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Tea Decomposition for Low-Cost, Scientifically Robust Soil Health
Iowa Ag Connection - 08/10/2018

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar exploring the decomposition of tea as a low-cost, scientifically-robust soil health indicator on Aug. 15 at 12 p.m.

The term soil health recently has become popular due, in large part, to the increased awareness of the importance of soil biology. However, current biological soil health tests are expensive, highly variable and difficult to interpret. Marshall McDaniel, assistant professor in soil-plant interactions at Iowa State University, studies the relationship between soils and plants, and how this relationship is affected by management and the environment. The McDaniel Research Group's ultimate goal is to understand what enhances soil-plant synergy, soil health and agroecosystem sustainability. One thrust of the research is using decomposition of tea bags as an inexpensive, yet scientifically-robust, indicator of soil health.

"Increasing soil health is not only good for the environment, but also for the bottom line through increased yields and decreased money spent on farm inputs," commented McDaniel. "Citizen Science is a great way to educate and engage farmers in measuring their own soil health, and also help to inform professional scientists' understanding of soil health."

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar series takes place on the third Wednesday of the month. To watch, go to www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars and click the link to join the webinar shortly before 12 p.m. on Aug. 15 to download the Zoom software and log in option. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for watching at any time at https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319).

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