Seems like everyday there is some sort of environmental disaster or another. Thanks to these researchers, we have a bit more information about correcting some of these problems. Thankfully, we don't experience the Exxon Valdese disasters everyday; but for those smaller occurrences, researchers at the National University of Singapore looked at how slow-release fertilizers can aid bioremediation for oil spills. They simulated a petrochemical oil spill on a beach by essentially placing oil-spiked sand in cans in the surf of the beach and covering them with a product that prevented the sand from washing away but allowed beach water into and out of the sand. Half of the samples contained only the sand and oil. Osmocote was mixed with the other samples at a very low rate. They found that the microbes in the Osmocote/sand/oil samples were much more active than in the sand/oil samples; their increased activity increased the biodegradation of the oil in the samples. The increased activity and increased biodegradation continued for the entire 105-day study. Later testing showed Osmocote maintained a higher nutrient level for at least one year after the onset of the study.

In the case of forest fires, post-fire management is often complicated because the soil develops a water-repellent characteristic. Not only does water run off, causing erosion, but it is difficult to get water into the soil to support new plant growth. Until now, the length of time it takes to reduce water repellency has been undocumented. A study at Colorado State University measured water repellency after a wildfire burned a pine forest in the northern Colorado Front Range. They measured 36 sites at depths ranging from 0 to 7.5 inches. They found water repellency weakened gradually and was non-existent a year after the fire. The more severe the burn, the more severe the water repellency. The deeper the soil, the less impacted by the burn and the less the water repellency. Hopefully, you won't have to perform post wildfire plant establishment, but if the barn burns and some lawn with it, you now have some facts to help with your plant establishment decisions.

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