Finding Space for Research

Finding Space for Research

February 24, 2017 Ecology Education Research 0

While the World Garden Commons is designed as a community gathering space, research conducted there is helping us understand natural urban spaces. Last year, North Dakota State University researchers kicked off numerous projects in the stormwater basin.

Their research data will provide important information for planners and community members who will make decisions about stormwater management in the future.

From the projects, we are learning more about topics such as natural prairie restoration and water retention.

Here’s a brief explanation of some of the projects:

Piezometers, an instrument that measures the pressure of gas or liquids, were installed to sample groundwater in the basin. The samples collected from April to September will be analyzed at the North Dakota Department of Health lab in Bismarck for E.coli, nitrogen, phosphorus, nitrates, ammonia, TKN, general chemistry and dissolved phosphorus.

Additional devices were designed to test the water flowing into and out of the basin during major spring flooding and summer storm events at three sites: World Garden Commons, a basin near Scheels, and the Fish Eye Basin surrounded by apartments north of 9th Ave. Samples were taken at three different water levels as water entered and exited the basins.

Researchers inventoried vegetation as part of native prairie restoration in the basin last spring. Twenty-five ovals were marked and seeded with various seed mixes. A seed blanket was placed on half of the seeded area to protect the seeds from erosion. Later, a standardized inventory was taken to assess the vegetation established in the mowed and non-mowed areas.

To determine how trails will impact vegetation, Jesse, a post-graduate researcher, used a modified aerator, dubbed the “Bison foot traffic simulator,” to replicate foot traffic on newly mowed paths. Expect to see more of Jesse and the “Bison foot traffic simulator” in spring and summer of 2017.

Jack Norland, NDSU Natural Resources Management program, supervised three undergraduate research projects.  Based on project stream flows a student, developed two rock riffles and two rock/willow riffles to induce meandering in the stream. A trash research project collected samples from three basins to determine where trash in the story water system is coming from. A survey of the Growing Together community garden participants was conducted to learn the motivations, benefits, and barriers to participating in the community gardens.


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