Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Last week I took my penguin to the zoo......

A joke I was fond of as a child goes like this. A man found a penguin in the street and took it to the police station. "I've found this penguin, what should I do with it?" the man asked. "I'd take him to the zoo Sir" was the reply from the policeman and off the man went. The next day the policeman happened to see the same man in the local park with a penguin. "Hello", he said, "I though you were taking that penguin to the zoo". "I did", replied the man " and he enjoyed it so much that today I thought I'd take him to the park.".

I liked it anyway.

Anyhow, whilst we haven't taken our soil cores to the zoo we have taken them to Leeds School of Earth and Environment. We did this because the easiest way of getting rid of any bugs and beasts in our soil prior to adding earthworms and monitoring gas emissions was to freeze the soil. We needed the equivalent of about 10 domestic freezers worth of space and Leeds had this space free - they have more freezers than an electrical store!

One of the many freezers in Leeds School of Earth and Environment, temporarily full of soil

We left the cores in the freezers for a fortnight and have now returned them to York where Hongling is busy burying them again back where they came from.

Hongling putting the defrosted, fauna-free columns back in the soil. Note the white mesh on the bottom (held in place by a ring of car inner tube) to prevent beasts getting in or out of the bottom of the column.

Next week we'll monitor gas emissions from the soil to see what the emissions are like before the experiment begins and then we'll sow some grass, let it grow and then finally add the earthworms and start to find out how earthworms influence green house gas emissions from soils.

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