VIDEO: Texas Tech team monitor soil conditions following toxic river spill
Devin Neeley, a reporter with Albuquerque's KOB Eyewitness News 4, recently sat down with David Weindorf, the BL Allen Endowed Chair of Pedology with Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science, to discuss some of his ongoing research in northern New Mexico.
It is straight out of a James Bond novel: it being a high-tech piece of equipment resembling a cordless drill that quickly analyzes the contents of soil. Weindorf and his research team are using what is technically known as a 'portable X-ray fluorescent spectrometer' to track soil contaminates after the Animas River spill.
The team came all the way from Texas Tech to find out exactly what elements in the orange water that were deposited in San Juan County. "What we want to do is make sure that soils are safe for food and fiber production; that's everyone's concern," said Weindorf, who also serves as associate dean for research with Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
Weindorf and two others from Texas Tech, in partnership with New Mexico State University and the Natural Resource Conversation Service, have been testing soil on farms up and down the Animas and San Juan River corridor with the spectrometer.
It only takes 60 seconds for the portable X-ray fluorescent spectrometer to tell researchers what kinds of metals are in the soil. "This gives us a quick look in the field, because traditional lab analysis could take weeks or even months. Here, we can get a quick look in the field, right on-site, to identify whether or not there are contaminates, or metals are present," he said.
So far, tests show nothing too far out of the ordinary. "The farm fields that we have looked at up and down the valley - the metal content has been quite low," said Weindorf. They hope to continue a partnership with NMSU and the NRCS to test even more in the next few years. "[To] look at the soil quality and provide those farmers with an independent view of their soil quality," Weindorf said.
CONTACT: Eric Hequet, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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