Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Switchgrass May Mean Better Soil

Date:
July 25, 2008
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Soils with native grasses such as switchgrass have higher levels of a key soil component called glomalin than soils planted to non-native grasses.

Native grasses like switchgrass may contribute to soils with higher levels of glomalin, a glycoprotein that helps store carbon and may increase the value of the grass as a source of ethanol.
Credit: Photo by John Berdahl

Soils with native grasses such as switchgrass have higher levels of a key soil component called glomalin than soils planted to non-native grasses, according to a study by the Agricultural Research Service at two locations in Mandan, N.D.

Related Articles


Kristine Nichols, a microbiologist with the ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, conducted the study. Glomalin is a sugar-protein compound that might trigger the formation of soil. The more glomalin in a given soil, the better and less erosion-prone that soil probably is.

In 2004, Nichols collected soil from under grass plots established between 1987 and 2002. The amount of glomalin in the soil increased as the degree of interdependence between plants and the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi increased. These fungi produce glomalin and live inside plant roots and the surrounding soil. That interdependence is greatest in warm-season native grasses such as switchgrass, blue grama, big bluestem and indiangrass.

Further evidence that soils underneath native grasses are higher in glomalin came from another study on rangeland areas at Mandan and near Platte, S.D.

In an earlier study, Nichols analyzed samples from undisturbed soils with native vegetation in Maryland, Georgia and Colorado. According to her analysis, glomalin stored a large percentage of the carbon found in those soils and contributed greatly to soil fertility. On average, glomalin stored 15 percent of the soil carbon, with the highest amount—30 percent— in a Colorado soil and the lowest amount—9 percent—in a Georgia soil. These results are similar to those from other soil samples taken around the world.

The increased glomalin and underground carbon storage observed with switchgrass adds to its value as a potential source of cellulosic ethanol.

Nichols uses glomalin measurements as a quick guide to evaluate how "soil-friendly" farming or rangeland practices actually are. She originally worked with soil scientist Sara Wright, who discovered and named glomalin in 1996. Wright has since retired.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Switchgrass May Mean Better Soil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080720092205.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2008, July 25). Switchgrass May Mean Better Soil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080720092205.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Switchgrass May Mean Better Soil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080720092205.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins