Checking In on My Soil Remediation Experiment

Last month I set up a soil remediation experiment in northwestern Pennsylvania. When I wrote about setting the experiment up I mentioned going to Spartansburg. The nursery that is hosting the experiment has a main office in Spartansburg, but the actual experiment site is in neighboring Centerville (which is in Rome Township).

So I went to Rome today.

My experiment site in Rome.

The drive was nice; it was a beautiful morning. My drive took me through a little town called Pleasantville, which happened to be having a community yard sale day. It looked very festive. The song Here in Pleasantville by The Wallflowers was running through my head (the lyrics of the bright little song are dark: “Something’s gone so terribly wrong here in Pleasantville”, which is funny in hindsight, since the community yard sale would be rudely interrupted by an intense rain storm in a few hours).

I arrived at the site in the late morning and went through the observation and data collection process.

"So how are you feeling?"

When I set up my camera to take the picture that appears above I started to wonder if I could get from my camera to the weather station behind me before the autotimer went off. So I tried it.

Mission accomplished.

Some of my firs showed signs of stress. Unfortunately the stress is distributed evenly across the field and across the species, so it doesn’t help me. I think most of it is due to high temperatures and insufficient soil water content last week. Many Nordmann firs had necrosis that reminds me of frost damage, but I don’t think it got cold enough for frost in the past month (the weather station data supported this at a glance, I need to check it more closely).

A healthy Nordmann fir.

A Nordmann fir with necrotic tips.

I learned something during this trip. If you have a weather station that is closed in a case with screws, and you want to open that case at a remote field site, you should bring a screwdriver. D’oh! It took me too long to remove the screws, using improvised implements of screwdrivery.

As I completed the data collection and observations it was early afternoon, and a storm was brewing. The sun vanished. The temperature dropped. The clouds were very, very strange looking. They looked fake, like they were sprayed on the sky with an airbrush. One massive cloud split in two in about a minute, in a fashion I have never seen before.

The big cloud with airbrushed textures.

About 30 seconds later.

After another 30 seconds. Heavy rain would start in 1 minute.

As the cloud pulled apart rapidly the wind got very strong. I loaded up the van and jumped in several seconds before the rain started. It was a rain that resulted in flash-flooding. I had to shut the gate at the field, which took less than a minute, and I looked like I had jumped in a lake by the time I got back into the van. The unpaved road upon which I was driving a Ford looked like a fjord. Thankfully I drove out of the storm in about an hour.

By late afternoon I arrived home. Data collected. I’ll be back in four weeks.


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