Grant to improve health of Great Lakes basin

Great Lakes restoration project to study large-scale attempts to understand soil health parameters with edge-of-field water quality monitoring.

Ron Turco, professor of agronomy at Purdue, will research the relationship between soil health and its impact on water quality for the improvement of health in the Great Lakes basin. Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell.

The department of agronomy at Purdue University has received a $225,000 grant for one of the first large-scale attempts to directly link in-field soil health parameters with intensive edge-of-field water quality monitoring across the Great Lakes basin.

“The boundary between soil and edge-of-field water is challenging but an important area of work. This effort is designed to understand how the soil’s health impacts the retention or release of major plant nutrients such as nitrogen or phosphorus,” said Ron Turco, professor of agronomy.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative awarded the funding as part of a $508,000 grant to improve the health of the Great Lakes basin.

Turco and soil microbiologist Marianne Bischoff Gray will partner with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to evaluate the important connection between soil health and farm management practices and their effects on water quality.

Purdue’s role in the four-year study will focus on soil biology and how microbial processes impact soil nutrient release.

Site selections and regional contacts with farmers will be coordinated within Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and New York to assess long-term ecosystem responses.

“This scientific research will provide direct management recommendations and education to support good stewardship of the nation’s most significant water resources and forests,” Turco said.

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