139-15 Assessing and Managing Soil Quality for Vegetable Production In a Recently Disturbed Urban Soil In Ohio.

Poster Number 608

See more from this Division: S06 Soil & Water Management & Conservation
See more from this Session: Urban Soils: Properties, Problems and Needs: II
Monday, October 17, 2011
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Hall C
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Joshua Beniston and Rattan Lal, School of Environment and Natural Resources - The Ohio State University, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Columbus, OH
De-industrialization and migration to suburban areas have left many cities in the northern Midwest with numerous vacant properties and large areas of vacant land. Cleveland, Ohio currently has over 1,500 ha of vacant land and the city is demolishing over 1,000 vacant houses per year, while Youngstown, Ohio contains close to 20,000 vacant parcels. Concurrently, widespread interest in gardening and locally produced food has brought about great increases in the number of community gardens and small-scale market farms in urban areas. As many vacant houses are demolished, gardens are being established in their place. Soils at these sites have often undergone numerous heavy disturbances, and may be of poor overall quality.  

We have established an experimental vegetable garden on three adjacent vacant lots where houses have been deconstructed during the past year in Youngstown, OH.  The goals of the project are to: 1) Assess soil quality in a recently disturbed vacant lot soil, and 2) Determine the ability organic soil amendments to alleviate agricultural constraints and improve vegetable crop growth and soil quality in these soils.  

Experimental garden plots were established in spring 2011 in a randomized complete block design (N=24) with split plots.  Treatments include: 1) Un-amended control, 2) Leaf Compost (150 Mg ha-1), 3) Compost (150 Mg ha-1) + Biochar (20 Mg ha-1), and 4) Compost (150 Mg ha-1) + Intensive Cover Cropping (including initial summer planting of Sorghum-Sudangrass Sorghum bicolor X Sorghum bicolor var. sudanese).  The split plots compare growing crops directly in the ground with cultivation in 20 cm raised beds containing 10 cm of additional soil from the site. Plots will be evaluated for crop growth of vegetable, root and fruiting crops.  Soil quality will be evaluated by analyzing a suite of soil physical, chemical and biological properties and developing a minimum data set and soil quality index for the site, following two full growing seasons. 

Initial results suggest that soil compaction and poor soil structure resulting from demolition and grading activities are dominant constraints at this site with both in ground plots (1.79 g cm-3) and raised bed soils (1.55 g cm-3) exhibiting bulk density values indicative of heavy compaction.  Data from baseline soil properties, crop growth and soil biological assays from the 2011 growing season will be presented. 

See more from this Division: S06 Soil & Water Management & Conservation
See more from this Session: Urban Soils: Properties, Problems and Needs: II
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