Last week Lucia, Fabiano, Mark, Matti, Selma and Natalie went out in the field with a vehicle loaded with 2 shovels, a GPS, lots of plastic bags, a pen, ethanol in a spray bottle and some paper towels.
They followed a set of given coordinates to find the same exact spots visited twice last year at the beginning of the study. They visited a total of 96 points, 48 spots under thorn trees and 48 spots beside some grass or at least the bit of grass the drought has left. Sometimes a 300m walk through the bush was required to reach a point.
|sample collection points|
Once they found a spot, Selma cleaned the shovels with ethanol just for Lucia and the others to make them dirty again by digging a 20cm deep hole. The cleaning of the shovels in between the samples is important to avoid contamination. The soil was then nicely mixed up and put in a labelled plastic bag. The same procedure for the next spot, and the next spot, and the next… For 2 days they were digging holes in the hard ground which took a lot of effort on some spots where the soil was particularly compacted.
|sanitising the shovel|
|digging the hole|
But what’s the point?
In 2012 CCF started collaborating with Dr. Jeffrey Buyer, a research scientist from the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory that is part of the United States Department of Agriculture. The aim of the study is to determine how flora in the soil is affected by bush encroachment. This study complements CCF’s research on the biodiversity of fauna and flora in areas affected by bush encroachment. As part of the soil flora collaboration, soil samples are collected from open as well as bush encroached areas here at CCF. In addition samples were collected from areas in which CCF’s Bushblok harvested the bush to open up habitat and produce the eco-friendly fuel log (for more information on Bushblok see www.bushblok.com) so that the flora and it’s ecology from the two different soil types can be compared.
|placing sample in bag|
The results of this study have not yet been analysed, but we will keep you posted when we learn more.