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K-State Today

November 20, 2019

Moorberg to give this week's geology seminar

Submitted by Matthew Kirk

Colby Moorberg, assistant professor of soil science in the K-State agronomy department, will give a geology seminar at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in 213 Thompson Hall. He will present "Investigating the Pedosphere through Hydropedology and Root Ecology."

Abstract: The pedosphere exists at the intersection of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. In this overview of the activities of the K-State Hydropedology and Root Ecology Laboratory at Kansas State University, Moorberg will describe how we use a soil science and engineering approach to study the interactions of each of these spheres in wetland systems influenced by agriculture and climate change. One wetland system that will be reviewed is Carolina bays, which are oval-shaped wetlands oriented along the long axis from the northwest to the southeast and occur most commonly in North and South Carolina. These wetlands are abundant in number, and occur in pristine, drained, farmed, or disturbed conditions. Future use or restoration of Carolina bays depend on site history and the degree of disturbance. The second type of wetland system to be reviewed is thermokarst bogs, which occur in boreal forest where permafrost has thawed, leaving behind a permafrost thaw collapse scar that is surrounded by berms of remaining permafrost. These wetlands are becoming more abundant as warming of the Arctic and Subarctic advances further permafrost thaw. Understanding these wetlands is important for refining estimations of methane emissions as carbon in permafrost becomes available for decomposition and production of carbon dioxide and methane. Future and current wetland research by the K-State Hydropedology and Root Ecology Laboratory is focused on depressional wetlands such as playas and bison wallows, developing Ecological Site Descriptions for wetland ecosystems for the National Cooperative Soil Survey, and developing new technology and soil sensors for studying such systems.

Moorberg oversees the Hydropedology and Root Ecology Laboratory, which conducts research on soil-and-root interactions in agricultural, wetland, and riparian ecosystems. He teaches AGRON 305 Soils and AGRON 635 Soil and Water Conservation, among other college courses. He is also a coach for the K-State Soil Judging Team and an advisor to the Wheat State Agronomy Club.

Before joining Kansas State University, Moorberg earned his Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Iowa State University of Science and Technology. He later completed his master's degree and doctorate in soil science at North Carolina State University. Following graduate school, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Washington civil and environmental engineering department. He is also a certified professional soil scientist. Moorberg is an open textbook advocate and has developed two open textbooks: "Soils Laboratory Manual," Moorberg and Crouse, 2017; and "Soil and Water Conservation: An Annotated Bibliography," Moorberg, 2019. He is a member of the National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils and the Soil Science Society of America Soils Certification Committee, an associate editor for Natural Sciences Education, and a board member for the natural resources and environmental science secondary major at Kansas State University.