Gordon Haverland

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since Jun 22, 2016
Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Recent posts by Gordon Haverland

Oops, here is the link at Wiley:

Supposedly there is a PDF, but both seamonkey and firefox refuse to download it.
6 months ago
This 15 page article I believe is at Wiley.  It might be available freely.

Vegetation–microclimate feedbacks in woodland–grassland ecotones

Paolo D'Odorico
Yufei He
Scott Collins
Stephan F. J. De Wekker
Vic Engel
Jose D. Fuentes
First published: 25 October 2012

To me, this is mostly a handwaving (theoretical) paper, which covers a number of grassland/not-grassland interfaces:
1. woodland/grassland arctic
2. woodland/grassland alpine
3. mangrove/salt marsh coast
4. grassland/shrubland desert

The authors present evidence which  supports the idea that "woodlands" in these situations are altering microclimate so as to better allow for woody species to survive.  The arctic situation is the one I am closest to.  The woodland has lower daytime maximums, higher nighttime minimums and absorbs more solar energy in winter (no leaves on deciduous trees).

I went to high school here (Dawson Creek) in the late 1970s.  Back then, there were lots of farms to the west (towards the Rocky Mountains).  A year or so ago, I went to visit a tree nursery at Moberly Lake, and seen how many farms had reverted back to aspen (farmers walked away).  Back then, I believe this was climate (hardiness) zone 2 (now probably 3b transitioning to 4a).  The area around Dawson Creek has only been in cultivation for about 100 years.

By removing the aspen forest (or at least thinking they had), farmers here forced the microclimate to become colder and have larger daily extremes.  The region has little water nearby to moderate temperatures, so we could swing from -40 to -55C in winter, to +30 to +35C in summer.  The above article talks a bit about how frost and temperatures combine to damage plants (woody and herbaceous).

I am considering honey locust here fr now.  I don't believe honey locust would have grown here 40+ years ago.  Alternatives might include Russian olive (often thought invasive) and some species of alder (which fixes nitrogen with Frankia bacteria).  One point I am considering with honey locust, is that has sparse shading, you can grow a pasture under it.  At some point, I would like to try and crop crops like cereals or oil seeds under it.  You need trees tall enough, that (with pruning) you can drive your farming equipment under.  You want the trees close enough together, that winds are reduced at ground level and that the root system of the trees extend almost everywhere.  With much reduced surface winds, lodging problems with the crops would be reduced (microbursts could probably still cause some lodging), and the warmer microclimate would tend to shorten the time to harvest and reduce frost problems in spring and fall.  I don't have a good idea as to how it might affect freak snowstorms that we can get mid-summer.  But last year we had a freak frost event on Aug 8 or Aug 9; that was our first frost of the harvest, and for many area farmers it was a killing frost.
6 months ago
Before I ran into this review on N2 fixing bacteria not living alone, a couple of other articles had caught my eye.

I am trained in materials science, but among other things I have done a fair amount of nuclear chemistry (analytic or otherwise).

The second one was from Quora (?), where someone was asking if Yeast Agar Mannitol was the best gel for culturing nitrogen fixing nodules.  The first couple of comments came out, and then there a series of comments acknowledging those first commenters.  If those first couple of commenters were so good, why the need to post a comment?

I can appreciate the need to sterilize the outside of the root.  The first suggestions were something like 10 v/o bleach (sodium hypochlorite).  I have no doubt that it would sterilize the outside of the root at some concentration, but if I was to pick a bleach I  think hydrogen peroxide might be more benign (not drive unwanted reactions).  But in the reading I had done, I thought bench ethanol (192 proof or something) was probably the best.

But, before I had run across this question, I had run into some article which mentioned that some of the components that end up in a nitrogen fixing nodule are reversibly incorporated and some are irreversibly incorporated.  I am guessing, that all the bacteria that we normally associated with nitrogen fixing, are reversibly incorporated (which means they can be cultured).  But, since there are other components in the mix, the resulting culture cannot be as effective/efficient/something as the one which they "exposed" in working on that nodule.  Because there was no way to get the irrevresibly incorporated components into the culture.  But for people doing the culturing, they are going into this situation expecting that there is a single, culturable component which can be harvested from the nodule.  So, even if they are able to extract N culturable components, they are only looking to save one of them.  Hence they likely through the rest out.  Even if they cultured all of them (and there are probably things they have caputred in culture, which don't need to be there), how are they going to identify and then culture all the components which are irreversibly incorporated in the nodule?
6 months ago
This paper is a review of the Microbiome associated with nitrogen fixing nodules on plants (mostly legumes).  It was written in 2017.


This a a freely available article, no money needs to be spent to read this.

Within a nodule (so this does NOT include honey locust, which does not form nodules when fixing nitrogen), there are other bacteria present other than the "primary bacteria" that is tabulated (and is known to fix nitrogen).  There are also differences in the fungi present in the plant not in the nodule, and in the nodule.  It is believed that at least part of the difference in fungi, is to bring the other minerals (other stuff?) that is needed in fixing nitrogen.  Original sources in this review go back to (at least) 1888.

It is not exciting reading.  My guess is that a bit more than 1/3 of the article is references (it is a review).

There are lots of references to chemistry in the root/plant, but there are also references to the structure of the root (cells).

As I thought, I didn't see any mention of honey locust in this article.

But, bacteria, fungi and roots are all involved in fixing nitrogen.  And perhaps trying to tie in honey locust, will point to new knowledge.
6 months ago
This some times shows up as bio-security?  Or things related to this do?

If you want to plant alfalfa, clover or other legumes; you can often buy a source of the nitrogen fixing bacteria which are meant to be seeded with the seed, so that you get the best crop.

All things in the world, revolve around this idea of forever growth.  If you are in the business in innoculating yellow clover, at some point you move to other clovers, then to other legumes, then to .... and it just goes on forever.

That is Wall Street.  All businesses must grow, in order to be successful.  That isn't real; that is Wall Street's view of the world.  Exponential growth always has business fail because they don't grow.  I think there has always been service businesses  (like the neighbourhood plumber) who fit into society just fine, and never grow (appreciably).

Let's look at white clover innoculants.   It may be that the current North American centre for white clover innoculants is Ottumwa, Iowa (I am just making things up).  What some biobacerial plant in Ottumwa is brewing, is the bacteria for white clover which work best for Ottumwa.  They might be 2% worse for Barber County, Kansas; but that isn't important.  The idjuts in big business in Ottumwa can make their poorer bacteria more than 2% cheaper for you; so you should buy their stuff.  And this just spreads all over.

As near as I can tell, there are no Canadian sources of innoculants for legume plants.

Let's get back to this hypothetical situation.  A common answer that could come up, is that it costs too much to ship things from Barber, Kansas to Ottumwa.  Which is dumb.  I t may be that someone in Barber was already making this before.  This better stuff.  There is no reason to ship from Barber, it has what it needs already.  The problem, is this Wall Street crap about endless growth.

We are talking bacteria, and most of us have experience (unintended) at growing bacteria.  If you have ever left a wet piece of food at an elevated temperature for a few hours; and had someone eat it and get food poisoning; congratulations!  You have successfully grown bacteria.

I don't know if there are any bacterial recipes which start from chicken soup; but chicken soup isn't far from what bacteria want to grow on.

Finding the bacteria to grow, and scaling them up to the point where you can brew gallons of them can be a little bit of a problem.  But once you have a good population of bacteria to draw from; doing a scale-up to inoculate a few thousand acres of white clover shouldn't be too much of a problem.  The Wall Street boys who want to do everything out of Ottumwa, they may need to wrry about product stability as it takes some time to ship things from Ottumwa to wherever.

There is absolutely no reason why any community in the world, can't be producing innoculants (to fix nitrogen, or anything else)).  If I go looking around the Peace Country; there could be more than 100 kinds of soil.  An innoculant made in the Peace Country is probably going to perform better than one made in Ottumwa.  All the arguments are like: our medicore product is N% worse than your local products, but we can make thiis crappier product for much less than you can make thiis localized product.

All of agriculture has known that this idea of producing all  innoculants from some mega plant is the wrong solution; and yet  we have all been led down that path.

It is not just innoculants, it is a bunch of things.

So there should be reasons for local suppliers of things like innoculants to become successful.  And it would be nice if government would stop the purchase and closing of local suppliers; just to allow Wall Street to make more dollars.
6 months ago
There was a metasequoia.org website.  I gather it died for some reason or another.  It supposedly has moved to metasequoia.net.

The webpage title at metasequoia.net is metasequoia.org.

This page, links to a PDF of a poster from nominally 2008 data, as to where metasequoia were planted.

I am planning to try some metasequoia here.  Compaing temperature data from here, to where metasequoia seems to be successful, is of limited usefulness.  It says where I am, has a limited chance because it can get colder here in winter.  It also points out a similar thing, in that we seemingly don't get enough rainfall.  Which swales should be able to tilt things for.

What more research has pointed towards, is that "by nature" metasequoia tends to be oriented towards growth later in the year than most other trees.  And this is something that I think would be bad here.  Evan's cherry gets put into dormancy on the Canadian Prairies by the typical August drought.  My hope, is to put metasequioa into drought at some point every August, to make it dormant before winter arrives.

7 months ago
Just before I stumbled on this thread via google, I ran across how the term muskeg evolved.  It is a Cree word.  Or rather, muskeg is an English bastardization of a Cree word.  Most people call it bog.

I am at Dawson Creek, BC.  Where the Alaska Highway begins.  In WWII when they started building the highway, there was lots of muskeg to cross.

Muskeg is nominally moss floating on water.  It often appears to be like land, but there need not be any bedrock "connected" to the muskeg.  It can be entirely floating on water.  So, any kind of concrete solution which makes use of near full density concrete isn't like to work.  If you use concrete which has a bulk density less than 1, it can float.

But, going back to building the Alaska Highway in WWII, what they did was corduroy.  They built up a row of logs on top of the muskeg, and then put the gravel fill on top of the logs for the road.

What you need to do, is going to share a lot with building boats (or barges).  If your building is 40 foot across, I am thinking you want wood (tree trunks) 80 foot long.  If trees where you live are not significantly taller than 80 feet, you probably need to "make" an 80 foot tree by fastening two trees together at the crown end.  For this to last any length of time, you need durable wood.  In general, the only durable wood in Canada is tamarack (aka Larch).  I think Newfoundland calls tamarack juniper?  The other way around?  Doesn't matter, you aren't in Newfoundland.

So, that is the old technology.  You can probably help things by learning about shallow, frost protected foundations.  I just built a mushroom home making use of this kind of science, to get enough heat to come through the mushroom "heart" to keep it warm enough to be viable (and we seen -40C once and -30C a few times this winter).

I'm going to try growing black locust, Osage-orange and honey locust for use on the farm this year.  But you can't wait for me to grow trees, and the shipping costs might kill you.  
7 months ago
Effects of environmental factors and management practices on microclimate, winter physiology, and frost resistance in trees
Guillaume Charrier, Jérôme Ngao, Marc Saudreau and Thierry Améglio

Apr 2015


All the authors are from central Europe (Austria, France).

A little more practical article for me.  I think it would help these authors to go visit some place that gets cold in winter (Siberia, the Canadian Prairies, southern Chile).  For me, the obvious thing that is missing is Foehn winds; there is no mention of Foehn winds (or as I know them, chinooks) in this article.

I think this is a more useful article for most people who live where freezing can happen.  But, I think the authors lack experience for where things get really cold.  They seem to think that snow will prevent freezing in the soil, or it just gets a little cold in the soil.  When I moved to Dawson Creek in 1975, we could actually see 2 or more weeks of winter where the warmest temperature on any given day was below -40.  Some people talk about "frost lines" of 4 feet and think they are a bother.  The frost line here, at that time, was 9 feet (I still think it is defined to be 9 feet, but that is another problem).

The authors also talk about the bark of a tree as having thermal inertia.  I don't think of thermal inertia, I think of thermal mass; but I think the two concepts are closely related.  But no, I would never say that the bark of a tree provides significant thermal mass to the interior of a tree.

I should try to read this at least once more.

7 months ago