“With this new technique, scientists now have a way to observe soil processes, live and in situ. This is exciting because there are so many things to discover in soil and we don’t know yet what they are.”
That would be Dr. Lionel Dupuy, whose clear soil (also known as Napion, a synthetic substrate) is turning heads in botanical circles. It looks a little like the contents of the silica packet that comes in a box of new shoes when dry, but add nutrient-rich water and it becomes, well, a little like loose agar (that stuff at the bottom of a petri dish).
What’s important about this translucent mush? Plants can easily use it as a soil substitute, a substrate that allows them to set down roots.
The importance of this material spans a number of applications, but for now, scientists are excited to observe how root systems grow, how they interact with other species’ roots, and how disease can spread among plants. Personally, I just want some of the stuff so I know when my desk plant has outgrown its terra cotta. —MN
Fall is finally upon us here in Maryland. Such wonderful days of sunshine in between the days of rain make for some beautiful walking weather. I took out my kids and my DSLR and decided to put some nice panoramas together.