Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


The sequestration of atmospheric carbon into the soil is an important mechanism to combat the current global warming trend and the depletion of soil organic matter. Plants capture carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil, where it is utilized by soil organisms; these processes increase soil organic matter, decrease the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and fuel microbial respiration that drives nutrient production needed by plants. In this study I measured the accumulation of soil organic matter on land that had been in constant row crop rotation for many years and was converted into prairie in increments of 10-15 ha per year starting in 2018. This provided a gradient to see how conversion affects the total soil organic carbon over time. I examined this using shallow (top 15 cm) and deep (0-45 cm) core samples. Deep core samples provide information as to how deep and fast the soil is sequestering the soil organic carbon. I also examined the effect that restoration has on the soil's bulk density. Both the percent and density of soil organic matter increased by over 40% in the first five years after restoration. The top 15 cm accumulated 1,416 kg of soil organic matter per ha per year. With soil between 15 and 45 cm trending similar to the top 15 cm, Irvine Prairie is sequestering 4,248 kg of soil organic matter per ha per year, or approximately 2,464 kg C per ha per year. Finally, I developed a novel, improved technique for collecting deep core samples utilizing a corer tip that was modified and fitted with an auger to reduce surface tension on the corer tube. The auger core tip collected soil samples with minimal compaction while the original corer tip was found to be pressing the core sample into the ground rather than collecting all of the sample when soil moisture was high.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Biology

First Advisor

Kenneth Elgersma

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 51 pages)