Urban Soil Science
The Arboretum’s urban soil research is at the forefront of the rapidly growing field of urban ecosystem science. The study of soils in urban systems is relatively new compared to the study of soils in agricultural and forest systems, and can be challenging. But this research is also exciting as each new discovery has significant, practical ramifications.
We know that soil is an important component of the urban ecosystem. Soil processes are essential to our quality of life, as they link plants, water, and air. Urban soil research focuses on the connections among soils, plants, water, and the atmosphere. A particular emphasis is on the processing and storage of organic matter in urban systems.
Learn the conclusions of a newly completed study, Compaction and Remediation of Urban Dirt, August 2011, which showed that organic compost and hardwood mulch improved soil quality and tree health.
Soils contain most of the organic material created by plants. Microorganisms in soil act upon this material, recycling nutrients like nitrogen back to plants. Urban soil research thus has implications for nutrient management of landscape plants. On a broader scale, the interaction of microorganisms and organic matter has tremendous influence on the chemistry and physics of the larger systems of atmosphere, water, and soil.
The Arboretum's soils researcher is Bryant Scharenbroch.