by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham
To start my nitrogen pollution experiments, I have to collect soil samples from every site.
I only need a small amount, so it won’t be damaging to the habitats. Each site has different levels of nitrogen pollution, so I am hoping that each soil sample with be different. Once I have collected the soil I will bring it back to my laboratory and grow heather in it for a number of months.
If all goes well, analysis of the heather plants will tell me if the soil fertility is different, depending on the nitrogen deposition from the atmosphere. Does the fertility of the soil affect the disappearance of heathland? That's what I hope to find out!
Currently I am germinating 1,050 heather seeds in the lab. I only need 250, but it is always best to overestimate the number of seeds that you think will germinate. I expect around 60-70%... we will see.
I will next update the blog after I have collected all my soil samples from across the country.