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David Sparks Ph.d Can switch grass reverse erosion
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: July 20, 2018

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According to a study from the University of Missouri the loss of topsoil from fields is an economic problem for modern farmers. Now, a study has found that switchgrass improves soil quality and can be grown on farms that have lost fertile topsoil. Dr. Stephen Anderson, at MU, says that switchgrass may be a good option for farmers who have challenges with growing other crops.

For their study, Anderson and lead author Syaharudin Zaibon, a doctoral candidate at MU, examined farming plots with varying levels of topsoil, which were established in 2009. Each plot had varying amounts of topsoil ranging from extra topsoil to no topsoil. Corn, soybeans and switchgrass were grown on each plot, and after five years, the researchers examined the soil density and water permeability of each plot. They found that the switchgrass had improved the soil quality of the plots with little or no topsoil on which it grew.

We found that over a number of years, the switchgrass was able to increase, or improve, the water permeability into this eroded soil, leading to an 11 percent higher water saturation than the areas where corn and soybeans were grown.

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