Impact of soil carbon amendments on soil nitrogen, biomass production and vegetative composition in the Biocore Prairie – Deena Weiss

(L&S Honors Sophomore Honors Research Apprenticeship recipients)

A major obstacle faced by the Biocore Prairie restoration on the UW-Madison campus is high soil nitrogen, encouraging the growth of nitrophilic weeds over native prairie species. We investigated a weed control technique called ‘reverse fertilization’ to immobilize nitrogen following soil amendment with sawdust and ground corn stubble. Our results revealed changes in vegetation composition, soil nitrogen, and biomass production three years following the initial treatment. Although prairie plant frequency and biomass increased over time, no significant treatment effects were detected between sawdust and corn stubble treated plots and controls. Furthermore, significant differences in soil nitrogen were detected between treatment groups, but not over time. This research may provide valuable insight regarding the utility of this technique in prairie restorations with high soil nitrogen.