from Jess Hansen via ndn-aim list
Prairie grass cleanses soil in ISU study
By LIZ ALLEN KOEP
The Ames Tribune
Thursday, August 1, 2002
AMES, Iowa - Native big blue stem and yellow Indian grass could be a safer
and cheaper way to clean up spills from agricultural chemicals.
Iowa State University researchers have been experimenting with 12 species of
native prairie grasses in hopes of finding ways to improve the state's soil
Joel Coats, an entomologist and leader of the three-year project, said the
lab tests have been successful and he hopes eventually to try the project on
a contaminated site in the state.
The research is funded through a $20,000 grant from the University of Iowa.
"They're the right plants to tolerate residues and enhance growth in the
soil," Coats said.
He said prairie grasses can take tough conditions, including drought, heat,
cold and flooding, which make them the perfect plants for this work.
The grasses' roots help tiny bacteria and fungus grow, which "frees up
nutrients in the soil better than plants do by themselves," Coats said.
In turn, the bacteria and fungus help detoxify the soil.
In the lab experiments, Coats said a "substantial amount" of toxins were
removed from the soil by using prairie grasses.
©2002 Omaha World-Herald.
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