Ames, Iowa – The Iowa Water Center (IWC) annually administers a statewide grant competition known as the IWC Graduate Student Research Competition.
The purpose of this funding is to help graduate students to complete additional research objectives beyond the scope of their current work, with an emphasis on submitting their research to peer-reviewed publications.
Meyer Bohn is one the recipients, along with three other graduate students across Iowa. Each recipient will receive funding for various different research studies.
Bohn’s research focuses on mitigating soil and water degradation.
There are several programs for predictive agroecosystem modeling that are used to target solutions for soil and water quality issues in Iowa, but these models can be sensitive to soil input data. Soil maps that are available now use outdated information and lack the spatial resolution necessary for precision agroecosystem modeling. That is where Bohn comes in.
Bohn, along with his research advisor, Dr. Bradly Miller, have presented the idea of making soil maps through Digital Soil Mapping (DSM). The duo currently has a DSM project running in Story and Boone Counties, and are looking to widen their research to a “quad-county” study, including the counties: Osceola, Clay, Emmet and Dickinson.
There are two main purposes of this study. First, to create an updated soil map that can accurately target soil properties and spatial resolution. Second, to test the spatial models’ transferability used to construct the digital soil maps for their soil variation prediction capability in the greater Des Moines Lobe area.
Get to know Meyer Bohn, a PhD student at Iowa State University.
Bohn is originally from North Dakota and chose to attend Iowa State University for not only the unparalleled agriculture work and research performed there, but also because of his advisor, Dr. Bradley Miller. Dr. Miller is an assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University and is considered by many as one of the leading digital soil mapping researchers in the field.
Bohn also explained the benefit of living in Iowa as a soil scientist with an emphasis in digital soil mapping.
“Iowa is a particularly important place for improving soil map accuracy and precision. Our understanding of how soil properties vary in space has crucial implications for agricultural production and water quality. Iowa’s agricultural wealth and prosperity stems directly from the state’s rich abundance of inherently fertile prairie soils. This great wealth coincides with a critical responsibility, finding the balance between intensive agricultural production while sustaining soil and water quality.”
With the knowledge Bohn holds on the current state of soil maps, he knew that his research plans could make a significant improvement to the foundation of water and soil research throughout Iowa. This led him to apply for the IWC Graduate Student Research Competition.
Bohn shared that his favorite part of the research process is field work.
“I get to travel across the state sampling soils with a hydraulic probe mounted on the back of a pick-up truck,” said Bohn. “I get to see soils in ways that a textbook or journal article could never articulate, and I’ve met some incredible people along the way. The farmers of Iowa are some of the most genuine and charitable people I’ve ever met.”
Bohn also mentioned that he likes to focus on the cartography part of his research process. Cartography is the work of drawing out maps. Bohn shared that mastering the art of cartography was necessary to accurately communicate his research results. Although reaching the final product he is satisfied with can be challenging, it is very rewarding.
When Bohn isn’t in the field researching soils or perfecting maps, he enjoys being in the outdoors, such as camping, fishing, hunting and hiking. He also plays the guitar, and shared that if he ended up not being a soil scientist, he would have probably become a country music singer. On behalf of Iowa’s soil and water quality, we are so glad he chose the career that he did.