Science Research in the Burke

Summer 2022: HHS rising senior Zach Navarrete conducts a soil study

Zach has cleared a plot of land near the Broadway entrance at Lower Burke, which will serve as the test zone for his science research project. Zach's research is a comparative study of the thermal efficacies of two films used for soil solarization: a biodegradable film and a polyethylene film. Soil solarization is a method of integrated pest management in which a film is placed over a patch of soil (with or without vegetation). The film enhances heat within the soil, eliminating plant pests and boosting plant growth response. The span of the test will last for approximately 5-6 weeks, after which Zach may partner with Hastings Green to use this method of integrated pest management in our efforts to restore Hastings ecosystems infested with invasive species, such as in the Burke.

Tilling process: On the first day, Zach staked out the test area and reached out to some of his friends to help with initial raking. He also reached out to Henry Marquis to ask if I could borrow a manual tiller. On the second day, Zach and his friend Sorin began the initial clearing of surface weeds and plants. On the third day, Zach used the manual tiller to remove any surface vegetation that he was unable to remove with my non-mechanical tools and turned over the soil, prepping the site for solarization. Two days later, he laid down the films and heat sensors and began the experiment.

Testing the soil samples from under the various plastic films for nutrients.