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McNair Scholar 2015Aaryn J. Wilson

Aaryn J. Wilson is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, majoring in plant science with a minor in sustainability studies. His research interests revolve around organic nutrient management, creating sustainable food systems, and agricultural education. He enjoys biking, cooking, and volunteering outside of the lab.

Aaryn J. Wilson photo
My dream is to advocate for small-scale organic farmers through research and policy. I want to lead by example, reshaping minorities’ opinions about agriculture.

Research project

Evaluation of a New Test to Indicate Soil Health

Abstract: Soil respiration mediated by microbial activity is an indicator of soil health and soil organic matter content. Soil microorganisms immobilize carbon, respire inorganic carbon as carbon dioxide (CO2), and cycle nutrients. A number of tests measure microbial activity however, limitations include time and expensive equipment needed. The Solvita test can be performed rapidly, using inexpensive equipment. Few studies using Minnesota soil have compared Solvita against conventional tests. We found that results from both Solvita and Organic Matter Loss on Ignition tests are related and that Solvita readings were correlated with organic matter content in a Minnesota organic farm varying in organic inputs. Solvita readings from this 2015 study were higher and showed consistency between samples in comparison to those from a study performed in 2014 that used a different method of rewetting dried soil. Lastly, additional studies are needed to determine whether the amount of CO2 respired by microbes relates to potential nitrogen mineralization. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Carl J. Rosen is Head of the Department of Soil, Water and Climate at the University of Minnesota. Rosen received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 1983. His research focuses on crop nutrient management and water quality issues related to fertilizer use. Rosen has refereed 105 peer-reviewed papers and multiple extension publications. Dr. Rosen is a member of several professional associations and has received four awards for excellence in education and service. Currently, he serves on the editorial board of the journal Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis.