Solution Center for Nutrient Management
Solution Center for Nutrient Management
Solution Center for Nutrient Management
University of California
Solution Center for Nutrient Management

Solution Center Blog

Challenges of Measuring Soil Biological Activity

mineralization test results graph

Summary The concept of soil health brings soil chemical, physical, and biological traits together under a unifying framework. For more background information on the soil health paradigm, see our Focus Topic here ( To adapt to this new paradigm, new metrics must be developed and refined to better communicate changes in soil health. While we have many robust measurements for soil physical and chemical...

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 5:51 PM
  • Author: Jordon Wade

Webinar: Preview of California's New Healthy Soils Incentive Program

 In June, the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) will release a call for grant proposals from farmers and ranchers to fund management practices that improve soil health. CDFA will provide almost $4 million in grants for practices such as mulch and compost addition, conservation plantings, cover cropping, reduced tillage, and more, and another $3 million for demonstration projects. The funding comes from the state's cap-and-trade program and must be invested in...

Posted on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 3:57 PM
  • Author: Aubrey Thompson

Alfalfa Nitrous Oxide Emissions and Subsurface Drip Irrigation

Alfalfa has been grown in California for over 150 years (image used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Alfalfa has a long and storied history in California agriculture. First introduced in the state during the gold rush of 1849-1850, California now leads the nation in alfalfa production. Between 2013-2015, an average of 815,000 acres of alfalfa were harvested in the state. Statewide alfalfa yields increased to 5,451,000 tons in 2015 and California now accounts for over 9% of total U.S. production.  Alfalfa serves as an important source of hay while also proving useful as a ‘green...

Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 1:43 PM
  • Author: Yoni Cooperman

Biochar and Carbon Sequestration

Achieving carbon sequestration by building soil organic matter requires that carbon input rates (green arrows) exceed microbial decomposition of organic matter. Carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmoshpere during plant photosynthesis (purple arrow). This carbon can enter the soil via plant roots, or when plant residues are added to the soil. Soil amendments containing carbon, such as compost or biochar, can also serve as carbon inputs.ition (red arrow).

Sequestering Carbon in the Soil Using Biochar Soils store three times more carbon than exists in the atmosphere. Plants absorb atmospheric carbon during photosynthesis, so the return of plant residues into the soil contributing to soil carbon. While much of this carbon ultimately returns to the atmosphere as soil microbes decompose carbon based plant biomass and release carbon dioxide, soil carbon stores can increase if the rate of carbon inputs exceeds the rate of microbial decomposition....

Posted on Friday, September 30, 2016 at 12:12 PM
  • Author: Yoni Cooperman

Biochar and Nutrient Management

A diverse array of biochars are available (photo credit Sanjai Parikh)

In the on-going quest to develop sustainable agricultural practices, growers are looking for new and inventive technologies. In this blog post, we'll focus on biochar, one such technology that has been a focus of intense research in recent years. Biochar is produced by burning organic material at extreme temperatures as high as 1600° F with little to no oxygen available. Oftentimes biochar is a by-product of energy production, but it can also be produced solely to be used as a soil...

Posted on Monday, September 19, 2016 at 12:49 PM
  • Author: Yoni Cooperman
  • Contributor: Deirdre Griffin
Tags: biochar (2)

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