Sustainability Topics

Bio Char: Exploring a New Soil Amendment

IMG_0285What is it? Biochar is the carbon-rich product that results when biomass such as wood, manure, or leaves are heated with little to no oxygen available – it is the solid material obtained from the carbonization of biomass. Biochar may be added to soils with the intention of improving soil nutrient content; production of biochar reduces emissions from biomass which would otherwise degrade to greenhouse gasses.

To explain this in more technical terms, biochar is produced by thermal decomposition of organic material under a limited supply of oxygen (O2), and at relatively low temperature (<700°C). This process often mirrors …

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Planting Green Roofs: Sowing Seeds

With the installation of the green roof on Lang Performing Arts Center (our fifth green roof), we experimented with a new way of planting the vegetation: sowing seeds.  A year after the install, we are enjoying the initial success of this seed germination.

Sedum plugs laid out for planting. photo credit:R. Robert

As with our past roofs, we planted sedum and other green roof plants with small plugs and by spreading cuttings.  The install was completed by applying a slurry of seed. The seed mixture was combined with pourable fiber mulch and water. This slurry of seed was  applied with …

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What are those brown patches?

Although the combined 6 ½ acres of organic lawns below Parrish Hall are thriving, you might have noticed three large brown patches in front of Mertz Dorm. These are areas where we are killing off a pernicious weed, Cynodon dactylon, aka. wiregrass, bermudagrass, couchgrass, devilgrass, or dogtooth grass. It is a perennial turfgrass grown deliberately in southern regions in lawns, golf courses, and athletic fields.

This patch of lawn has been taken over by wiregrass. photo credit: R. Robert

It is one tough plant: some improved hybrids of the species can be maintained at a height of ¼”! It …

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