Dan Willett

Net Primary Productivity and Carbon Sequestration of Amendment-Treated California Grassland Soils

Soil biogeochemistry has become a field of great interest in the fight against climate change. As Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon reservoir, soils have a huge potential to absorb and store atmospheric carbon dioxide, if managed properly. This project expands upon this premise, investigating how various amendment applications such as compost, ground rock, and biochar impact carbon dynamics within California grassland soils.

To determine the impacts of these amendments, soil samples taken from amended and unamended plots at the Sierra Foothills Research Center will be analyzed for bulk carbon content. Comparing carbon content across the different treatments will help reveal the most effective amendment for carbon sequestration. In addition to the laboratory analysis, remote-sensed vegetation indices such as NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) will be used to estimate grassland NPP (Net Primary Productivity) for each plot. This is an important metric because it reflects the amount of carbon stored in living plants. High levels of NPP on experimental plots may further reflect the success of amendments in atmospheric carbon dioxide pulldown.

Message to Sponsor

I am so grateful to the Rose Hills Foundation for supporting my research. I cannot begin to express how excited I am to fully devote my time this summer to learning and discovering new things about carbon cycling. Getting to stand up and go on campus everyday will be such a refreshing and rewarding experience, especially after this crazy year.
  • Major: Molecular Environmental Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
  • Mentor: Whendee Silver