

Diggin' soil :) Here, we are tilling up the soil. With this hand method, although it's more time consuming compared to major food industry crop farms having machines "till" the soil, our method has a lower possibility of compaction occurring with soils. This is important because once a soil becomes compacted, there is minimal (if any) water movement, no ion exchange going on for nutrients between plants, and you end up with a non-diverse soil that has little chance of survival, which is not good for our economy since we always need food readily available! Also, tilling up soil by hand gives us an opportunity to get rid of invasive species that affect soil health, like the notorious Quackgrass.


While roots can grow really deep into soil, there are some limitations that are minimal; this is because roots have a symbiotic relationship (meaning both benefit each other) with mycorrhizae that increase the surface area for roots to reach water, and also interact with fungi that can benefit plant health as well.


Organic Farms use natural methods to preserve soils that are available for our use: Soil truly is what drives the World. Without it, we wouldn't be able to grow nutritious foods that people need to survive, and beautiful flowers that we love to smell! This is why we need to come together to save our soil from destruction, because when soil is gone, we are gone.

Upper Soil Pit

This is a picture was taken in the upper soil pit at the organic farm. James was showing us the different horizons that are within this pit. Although its hard to tell in this picture, this pit shows how the soil in this area was made from continual flooding events. These floods occurred over many years, and after each event, sediment was left on top of the area and this accounts for the different horizons.

Worms Everywhere!

Worms! While worms are small, they play such a big role in the health of soils and plants alike. Worms help recycle, create fine aggregates, and also create paths that not only they move through, but also helps channel water throughout the soil and provide many nutrients all around! The more worms you have in your soil, the more beneficial it will be. Organic farming incorporates a diverse habitat including worms to grow nutritious crops for human consumption.

Soil Pit Fun!

We are having a blast learning about the two different soil pits that were at the organic farm!

Healthy Soil!

Healthy Soil has many important management goals that must be achieved:
-High Amount of Macropores (big pores)
-Stable Aggregate
-Low Bulk Density
Aggregation in soil is key to determining how easily water moves through soils. Aggregates contain lots of macropores which allows for water to move more freely through soil, making nutrients more readily available for plants to absorb.

Spider in the Soil!

Spider!! While scary to some people, spiders and other organisms are vital to expressing how healthy a soil is for its intended purpose, and help contribute to soil diversity.

Native Plants!

This sample was taken from the organic hedge row. Aside from showing off a few awesome native plants, this row serves to shelter the strawberries that will be planted in the organic farm soon. The hedge row also acts as a food source for bugs that help pollinate the strawberries that are next to the row. They also attract native species of bugs that help maintain plant health. Without this hedge row, the bugs would go somewhere else and it can be bad for the plants in the area.


This invasive grass is called quack grass (Elymus repens). It is native to Europe, Asia, Arctic biome and Northern Africa. It was brought to North America for uses in forages and erosion control. This invasive grass forms nodules that can form new plants if broken. This adaptation allows this weed to recover quickly after being plowed. The best was to remove this is by pulling this by hand to ensure that you get the whole entire root. This is what the root of the grass looks like, since it is very long it competes for the nutrients that is needed for the produce that will be planted in the area. Our group pulled this grass out of two different plant beds.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Organic Soil versus Conventional Farming Practices Soil

In the picture above you will notice the different soils.  The soil on the left was taken from the Organic Farm, while the soil on the right was taken from the conventionally tilled field next to it.  The soil on the left is a lot darker, which means it is higher in Organic Matter.  It also has more pores in it.  The Organic Farm soil on the left is definitely more ideal.

OSU Organic Grower's Club!

The OSU Organic Growers Club offers a wide variety of experience for all University students to enjoy! Many events are held and also tons of volunteers come out and help manage the Organic farm, learn more about Organic farming methods versus conventional, but most importantly gain more knowledge about soil and why it's so important for us! Here is a link to the OSU Organic Growers Club: /organic_grower. You can find out more information about the club and any events that they have going on!                                                                   Description by Allee Chadek

Soil Map!

This is a Soil Map that shows what type of soil is found in the area. For this area the soil is classified as Chehalis Silty Clay Loam with the taxonomic name of Fine-Silty, mixed, super active, mesic cumuli cultic Haploxerolls. The parent material for this soil is recent moderately fine textured alluvium derived from mixing sources. This soil is common for the area, because it used to be a river, and over time sediments built up to form the soil that is in the area now.
Description by Alexandria Snider

Welcome to our blog!

Our group is here to inform you about soil and how important it is for our survival! Soil is not to be taken lightly, and we have so much to tell you about it and the key features that makes Organic farming so different from conventional farming of crops.

Only 10% of the World's land area is suitable for growing crops. One hectare of land is lost every 7.67 seconds. With us losing land so quickly, other ways of managing land must be looked at. With the World population increasing by five people each second, the demand for suitable land to grow food on in this tight economy is becoming even higher. While conventional farming is a more "realistic" way of keeping up with our demand, we are destroying a lot of things at the same time.

The use of machines compacts soil which limits the amount of water that can get into the soil and be used to transfer nutrients between plants and soil. When an environment is not diverse, it also makes it inhabitable for important organisms like Earthworms, etc that are also essential for optimal soil health. Without organisms being used in varying processes that keep soil healthy, the soil isn't being used properly to get what we want out of it.

Organic farming uses an array of different methods that keeps everything balanced between soil and the atmosphere. Things like rotating crops in different sections of soil helps keep disease at bay by bringing in different kinds of plants that have their own way of fighting off disease; this important method keeps soil healthy and allows us to use the soil longer for crop production.

Another thing that makes Organic farming different from conventional farming is how labor-intensive it can be; you need lots of hands to keep an Organic farm going! While this may seem like a disadvantage, it's also a good and effective way of transferring information between individuals; very few people have knowledge in soils which is very unfortunate. The more we know about how to help our soils, the more we are able to get out of them and also consider our use that can be used to help further generations survive!