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Graduate Research Assistant
I have a diverse set of interests which revolve around reducing negative environmental impacts of agricultural production. I am very interested in the mechanisms behind the successful organic fertility management programs.
I started my masters work with Dr. Dan Sullivan looking to create a custom compost for blueberry production made of animal manures by lowering the pH with sulfur products. We showed that compost pH could be adjusted to levels that are acceptable for blueberry production using powdered sulfur products but not granulated products.
For my masters thesis with Dr. David Myrold I did preliminary work to quantify the fertilizer value of algal meal, the by-product of algae oil production. This was designed to be part of the life cycle assessment of an integrated dairy-anaerobic digester-algae production system. In a laboratory incubation we were able show that the total N mineralization rate of algal meal was the same as feather meal. The corn grown with algal meal had the same yield as corn grown with both feather meal and urea. Using a fertilizer value relative to feather meal we showed that applying algal meal as a fertilizer could allow an integrated dairy-anaerobic digester-algae production system to be both environmentally advantageous and economically profitable.
I spent the last year working with Dr. Markus Kleber and Dr. Maria Dragila on the chemical and biological mechanisms that control soil water repellency. We are looking at the how the environment impacts the extracellular polymeric substances produced by the microbial community that might create hydrophobic coatings on the mineral surface causing soil water repellency.
The goal is that my path will lead to a professorship where I am able to work in an integrated team working to quantify the environmental externalities related to soil of various agricultural management practices. By quantifying gas emissions, soil erosion, salinization, biodiversity loss, etc the markets can include the externalities in the cost of production, which can work to encourage producers to adopt best managment practices and make significant changes in the environmental impacts of agriculture.
Department of Crop and Soil Science