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Is mulch a no brainer (trick question)  RSS feed

 
Cj Sloane
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So I just participated in a webinar called Short Rotation Woody Crops for Phytoremediation Applications. Basically it was a presentation on a study using trees on degraded land to heal the land or help with waste water. Various species planted in rows and I stiffled the question "why not plant the trees in swales for better growth?" Probably a good move due to the reaction to the question I did pose.

One of the biggest challenges they faced was competition from grasses hindering tree growth. They had limited success using herbcides (argggghhh) and the moderator asked if they were working on roundup ready trees (double argggghhh). So, I finally asked, "why didn't you just use mulch?" the answer from the PHD - "huh, it didn't really occur to me. I guess you could do that."

Wow! There are soooooo many brains to infect it's scary!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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CJ - Thank you SO MUCH for asking the question! I know I've often attended symposia put on by professors or grad students from our University's School of Sustainability. It is quite shocking to me sometimes on what "common knowledge" stuff to me is completely new to many of those folks. A very kind and big-hearted grad student actually got a rather large grant to make some raised planter boxes for installations on some of the empty lots downtown. The idea was that they would grow food for the homeless population. Thousands of dollars were spent, materials donated by a local builder and a team of volunteers built the planters all under the auspices of a well-known urban planner/architect who was also part of the School of Sustainability.

Unfortunately they failed to take into consideration our fairly brutal climate - INTENSE sunlight, extremely high temps for months and months on end and no reliable water "falling from the sky" (aka "rain"). As there was also no water hookups on these sites and no one to pay the water bill even if there was, the planters were donated to local community gardens. Most of them found the planters too deep (about 3 ft) to spend the money to fill with good soil and too expensive to water so many of these went to waste. Alas.
 
Cj Sloane
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote: Alas.


Yeah, imagine if all that money was spent on trees to feed the homeless instead of those precarious planters.

All we can do is point out the obvious when we can...

As for my PHD, he did back peddle a bit and wondered where the mulch would come from ("branches from the trees you planted" I typed!!!) and said they wouldn't want to pay to bring mulch in. Clearly they were willing to pay to bring herbicides in but I didn't argue the point. Sometimes one well place comment is better than arguing.
 
John Elliott
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When all you have is a sprayer of Roundup, everything looks like a weed.

 
John Polk
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Where to get the mulch?
Duh. Does the Highway Dept., or the Util. Companies trim/chip branches?

One must, however give grad students the benefit of doubt. They have probably spent the past 4 years reading text books that were probably written somewhere in the grain belt. Not to worry. In a few more years, the SW dessert will extend into their backyards, and they will begin 'discovering' dry land techniques for themselves. Then, they'll need to begin developing RoundUp Ready Mesquites and Seguaros. LOL Some people never learn.

 
Cj Sloane
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John Polk wrote:Where to get the mulch?
Duh. Does the Highway Dept., or the Util. Companies trim/chip branches?


Actually, they had another problem besides the grass competing with the trees. One of the sites was bordered by a pine forest that shaded out the new trees too much. They could've stacked some functions by cutting down a 10 or 20 foot swath of those pines to let in more light and of course chip up those trees for mulch.

I realize it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback but I guess it's true they don't teach much critical thinking.
 
Tina Paxton
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Cj Verde wrote:So I just participated in a webinar called Short Rotation Woody Crops for Phytoremediation Applications. Basically it was a presentation on a study using trees on degraded land to heal the land or help with waste water. Various species planted in rows and I stiffled the question "why not plant the trees in swales for better growth?" Probably a good move due to the reaction to the question I did pose.

One of the biggest challenges they faced was competition from grasses hindering tree growth. They had limited success using herbcides (argggghhh) and the moderator asked if they were working on roundup ready trees (double argggghhh). So, I finally asked, "why didn't you just use mulch?" The answer from the PHD - "huh, it didn't really occur to me. I guess you could do that."

Wow! There are soooooo many brains to infect it's scary!


Back to this -- what types of trees or bushes would one use for a well planned "short rotation wood crops for phytoremediation" project? Perhaps that isn't the right answer because that might depend on why the land is needing remediation in the first place
 
Cj Sloane
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Tina Paxton wrote:
Back to this -- what types of trees or bushes would one use for a well planned "short rotation wood crops for phytoremediation" project? Perhaps that isn't the right answer because that might depend on why the land is needing remediation in the first place


Generally Poplar and Willows. They're fast growing and sop up lots of water. I can't remember the exact remediation deal - I think post sewage treatment.

Reeds are often used as biofilters too but with the trees you can get a secondary use out of them as lumber when you harvest.
 
Dave Burton
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That is kinda surprising to me that mulch was not considered. Great job CJ!
 
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