Mycoremediation of Phosphorus in Agricultural Runoff using Mycorrhizal-Plant Associations at Shelburne Farms. 2019-2022
Update as of Winter 2023: Thankfully due to the UVM Marvin Science Award for Conservation, the Champlain Basin 'Healthy Ecosystems' Grant, the Lintilhac Foundation and other grants in the works, this project is becoming long-term monitoring research. Stay tuned for our 4th peer-reviewed journal article coming out soon covering: microbial and mycorrhizal DNA, SRP, TP, Mehlich-3, Plant Species Richness & Diversity, plant P uptake, AMF extra radical hyphae, spore & root colonization, pollinator presence, increasing collaboration with Abenaki. We prepare to triple our research plots into Abenaki harvest ways, incorporate endemic mycorrhizae, and grow ecoliteracy.
This pilot project is a case study for farmers with drainage ditches, overgrown in non-native species, which funnel phosphorus (P) into the lake from tile drains, legacy upland P, and current land practices. The project investigates how restoring degraded ecosystems with polycultures can reduce P runoff through reintroducing ecosystem functions of increased water retention, filtration capacity, and trophic structures.
The research plan involves three experimental study sites: restored vegetated (RV), restored vegetated mycorrhizally inoculated (RVM), and control of untouched buckthorn (OIV). Thanks to funders NE SARE, Lintilhac Foundation and UVM College of Agriculture & Life Sciences James W. Marvin Award in Science & Conservation!! Click on the title of the project for the SARE final report 2021 or see below for more recent updates
A. Investigate whether the 3 treatments (control of original vegetation, native restoration plantings with and without mycorrhizae) within the riparian zone affect Water Extractable P, Soluble Reactive phosphorus (WEP-SRP) , Total phosphorus (TP) concentrations, & Mehlich 3-Extractable P in the soil.
Hypothesis: There is a difference in SRP-WEP, TP & Mehlich-3 P concentrations among the following treatments: SRP-WEP, TP & Mehlich 3-Extractable P, concentrations vary in soil water in this order OIV>RV>RVM.
B. Determine whether mycorrhizae result in increased P concentrations in cyclically harvested plant tissue (willow, dogwood, arrowwood, elderberry, buckthorn).
Hypothesis: P plant tissue concentrations will be greater in the restored area with mycorrhizae (RVM) than the area without mycorrhizae (RV).
E. Determine plant community diversity (composition and plant species richness) in the three plots. This is to provide a baseline of the plant community composition for future research.
F. Determine pollinator visitation populations. This is to determine how increased pollinator habitat in the restored plots affects actual numbers of pollinators present.
G. Discover how mycorrhizal populations differ in spore counts, extra radical hyphae counts, root colonization and species composition between the three plots.
Thank you to NESARE for funding support, Shelburne Farms for partnering with MycoEvolve, to VYCC for joining us in earthworks and education, to UVM Plant & Soil Sciences Department and several faculty in various other departments for supporting our learning and training, UVM Horticulture Farm for equipment lends, UVM AETL Lab for analyzing our samples, Mike Bald of Got WEEDS for mentoring us in chemical free species removal, NEGEF for supporting our collaboration with Abenaki, and to various amazing community volunteers & homeschool communities who offered crucial labor in manually removing buckthorn, putting up fences, and building the doors to our research site!
As this transitions to a long term monitoring project, we aim towards reconciliation of colonial agriculture pollution through supporting moves to rematriation of the Abenaki Peoples and to grow ecoliteracy amongst marginalized communities.
Below are pictures starting Spring 2020-spring 2022: ecological design, soil pasteurization, signs, mesocosm study, work parties: site preparation, planting, Abenaki rematriation ceremony and harvesting maps, soil pastuerization, inoculation, bare root potting, data gathering, coppicing and elderberry harvest, pollinator habitat succession, Abenaki partnerships, microscopy, saprophytic emergence, educational workshops.