Tag Archives: water quality

Cleaning the watershed, protecting farmers’ bottom lines

When farmers on Virginia’s Eastern Shore were told they had to curb the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous seeping from their fields into the Chesapeake Bay, Zach Easton stepped in to find a solution. Easton, an assistant professor of biological systems engineering, may have found a way to save the bay while maintaining farmers’ profits with the development of a bioreactor buried under the coast’s fertile agricultural grounds.

“The ultimate hope is that this will be a cost-effective system that producers can use to protect water quality and help keep agriculture profitable in Virginia,” said Easton, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist whose research is conducted at the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Painter. Continue reading

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Investigating life in the clouds

As children, we are taught about the beautiful simplicity of the water cycle. Precipitation cascades from the sky, falls onto plants and ponds and people, then evaporates back into the atmosphere and eventually descends back to Earth.

But what if it wasn’t that simple? What if instead of just modest H2O, there were also millions of microbes in the rain? What if these microbes then went back up into the atmosphere and became parts of clouds again? What if these bacteria and fungi and other tiny organisms actually contributed to the formation of rain itself? Continue reading

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