AmericanFarm.com

UD geologist needs farms to test soil for phosphorus research

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor

NEWARK, Del. — A University of Delaware scientist who is searching for the sources of the phosphorous in the Chesapeake Bay needs a hand.
Dr. Deb Jaisi, an environmental geologist, is reaching out to farmers in the Bay watershed to permit him to take soil samples on their farms.
Working under a grant from the Maryland Soybean Board and other funding sources, he has already established that some of the phosphorous in the sediment of the Chesapeake Bay could have been there for the last 50 years.
“We have been analyzing sediments from the Bay to identify what isotope signature they have,” Jaisi wrote to The Delmarva Farmer. “Now we are in need of soil samples from the farms (as well as wetlands, woods and other landforms) from where sediment and nutrient loads have been removed and exported to the Bay.”
Farmers and landowners interested in participating can contact Jaisi at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
He explained for those farmers who would be willing to participate in the study, “we visit their farms and identify crop rotation or type of nutrient (manure or fertilizers) they apply. We take 1-3 samples from an owner's farm.”
For example, from one of the Delaware farms his team took five samples because the owner had farms that started production in the past few years and farms that had been worked for decades and “one woods that he intends to change into farmland soon.”
Jaisi pledged to protect the privacy of the farmers and the location of the farms.
“We will never give GPS location of the farm to anyone, but will plot large dots on a small map so that a dot literally covers way larger area than 10 acres,” he said. 
“We would like to know what isotope signatures of phosphorus from agricultural farms look like compared to that of geological and other sources; therefore we really don't need to locate each field,” he said.