Stuart and Amy visit the WCA Enviromental Learning Center

Stuart and Amy visited the West Central Area High School Environmental Learning Center on October 1st to work with Matt’s plant science class. The students helped harvest heads of echinacea purpurea that will be used in a competition study with echinacea angustifolia. Stuart also talked to students about prairies and some of the various prairie plants and then wrapped up the lesson talking about flowers and how they work. The students enjoyed the talk and had fun collecting the heads. WCA is excited to see what kind of experiments we can do in our ELC! Matt was hoping that Ali an Katherine might have been with also, but still plans on having them come and speak to his classes.IMG_0212

September 1: Death defying day of harvest!

September 1 was a day full of harvesting heads, and collecting data. Now that doesn’t sound so exciting until you are put into a small pick-up truck with a driver who is new to a manual transmission! I had the pleasure of yet again defying death while instructing two team members (you know who you are!) on how to work the clutch and make the truck go. There was a few body shaking jerks to the system and an attempt to make a new road, but I made it back alive each time, and so did all the harvested echinacea! All kidding aside though, both will be proficient gear jammers by summers end! Who knew that studying echinacea would be exciting in so many different ways!

Who turned up the heat!

August 11 was an extra hot day.  We started the day with phenology and then worked on taking plant measurements in P1 before lunch.  The wise decision was made to measure again after lunch and then quit measuring and work on personal projects during the most intense heat of the day!  Turned out great! Sounds like the rest of the week is supposed to be extra hot as well.  We are going to have to do measuring in the mornings I think.  We are making good progress and should have at least P1 and the 99 garden done by weeks end!  Phenology is taking very little time now, so it will soon be time for the next stage!  Let’s hope for a good breeze tomorrow!

Measuring Plants

August 5 saw the team on its second day of measuring plants in P1.  Ruth was there to help and we appreciated it!  We found a lot of plants and learned about some of the insects that are found on the plants.  If we had  a lot of aphids on a plant we told Gina and Abby so they could collect them for their aphid project.  We are learning how to do the process and getting much faster at it.  Looks like rain tomorrow, so we may be delayed in getting back to it.

The Invasion has begun!

Birds foot trefoil has slowly been making its way into P1 along with its buddy Canada thistle.  The time has come to put an end to it!  Today P1 was mapped out and all the invaders were marked for termination.  The eradication will began right after the next rain.  It looks like perhaps Friday will be the day as rain is looking good for Thursday.  Everyone will have to glove up and teach these pesky invaders a lesson!  Look further down the post to see how Will has devised a plan for extra triple protection from sun to take on the task!

Birds Foot Trefoil

Will has decided that extra protection will be needed to take on this task and its shown here demonstrating the latest in ultra triple protection. No sun will be getting in his eyes!

Ultimate protection Will

22 June, Pulling Sweet Clover

Today we started in P8 by pulling some sweet clover.  It was not a task to be taken lightly, only the heartiest could master the “full pull.”  It was really in the ground and being held tight by Brome grass. We did manage to pull on and get a lot pulled out and removed. Hopefully there will be a lot less in the plot from now on. Below is a picture of our bundles.  We figured they were at least as big or bigger than Gina!  We broke for lunch and then started flagging in P1 and at Hegg lake. We were all getting quite good at finding plants and/or staples and almost had all the 5 meter flagging done when a sudden, unexpected rain shower left us running for cover!


Ali’s observation of Steven’s Approach

-Steven’s Approach-
A profile of Prairie as observed by Ali Hall
Written by Matt Olhoft
“My impression is that the landscape has been carved out to make the road”. This was Ali Hall’s first thought as we stopped by Steven’s approach, a small prairie remnant located on Wolley Lake road. Steven’s approach is typical of most field approaches, being about 30 feet wide by about 40 feet long, just big enough to connect a field to a road bed. The field approach is bordered by a wheat field on the west and the road on the east.
Ali noted that there was Echinacea Angustifolia seen right away. Later the realization came that the field approach was loaded with Echinacea and that there may have been as many as 100 metal echinacea tags located right on the field approach. In fact, it was difficult to even stand in one place and not step on Echinacea. Several are setting flowers and will be in full bloom soon. Echinacea plants were in almost every square foot of the field approach.
In further observations, Ali noticed was that there were no rocks or trees present. “The area is kind of prairie like, but not really”, she said. There were several flowering plants seen, and they seem to be located on the upslopes along the ditch side and the field side. The majority of these flowering varieties seen to be birdsfoot trefoil, prairie rose, and alfalfa.
Some discussion ensued between Ali and myself as to the reason Echinacea loved this approached so much, even though it repeatedly gets run over by large equipment. We speculated that perhaps it was the soil type used to build the approach that may be a factor in why they are choosing this area.