Week of 4/21 Update

Hello, everyone!

I am August Higgins. I began working full-time managing this project’s four Davis field sites in January, but I’ve been involved in various Yang Lab projects to different degrees since 2011. However, this is my first contribution to the MMMILC Project blog. I’ll be keeping you updated on my activities in order to give a behind-the-scenes look into gritty underbelly of science, but I’ll be sort of jumping into the middle. Here it goes!

This week in the world of the MMMILC Project, I began by finishing off something I started last week. I finished installing the last irrigation line at the North Davis Riparian Greenbelt site. This site contains 3 transects of milkweed plots about every 6 meters. The transects are numbered 1 to 3, and the plots are numbered from 1 to 840! 1 to 516 are narrow-leafed milkweed and 517 to 840 are broad-leafed milkweed.

The irrigation hose on transect 2 was rolled out and connected last week, but I had yet to finish installing the gallon per hour emitters.  Once this was completed, I ran the water through the irrigation line to soak the ground and to check for leaks due to any loose connections or holes in the hose.

Once the ground was soaked, I moved on to the task of re-seeding each plot. Every plot currently consists of a coco fiber mat and a ground staple with an aluminum number tag attached. As you can see in the picture (above), some of these look great! Unfortunately not every plot has a seedling, so I’m planting a few seeds in each plot. These seeds have been left soaking in the fridge for several days in order to encourage germination. In previous plantings of pre-soaked seeds we have seen germination in only a matter of days!

The watering and re-seeding process was repeated for transect 1. There was a crew out weed-whacking last week that was a little too thorough, so running water on transect 1 revealed damage to the irrigation line and to some plots. There were several broken emitters and coco fiber mats to be replaced, and even a few tears in the hose to be repaired.

Out at the Russell Ranch Long Term Research in Agricultural Systems (LTRAS)site we are having a weed problem. The tiller is unable to mow over our plots or irrigation, so there are lines of weeds in the shape of a 3-pronged trident. Each prong of the weed trident is 250 meters long and the base is 10 meters long. The width of the weed filled area is about one and a half feet (I’ll get a picture next week, but due to the rain driving out there isn’t currently an option). I went out armed only with a trusty hula-ho and my wits. After several hours I had gotten a great workout (and a few blisters), but made relatively little progress with the weeds. It’s back to the drawing boards for solving the weed incursion of LTRAS, as one lone man was no match.

The week closed with a trip to return an extra roll of irrigation tubing to the irrigation supply store, some overdue data entry, and some blogging!

Tune in next week for more adventures of the MMMILC Project and me, August Higgins!

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