The Soil Remediation Experiment Continues

Last Friday I visited my soil remediation experiment site in Centreville. I arrived in the morning, and the field showed signs of recent rainfall. Wary of poor driving conditions, and dubious of the capabilities of the Ford Ranger I was driving to handle mud, I hopped out and surveyed the field before driving into it. It looked a bit wet, but I decided it was going to be okay.

The site on Friday morning.

The tire tracks in the right side of the picture above are the path I followed. Everything was fine until I hit the Bog of Doom, a stretch of the path that had standing water on it upon closer examination.

The Bog of Doom up close.

Woe to any vehicle that ventures into the Bog of Doom! The truck became very, very stuck. It took 45 minutes of work (and potentially the assistance of an angel or two) to free the truck. I learned from this mistake; I left the truck at the field entrance and walked to my fir experiment site.

Once there I downloaded the data from my weather station. This gave me all sorts of numbers to look at and play with.

Rain events between June and October at the field site.

The trees are responding to the soil treatments more dramatically than I anticipated. It is now very evident that Fraser firs on ridges are happier than those that are not.

A Fraser fir on a ridge.

A Fraser fir that is not on a ridge.

I’ve observed variation in the Canaan firs in the experiment. The species is known to show considerable variation, so this is not very surprising. Plants in the same soil treatment have different sizes, shapes, and colors. Here are two plants in the ridged and drained soil:

A Canaan fir looking a bit sickly.

A Canaan fir looking healthy and blue-ish.

I’m rather happy with the performance of the firs. It’s a shame the design of the experiment is not better for statistical analysis, but that’s just the way it had to be. Next month I intend to collect more data during my visit, including height measurements and root samples from departed firs. Even if I need to be cautious of drawing any conclusions from this experiment, it does present a practical and messy example of soil remediation comparisons. If nothing else it can serve as a pilot study and a “hey look, this is interesting” type of article or presentation.

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