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Soil carbon sequestration in reforested sites in the RGV

More than two-thirds of terrestrial carbon is stored in the soil, yet regions of arid and semi-arid climates typically have soils with a low percentage of organic matter (0.2% to 0.5%). An increase in soil carbon not only represents sequestration of atmospheric CO2 for climate change mitigation, but also an enhancement of ecosystem services such as nutrient retention, plant growth, and habitat restoration for wildlife. 

Funding from Land Life Company and The Nature Conservancy.

Collaborators: Dr. Brad Christofferson, Dr. Alejandro Fierro, Fish & Wildlife Service.

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Spatial distribution of soil microbial diversity and nutrients

To further the understanding of variable soil process rates as a function of the inherent and dynamic soil properties, we are mapping the nutrient distribution and, using Next Generation Sequencing, the soil bacteria composition across scales and soil habitats. 

Funding from the UTRGV College of Science Seed Grant.

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Sweet Potato as a summer crop for soil soil health 

The high nutritional value of sweet potato and its capacity to thrive under a South Texas summer presents opportunity to augment grower earnings and diversify Texas’ specialty crop offerings. Here, we engage students and farmers to tailor crop and soil management towards maximum efficiency and sustainability. Our initial findings reveal that sweet potato cultivation promoted soil biological activities and the maintenance of nutrient cycling, compared to bare-fallow conditions.

Aloe Vera Plant

Soil and water quality on the cultivation of Aloe Vera.

Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. is a versatile plant used extensively in many industries, making the plant very high in-demand and profitable. Aloe Vera thrives in climates characterized by high heat and little rainfall, making the RGV an ideal location for its growth. The growth of Aloe in our region has the potential to supplement farmer income and provide residents a steady, fresh supply of the plant for therapeutic use. This project will identify innovative methods of sustainably increasing Aloe Production in our region while simultaneously improving soil health and maximizing resource use efficiency. Potential methods include various organic fertilization practices and Magnetically Treated Water.  

This project is led by M.Sc. student Isaiah Jaramillo and Env. Sci student, Angel Salinas. 

Collaborators: Aloe Labs from Harlingen, TX and Drs. Cheng and Kang

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