NORFOLK – One of the most essential natural resources is the soil as this topic was highlighted during a recent Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors meeting.
According to a release from LENRD, soil affects every part of the day, from the food and water that is consumed to the air that is inhaled. Soil health is the capacity of the soil to function as a living ecosystem, nourishing plants and sustaining animals and people.
At their June meeting, the Board of Directors learned more about soil nutrients through a presentation from the University of Nebraska’s Dr. Chittaranjan Ray, Professor and Director of the Nebraska Water Center and Michael Kaiser, Assistant Professor of Soil and Water Sciences. The pair discussed many soil chemistry concepts and answered questions.
Soil becomes healthier when organic matter levels increase (carbon sequestration), water infiltration rates improve (reducing erosion, runoff, and flooding) and the soil biological life is diverse and plentiful.
Soil nutrients exist as positively charged or negatively charged ions when dissolved. The positively charged ions are known as cations and the negatively charged ions are known as anions.
Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is a soil chemical property. It is the ability of the soil to hold or store cations. When soil particles are negatively charged, they attract and hold on to cations (positively charged ions) like calcium, potassium, and sodium, stopping them from being leached down the soil profile. On the other hand, negatively charged soil particles repel anions (negatively charged ions). The implication of this is that negatively charged nutrients such as nitrate, sulphate and chloride are vulnerable to leaching down the soil profile.
In other action, the board rejected all bids for the Willow Creek Dam Pore Pressure Mitigation – Phase 1 Project and authorized the general manager to sign a contract with Dietz Well for completion of two test holes and two production wells at the Willow Creek Dam, southwest of Pierce, not to exceed $92,240.00.
The board also ratified the LR23 report for the Nebraska Legislature. The progress report was requested from the LENRD board and was submitted on June 21.
In other business, the board accepted the proposal from the University of Nebraska to conduct certain research related to the characterization of groundwater nitrate using stable isotope analysis within the district and authorized the general manager to sign the project agreement, not to exceed $17,712.00.
The board also approved the salary adjustments for the cost of living at 5.60% and approved the step and grade changes proposed by management for Fiscal Year 2022.
Anthony Wisnieski of Norfolk was sworn in to fill the vacant seat in Subdistrict 3, due to the retirement of Bob Huntley of Norfolk. Anthony is originally from Dodge and moved to Norfolk in 1996. He is part owner of Building Green Structures and is currently on the Energy Panel Structures Dealer Advisory Board. Anthony’s priorities include providing clean and safe drinking water for future generations.
To learn more about the 12 responsibilities of Nebraska’s NRDs and how the local district can work with their community to protect natural resources, visit lenrd.org and sign up for their monthly emails. The next board of directors meeting will be Thursday, July 22 at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m. and on Facebook Live.