317: Mary Tiedeman on Soil Formation.

Breaking down some factors in the science of studying soil.

Mary is a soil scientist and Agro-ecology PhD student at Florida International University in Miami. Originally from Iowa, she received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Environmental Science and Agronomy at Iowa State University. Her master’s research was on ants and the ways they influence prairie soil formation.

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Her passion for soils has taken her across the globe, from the Alaskan Arctic to, tropical rain forests – and many places in between – all in hopes to better understand soil functioning in different ecosystems.  When not chipping away at her dissertation, Mary is a volunteer blogger for Soils Matter, a blog run by the Soil Science Society of America which is working to share soils information with broad audiences.

In This Podcast:

It was not her first thought when she went college, but after an inspiring study abroad trip, Mary found her passion in the science of studying soil. She tells us how this life path change occurred, and how she not only found a topic she could literally dig into, but also a society that she would enjoy and now represents through her blog articles.  She also tells us more about the factors involved in the formation of soil and how to keep it healthy in our raised bed gardens.

Listen in and learn about:

  • Finding out about soil science when an undergraduate and taking a trip to Ghana
  • The study abroad trip that opened her eyes to the field
  • The difference between forest soils versus cultivated soils
  • Why the study of land use is important, and what she found affected soil quality
  • Her nickname of The King for organic matter and why she calls it that
  • The five soil forming factors
  • Keeping soil healthy in raised beds
  • Making sure you have healthy soil
  • How mulch can be problematic in some areas
  • Soil age and how it develops over time
  • Horizons in the soil
  • Ants in the soil – how they are helpful and affect the soil quality

As well as:

  • Her failure – The first class lecture she had to give for 150 people with materials not everyone could see
  • Her success – Being able to represent the Soil Science Society of America
  • Her drive – Knowledge, learning about the outside world – and, she loves soil!
  • Her advice – If you have an idea and are nervous to implement it, ready up as much as you can, then get out there and do it!

Mary’s Book recommendations:  

 By Wangari Maathai- Unbowed: A Memoir

How to reach Mary:

Websites and Blog:   Soilsmatter.wordpress.com and Soils.org

Producer’s Note: Check out Mary’s blog article on Healthy Soils


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