Conservation Farming: Baseline Samples

By Claire Hinther

On July 11, Mark, Dave, and I drew water samples from the six sampling wells on the saturated buffer. We took additional samples from ¼ mile upstream, just upstream of the farthest west sampling well, just downstream of the farthest east sampling well, and the first chamber of the control structure. We have sent these samples to be tested for nitrogen and nitrate so that we can compare levels of nitrogen/nitrate in the saturated buffer to levels in the stream and tile water as it leaves the field. The samples taken from the wells were a mixture of water from the bottom of the well and the middle of the water column. To measure the height of the water column, we used a simple measurement taken with a measuring tape and an indicator called Kolor Kut, which turns bright red when submerged in water. In the next two weeks, we will dig at least three more wells in the western transect so that we can track nitrogen abatement as water moves through the buffer and between the wells.

  Figure 1: Diagram comparing the heights of the water columns in the piezometers and the sampling wells

 

Figure 1: Diagram comparing the heights of the water columns in the piezometers and the sampling wells

Figure 2: Labeling vials before collecting water samples

Figure 2: Labeling vials before collecting water samples

Work has also continued on the additional vegetation to be introduced into the buffer. Some buckthorn trees and excess brush were cleared from the south stream bank in order to reduce shade and provide better habitat for the oak, cottonwood, and elm trees. The trees should be in place within the next two weeks so that they can begin establishing their root systems. The elderberries will also be planted soon (with some replacements for those that did not survive in the pots). We plan to plant the hazel trees in the fall to give them more time to establish themselves in their potted environments.