Event Title

Testing the Effects of a Soil Amendment of Aged Straw and Three Mulching Treatments on the Growth of Minnesota Native Prairie Species in a Proposed On-Campus Prairie Demonstration Garden

Location

CSU Ballroom

Start Date

18-4-2016 10:00 AM

End Date

18-4-2016 11:30 AM

Student's Major

Biological Sciences

Student's College

Science, Engineering and Technology

Mentor's Name

Alison Mahoney

Mentor's Department

Biological Sciences

Mentor's College

Science, Engineering and Technology

Description

Southern Minnesota’s native biome, the tallgrass prairie, contains mostly herbaceous perennials, especially grasses, which mature slowly and die back to the ground each fall. This biomass decays slowly, creating a deep thatch that creates natural mulch, which prevents soil water loss and discourages invasion by weeds by shading the soil surface. Prairie soils are high in organic matter. Once established, prairie vegetation is tough, dense, and self- sustaining with very few weeds. At early stages, however, plants may struggle during hot dry conditions and weeds may be a problem. Mulching may protect soil and young plants from desiccation, and it may prevent weed germination. Using a straw mulch would more closely- approximate the naturally-occurring mulch of a prairie compared to woodchips that are often used by landscapers but would not be found in a prairie. I used a 2 x 3 factorial design to test the effect of adding aged straw to the soil of one of two experimental blocks prior to planting. I also tested the effects of three mulching treatments within each block: aged straw, woodchips, and bare soil. Three native prairie species were planted in each of three treatment replicates per block. I measured the heights of the plants 12 times from June to September 2015. Results show that plants within the block without the soil amendment tended to be taller, which was unexpected. Initial statistical analyses suggest mean proportional plant heights among treatments are not significantly different. This experiment was performed in a neglected area south of Ford Hall. During the course of the experiment, other prairie species were planted. Results of this experiment may help guide the establishment and care of a self- sustaining demonstration garden that will inspire people to plant prairie species around their homes. My project was funded by a Department of Biological Sciences grant.

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Apr 18th, 10:00 AM Apr 18th, 11:30 AM

Testing the Effects of a Soil Amendment of Aged Straw and Three Mulching Treatments on the Growth of Minnesota Native Prairie Species in a Proposed On-Campus Prairie Demonstration Garden

CSU Ballroom

Southern Minnesota’s native biome, the tallgrass prairie, contains mostly herbaceous perennials, especially grasses, which mature slowly and die back to the ground each fall. This biomass decays slowly, creating a deep thatch that creates natural mulch, which prevents soil water loss and discourages invasion by weeds by shading the soil surface. Prairie soils are high in organic matter. Once established, prairie vegetation is tough, dense, and self- sustaining with very few weeds. At early stages, however, plants may struggle during hot dry conditions and weeds may be a problem. Mulching may protect soil and young plants from desiccation, and it may prevent weed germination. Using a straw mulch would more closely- approximate the naturally-occurring mulch of a prairie compared to woodchips that are often used by landscapers but would not be found in a prairie. I used a 2 x 3 factorial design to test the effect of adding aged straw to the soil of one of two experimental blocks prior to planting. I also tested the effects of three mulching treatments within each block: aged straw, woodchips, and bare soil. Three native prairie species were planted in each of three treatment replicates per block. I measured the heights of the plants 12 times from June to September 2015. Results show that plants within the block without the soil amendment tended to be taller, which was unexpected. Initial statistical analyses suggest mean proportional plant heights among treatments are not significantly different. This experiment was performed in a neglected area south of Ford Hall. During the course of the experiment, other prairie species were planted. Results of this experiment may help guide the establishment and care of a self- sustaining demonstration garden that will inspire people to plant prairie species around their homes. My project was funded by a Department of Biological Sciences grant.

Recommended Citation

Theis, Addeline. "Testing the Effects of a Soil Amendment of Aged Straw and Three Mulching Treatments on the Growth of Minnesota Native Prairie Species in a Proposed On-Campus Prairie Demonstration Garden." Undergraduate Research Symposium, Mankato, MN, April 18, 2016.
http://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/urs/2016/poster-session-A/29