Happy hunting

Finding ‘daddy’s little mushrooms’ has become one of the favourite activities of our oldest

I spent a happy, sunny, warm autumn Saturday on the farm with my oldest. The goal? Finding back the microclimate sensors we installed there together in early spring, and taking soil samples for soil microbial analysis. And learning about farm life, of course!

Taking a soil sample at the sensor location. Samples will be sent to ‘BiomeMakers’ in Spain, a company analyzing agricultural soils for their microbial diversity with which we partnered up

The fieldwork is part of our ‘CurieuzeNeuzen’ citizen science project, for which we also installed 500 sensors in potato fields and other farmlands all across Flanders. Goal is to see the spatial variability in microclimatic conditions across farmlands, and link these to the growth of the potato plants and the health of the soil.

This doesn’t look much like a potato field, but they are there – belowground! The diversity of plants (weeds, so you want) is the result of the organic farm methods used here.

We are participating with our community farm, where we weekly get our own vegetables. Across the farm, we installed ten sensors. The farm is small-scale and organic, so it will be especially interesting to compare with large-scale more industrial potato production we cover elsewhere.

The soil on the farm was beaming with life, perhaps thanks to the organic farming? We’ll take a look at the microbial communities and see if an organic footprint can be found back. In any case: plenty of little crawlers and creepers to show to the kid!

With that, another great day spend in nature, combining curiosity with science!

Searching sensors in a dense field of yacón
Microclimate in action: this tire is really warm, daddy!
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