This week saw deep plot excavations filled with carbon-capture mineral mixes installed at Cockle Park Farm, the site of other Newcastle University long term field experiments. Each plot is topped with seeded compost and being monitored for changes in plant community as well as carbon accumulation.“This is the start of a 2 year journey – we’re pleased to have the plot trials in place for the growing season and immediately looking ahead to the next step” mused Dr Ehsan Jorat, Geotechnical Engineer, masterminding the experiment.
Each of the 14 12m3 (3x4x1m3) plots contains either a mixture or just one of the following materials - yellow sand, crushed dolerite quarry fines or crushed concrete.
But all plots are over-sown with a wildflower seed mix to try to speed up the CO2 rate of absorption while also enhancing a range of other ecosystem services: “This isn’t just cosmetic gain” says Dr Mark Goddard, the SUCCESS project’s Urban Ecologist, who helped out. “Plants are crucial for drawing CO2 from the atmosphere into the soil. For this experiment we selected a mix of grasses and wild flowers that are adapted for growing in harsh conditions such as on demolition waste and it will be very interesting to see how well they tolerate our artificial soils. If the plants perform well then it will also be good news for wildlife, such as bees and other pollinators”.
“Now it’s just add water!” Dr Ben Kolosz chipped in. “the heavens opened during the weekend and the chemical reactions should start taking effect. We want rainwater to seep into the soils so that soluble calcium reacts with CO2 to realise our carbon capture function - calcium carbonate formation.” Dr Kolosz is the Sustainability specialist in SUCCESS and was lending a hand.
SUCCESS project leader Prof David Manning described himself as delighted. “Who’d have thought that it would all have been done so quickly?!” It was a major team effort, not without some initial hitches, but achieved swiftly and efficiently. He prescribed a weekend of relaxation “the whole team who worked on the plots deserve it!” Contributors to the effort included the staff of Cockle Park Farm, Straughans - the agricultural contractors and the material suppliers.
Last modified: Tue, 28 Apr 2015 16:08:21 BST