Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Testing Day at the AFRI Rice Field

We took a lot of pictures today out at the rice field. This way we can get a close up idea of how all the rice in the field is fairing and decide when we are ready to take the next step. The next step is to stop adding water to the field and drain it. We will send the photos to our team members at UC Davis and see what they think.

In the meantime we also did more water testing today. For a look at what all the tests should be showing us, see our previous post.

Here are the results:
Nitrate-Nitrogen levels on both fields are still the same as last time at 0.0.

Sulfate levels are keeping pretty consistant, with just a little variation in Field 2 Sample B.
Field 1 Sample A = 160
Field 1 Sample B = 100
Field 2 Sample A = 160
Field 2 Sample B = 80

Low Range Phosphates show a little variation this time as well.

Field 1 Sample A = 1.0
Field 1 Sample B = 0.8
Field 2 Sample A = 0.2
Field 2 Sample B = 0.4

Amonia-Nitrate samples are the same as last week at all fields showing .25

Measuring of salt and conductivity remains within similar ranges

Field 1 Sample A = Salt 1540   Conductivity 2230
Field 1 Sample B = Salt 1550   Conductivity 2240
Field 2 Sample A = Salt 1480   Conductivity 2150
Field 2 Sample B = Salt 1560   Conductivity 2260

Water temperature at testing time: 70.7 degrees.

Here are the pictures of the fields.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rice is flowering stage

Today we took air samples from our rice field AFRI project. We'll send the samples to our team at UC Davis who will check the totals. We take three carbon (gas) samples from each side of the field to see if there is any change to the amount of carbon emitted into air from each stage the rice is in. We take air samples every two weeks.

There are three main growth stages of the rice plant:
1. vegetative (germination to panicle initiation)
2. reproductive (panicle initiation to flowering)
3. ripening (flowering to mature grain)

Right now the rice on Jersey Island is at the flowering stage. The flowering stage begins with the emergence of the first anthers from the 'uppermost spikelets on each panicle.

Each individual spikelet flowers for only several hours during the middle of the day on two or three successive days.

Flowering begins among the uppermost spikelets and continues for approximately 15 days regardless of variety as the remaining spikelets successively open (the lowermost spikelets flowering last). During flowering, pollen from the anthers is transported by wind and insects to the stigma, which carry it down into the ovaries where fertilization of the ovules occurs.

In another week or so we will be draining the water from the field and letting the rice dry out which will take several weeks. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Test results for the AFRI Learning Lab rice field

Over the past few weeks samples and tests have been completed on the AFRI Learning Lab. The tests being conducted are testing water, soil and air. The students are conducting their own samples for water and soil, while the air samples are being complete by members of the AFRI Team at UC Davis.

Below are a list of the test with results completed on August 7, 14, 21
Samples were taken from each side of the field and two samples were taken from each side.
Front part of the field to the middle dock is considered Field A
Back part of the field is Field B
There are two separate studies being completed (Field A & B) because in Field A nutrients were added to the field in the beginning of growing.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
Electrical Conductivity (EC)

With this study we used a TDS meter: A TDS meter is based on the electrical conductivity (EC) of water. Pure H20 has virtually zero conductivity. Conductivity is usually about 100 times the total cations or anions expressed as equivalents. TDS is calculated by converting the EC by a factor of 0.5 to 1.0 times the EC, depending upon the levels. Typically, the higher the level of EC, the higher the conversion factor to determine the TDS. NOTE - While a TDS meter is based on conductivity, TDS and conductivity are not the same thing.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are the total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water, expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), also referred to as parts per million (ppm). TDS is directly related to the purity of water and the quality of water purification systems and affects everything that consumes, lives in, or uses water, whether organic or inorganic, whether for better or for worse.

Why Should You Measure the TDS Level in Your Water?
The EPA Secondary Regulations advise a maximum contamination level (MCL) of 500mg/liter (500 parts per million (ppm)) for TDS. Numerous water supplies exceed this level. When TDS levels exceed 1000mg/L it is generally considered unfit for human consumption. A high level of TDS is an indicator of potential concerns, and warrants further investigation. Most often, high levels of TDS are caused by the presence of potassium, chlorides and sodium. These ions have little or no short-term effects, but toxic ions (lead arsenic, cadmium, nitrate and others) may also be dissolved in the water.

Why does this meter also check the salt content in the water?
Salt water affects plant growth by actually dehydrating the plant, which will kill it. The plant will have a burnt appearance if there is too much salt water. There are some plants that grown in salt water though and are not harmed by the salt.

Test Results: 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 1 = 2350 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 2 = 2350
8/7/13  Field B Sample 1 = 2290
8/7/13  Field B Sample 2 = 2290

8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 2370
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 2170
8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 2400
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 2350

8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 2300
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 2400
8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 2300
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 2400

8/7/13  Field A Sample 1 = 3.3 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 2 = 3.37
8/7/13  Field B Sample 1 = 3.43
8/7/13  Field B Sample 2 = 3.37

8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 3.3
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 3.4
8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 3.43
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 3.37

8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 3.45
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 3.41
8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 3.28
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 3.43

8/7/13  Field A Sample 1 = 1620 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 2 = 1780
8/7/13  Field B Sample 1 = 1850
8/7/13  Field B Sample 2 = 1780

8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 1620
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 1620
8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 1740
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 1740

8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 1660
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 1660
8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 1590
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 1660

Ammonia Nitrogen
Why is Ammonia-Nitrogen an indicator of Water Quality?
Ammonia-nitrogen is an inorganic, dissolved form of nitrogen that can be found in water and is the preferred form for algae and plant growth.  Ammonia is the most reduced form of nitrogen and is found in water where dissolved oxygen is lacking.  When dissolved oxygen is readily available bacteria quickly oxidize ammonia to nitrate through a process known as nitrification. 

Other types of bacteria produce ammonia as they decompose dead plant and animal matter.  Depending on temperature and pH (a measurement of acidity), high levels of ammonia can be toxic to aquatic life. High pH and warmer temperatures increase the toxicity of a given ammonia concentration.  High ammonia concentrations can stimulate excessive aquatic production and indicate pollution.  Important sources of ammonia to rivers and ponds can include: fertilizers, human and animal wastes, and byproducts from industrial manufacturing processes. 

Test Results:
8/7/13  Field A Sample 1 = .10
8/7/13  Field A Sample 2 = .10
8/7/13  Field B Sample 1 = .25
8/7/13  Field B Sample 2 = .25

8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = .25
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = .25
8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = .25
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = .25

8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = .10
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = .25
8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = .10
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = .05

Why Nitrate, Nitrite, and Nitrogen Are Important?
Nitrogen is one of the most abundant elements. About 80 percent of the air we breath is nitrogen. It is found in the cells of all living things and is a major component of proteins. Inorganic nitrogen may exist in the free state as a gas N2, or as nitrate NO3-, nitrite NO2-, or ammonia NH3+. Organic nitrogen is found in proteins and is continually recycled by plants and animals.

Environmental Impact:
Nitrogen-containing compounds act as nutrients in rivers. Nitrate reactions in fresh water can cause oxygen depletion. Aquatic organisms depending on the supply of oxygen in the stream will die. The major routes of entry of nitrogen into bodies of water are municipal and industrial wastewater, septic tanks, feed lot discharges, animal wastes (including birds and fish), as well as discharges from car exhausts.

Bacteria in water quickly convert nitrites to nitrates. Nitrites can produce a serious condition in fish called "brown blood disease." Nitrites also react directly with warm-blooded animals to produce methemoglobin. Methemoglobin destroys the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen. Nitrite/nitrogen levels below 90 mg/l and nitrate levels below 0.5 mg/l seem to have no effect on warm water fish.

Test Results:
8/7/13  Field A Sample 1 = 1.0 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 2 = 1.0
8/7/13  Field B Sample 1 = 0
8/7/13  Field B Sample 2 = 0

8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 1.0
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 1.0
8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 1.0
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 1.0

8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 0
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 0
8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 0
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 0

Low Range Phosphates
Why test low range phosphates?
According to the EPA phosphorus is a common constituent of agricultural fertilizers, manure and organic wastes in sewage and industrial effluent. It is an essential element for plant life, but when there is too much of it in water, it can speed up eutrophication (a reduction in dissolved oxygen in water bodies caused by an increase of mineral and organic nutrients) of rivers and lakes. Soil erosion is a major contributor of phosphorus to streams. Bank erosion occurring during floods can transport a lot of phosphorous from the riverbanks and adjacent land into a stream.

Test Results 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 1 = .2 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 2 = .2
8/7/13  Field B Sample 1 = .2
8/7/13  Field B Sample 2 = .2

8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = .4
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = .4
8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = .4
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = .4

8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = .8
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = .8
8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = .4
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = .2

Why test for sulfate?
Sulfate is a compound found in nature. It occurs naturally in water in various amounts. If a high level of sulfate is in water, the water may have a bitter taste. Sulfates are also found in minerals, soil, rocks, plants and food. 

When the AFRI project was in the nursery stage we frequently smelled sulfur in the water inside the greenhouses. Now that all the rice is exposed to the air we hardly smell sulfate at all. 

Where can sulfate be found and how is it used?
Sulfate is found in most fresh water supplies. Some regions have higher sulfate levels than others. In foods, sulfate is present as the salts of sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, ammonium, and potassium. 

Test Results 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 1 = 160 
8/7/13  Field A Sample 2 = 200
8/7/13  Field B Sample 1 = 160
8/7/13  Field B Sample 2 = 180

8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 160
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 160
8/14/13  Field B Sample 1 = 160
8/14/13  Field B Sample 2 = 180

8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 160
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 120
8/21/13  Field B Sample 1 = 120
8/21/13  Field B Sample 2 = 160

Soil Testing
NPK Soil Kit 
N= Nitrogen
pH Test was completed as well.

It is hard to list the results to these tests only listed letters with results on test cards. We'll take some time to go through these and post them and the card info in another post.

Air/Gas Tests
Gas test have been sent to UC Davis for analysis. Results will follow. In the picture above the white cone is a carbon unit that tests the inside of the unit for gas otherwise know as carbon.

The final test...
The last test is simply to check to make sure there is enough water in the field. Someone from the Delta Science Center committee checks the water level several times a week. At this point in the study keeping the field flooded is important. The above ruler shows us where the water level is at this time. Right now this is a good hight for this size field.

Already the main AFRI study on Twitchell Island has drained their water. The learning lab on Jersey Island will have to keep this field flooded for a few more weeks since we had so many problems getting the project going this year.