Regional
5:25 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

New Research: Carbon Storage in Soil

The future of harnessing carbon emissions is looking up. It starts with an NMSU professor and his team looking down...at the soil.

Brian Dwyer is an engineer from Sandia National Lab. He came to Las Cruces recently to do some digging with NMSU professor David Johnson.

"What we'd like to identify is a comparison of the conventional way of growing using synthetic fertilizers versus this new idea where it's more organic and sustainable," said Dwyer.

Dwyer and Johnson, along with two engineers from Los Alamos Lab, weren't just putting shovel to soil, they were digging for data...data Dwyer says could indicate whether a new process by Johnson means a new way to store carbon emissions.

"To see if we can lower the water consumption that's required, lower the fertilizer use....to help reduce the CO2 emissions."

Emissions that many scientists say are one cause of climate change.

Two other engineers were there from Los Alamos Lab. James Barefield completed some hands-on field testing of the equipment.

"Even today we found a few small glitches that we'll fix when we go back to the laboratory, tweak it up and make it a little more robust so that people can be first of all comfortable and safe using the device." said Barefield.

"So once we get it to the point of completely user friendly, we can hand it off and if they have a problem they can give us a call and we can help them out and fix it."

Loan Le is a chemical engineer by training, but she knows a few things about how plants grow.

"Chemicals make a big difference in the crops yield."

Le also worked on the equipment's software.

If the technology sounds familiar, that's because it's similar technology used by the mars rover to test the Martian soil -- it was developed at Los Alamos.

Dr. David Johnson is an engineering professor at NMSU and a senior project specialist with the institute for the energy and the environment.

This project came about from his research and others.

He hopes the commercial industry will buy into some of these new technologies he's working on. And according to his results, the commercial industry certainly has reason to be interested.