Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

Want to make your barren yard lush again? Just add a bit of soil from your local meadow. A new study reveals that the addition of foreign soil—and more importantly, the organisms it contains—can shape which plants will grow in the future. Such “inoculations” could even help bring back fallow farmlands and turn deserts green.”This is a really cool and remarkable study,” says Harsh Bais, a root biologist at the University of Delaware, Newark, who was not involved in the work. “Dirt matters.”Soil isn’t as simple as it seems. It contains microscopic bacteria and fungi, as well as tiny worms called nematodes and other invertebrates. Ecologists have long known that these underground communities build critical partnerships with the plants growing nearby. But many of these partnerships remain a mystery. Small-scale studies in greenhouses have shown that adding the right soil can promote the growth of a particular plant community, and some researchers have even tried soil transplantation—replacing one soil with another—to get certain endangered plants to grow.Such need is great across the globe, where many once-fertile lands are turning into desert, and a significant amount of agricultural land is lost every year. What’s more, when governments and nonprofit organizations try to bring back grasslands, forests, and other ecosystems destroyed by agriculture and other human uses, they are often disappointed: Restoration can take decades. It sometimes fails altogether.E. R. Jasper Wubs, an ecologist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen, hoped to find a better way. But instead of doing wholesale transplantation of soil—which can be expensive—he wanted to see what would happen with a booster shot.He and colleagues set up a series of 2- to 5-hectare plots on abandoned, degraded farmland in the Netherlands. They removed about 60 centimeters of top soil from part of each plot and spread a 1-centimeter-thick layer of soil in others. The soil was taken from either a heathland—rolling hills dominated by heather and small shrubs—or a grassland. They then added seeds from 30 plant species from a variety of habitats and waited—for 6 years.When their waiting was up, they compared the seeded areas with and without the added soil layers, looking at which species were thriving and which were not. The source of the added soil greatly influenced what grew where, they report today in Nature Plants. Plots with heathland soil were covered with heather and gorse, whereas plots with grasslands soil were overflowing with a variety of grasses. The added soil made the existing land richer—as the researchers found more nematode worms, more bacteria, and more fungi in those sections of the plots. Those with heathland soil also had a greater diversity of springtails and mites.

Source: Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green | Science | AAAS

Can you go 5 minutes without touching your phone in order to help fund clean water? : TreeHugger

Even if we can’t commit to an entire day of unplugging, surely we can all give up 5 minutes. I know that’s a stretch, but if you can manage the discomfort, Giorgio Armani and S’well will provide the funding equivalent of one day of clean water for a child for the UNICEF Tap Project.Two years ago, we told you that if you could go 10 minutes without touching your phone, Giorgio Armani would fund a day of water for a child in need, and it was an unpredictably popular article, but 10 minutes must have been too long, because this year, the bar has been lowered to just 5 minutes. The UNICEF Tap Project has actually been operating for the past ten years as a way to help alleviate water poverty, although perhaps it takes a silly blog post title and a name brand such as Armani to get our attention.Just to put this in context, most of us with smartphones will never have to go thirsty for very long, nor will our lives be threatened by water and sanitation issues, and we can ‘reach out and touch someone’ almost anywhere in the world, anytime we want, through our magical minicomputers that we call phones. And yet, in 2016, about 1000 children younger than 5 years old will die every day from lack of clean water and hygienic sanitation facilities, coupled with lack of adequate healthcare.

Source: Can you go 5 minutes without touching your phone in order to help fund clean water? : TreeHugger

As California Faces Mandatory Water Use Reductions How Will the Construction Industry be Impacted? | Garret Murai | LinkedIn

via As California Faces Mandatory Water Use Reductions How Will the Construction Industry be Impacted? | Garret Murai | LinkedIn.

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https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/california-faces-mandatory-water-use-reductions-how-industry-murai