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Penn State Soil Characterization Lab

Soil is an integral part of ecosystem function. There are 29 million acres (11,735,884 hectares) of soil in Pennsylvania supporting: wetlands; forest lands; agricultural lands; urban lands; homes, businesses, and roads; our drinking and wastewater filtration. Without soil, these activities and functions would be much more difficult and in some cases even impossible, for soil is as precious to our lives as the very blood in our bodies.

Research in the Soil Characterization Laboratory focuses on people’s use of landscapes and the accompanying changes in soil function across the larger ecosystem the soil supports. Dr. Drohan’s research group addresses basic science questions, but also demonstrates how this new knowledge can be applied to improve land management and ecosystem stability.

Soil Characterization Lab News

Cocoa, Colombia and Dogs
March 28, 2019
Canine team suelo helps advance cocoa research in Colombia
NEW BOOK CHAPTER: Backyard portals: A solutions-oriented approach to understanding and valuing soil.
March 11, 2019
Pennsylvania artist Stacy Levy and Penn State soil scientist Patrick Drohan teamed up to address the question...."How can we value nature through artistic and scientific methodologies?"...click to read more.
NEW PAPER: Geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of loess along northern Appalachian, USA major river systems appear driven by differences in meltwater source lithology
March 11, 2019
K.S. Lindeburg and P.J. Drohan: Eastern United States loess mapped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) mostly occurs near major river systems like the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. Results suggest that developing a “loess fingerprint” for each river system based on major, minor and rare earth elements is possible, and likely to be useful in differentiating sources; however coarse silts may be a more effective fraction (than fine silts) for sediment sourcing, especially if rare earth elements are used.