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In the past, prairies were a vast ecosystem within the United States. The majority this past ecosystem has been converted by humans to agricultural or residential land. Prairie restorations are established with the goals of restoring the plant communities and aboveground biodiversity found in native prairies. Recently microbial restorations have started to gain popularity as well, in an effort to improve soil health and carbon storage. Previous studies have looked at the effects of biochar addition as well as remnant soil but have only looked at certain soil types and have also not combined the two treatments. In this study, we established plots in a prairie strip restoration along the edge of an agricultural field. We applied additions of biochar, remnant soil, and a combination of the two in order to observe the effects of treatments on soil and microbial properties over two years following treatment application. Certain areas of the prairie strip had some different properties from other areas of the strip, so we used a blocked statistical design to assess for treatment effects. No physiochemical properties differed significantly among the different treatments of soil or the control, or over time. Additionally, treatments did not affect bacterial community composition. We observed inter-annual changes in most measurements. These could be explained by different weather patterns each year, especially rain, as well as different crops in the field neighboring the strip. Our results are not consistent with previous studies as it has been seen that inoculation with remnant soil can cause selection of mid to late successional plants.
Evans, Jacob, "Effects of Biochar and Remnant Soil as Additives in Prairie Restoration" (2020). Honors Theses. 3250.
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