Measuring Soil Health Toolkit
Webinar Presenter, Panelists & Participants
Presenter: Dr. Kristine Nichols, USDA ARS North Dakota
Dr. Kris Nichols grew up on a primarily corn-soybean farm in southwestern Minnesota. She joined the research group at the Agricutural Research Service (ARS) Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory (NGPRL) in Mandan, ND in June, 2003 as a Soil Microbiologist. Dr. Nichols received Bachelor of Science degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, a Masters degree in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003.
Since 1993, Dr. Nichols has studied arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi – a plant-root symbiont. Her most recent work involves the investigation of glomalin – a glycoproteinaceous substance produced by AM fungi. Glomalin contributes to nutrient cycling by protecting AM hyphae that are transporting nutrients from the soil to the plant in exchange for carbon from the plant and to soil structure and plant health by helping to form and stabilize soil aggregates. Dr. Nichols has found that glomalin is a major component of soil organic matter (ca. 15-20%) in undisturbed soils and may be an agriculturally managed soil carbon sink. Kris has been examining the impacts of crop rotations, tillage practices, and livestock grazing management on soil aggregation, water relationships, and glomalin at NGPRL.
Brian Lindley, No-till on the Plains Executive Director