by Luke Midura
Armed with Shovels, Sharpies and scientific-grade Ziploc bags, Team Tree continued its intrepid adventures in urban forestry this week. Charged with the mission of soil data collection, the team took soil density ratings at depths of six and twelve inches, and collected a pint of soil for analysis from a series of random sites located within the study site.
“Can I help you?” Is probably the most common question you can expect to get from homeowners if you are using a penetrometer in a residential area. A penetrometer is a tool used to measure soil density, useful in determining compaction. It is similar in shape and execution of a soil probe, except no soil core is removed, and a pressure gauge on the top of the unit indicates the level of force required to penetrate the soil to a desired depth. The process of taking penetrometer readings and removing a soil sample from each location looks just unusual enough to raise concern from vigilant homeowners, leading the conscientious scientists of Team Tree to recommend that similar expeditions be carried out in classic lab coat attire using vehicles clearly marked with the University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources logo.
While some may argue that nothing is more exciting than collecting soil data, the summer data collection portion of this project proved to be among the highlights of Team Tree’s year. Procuring data during visits to each of over 1800 trees that failed during the storms of June 20th and 21st, 2013 provided opportunities for close examination of some extremely large trees and their root systems. Included among those trees were those which failed due to tip over and those that broke off above the ground line. Experience and teamwork aided the crew as they assiduously compiled information on boulevard, sidewalk and street conditions amidst what evidence remained of the dendronomic destruction dealt by the astonishing summer storms.