Develop and deploy advanced sensors and sensor networks to quantify biological-environmental feedbacks
EcoSENSE aims to develop and deploy advanced in-situ environmental observational networking and analysis approaches to quantify the interactions between key environmental processes and biological function within ecosystems. EcoSENSE will also develop capabilities to synchronize and provide virtual connections between laboratory, controlled mesoscale and field experiments, which will enable development of new insights about system function, microbe-through-biome scale translations, and potential to control biome behavior. New capabilities are also needed to handle and facilitate knowledge generation from extremely diverse omic-through-ecosystem datasets, including increasingly common streaming data. This is facilitated by the co-location of scientific expertise – including in soil ecology, soil physics, soil geochemistry, hydrology, molecular microbiology, dynamic vegetation, geophysics, nuclear physics, computational and data sciences, engineering—all in one location at Berkeley Lab.
EcoSENSE was developed as part of the labwide Microbes-to-Biomes initiative, has been identified as a core component of the proposed Berkeley lab BioEPIC building, and is aligned with several of Berkeley Lab’s projects, including several Berkeley Lab Science Focus Areas, and EESA grand challenges of ‘Earths Microbial Engines’ and ‘Nimble and Networked Sensing Systems’.
The SMART (Sensors at Mesoscale for Autonomous Remote Telemetry) Soils tested is being developed near Building 85 at Berkeley Lab as an unique scientific facility to develop, test and integrate diverse and multi-scale terrestrial system observational capabilities. The SMART Soils testbed will be slope-adjustable mesoscale experimental facility that will enable in-situ sensing and exploration of hydrological, geochemical, microbial and vegetation processes and interactions across geological, flow and geochemical gradients. The testbed will also enable advances in networking, telemetry and assimilation of increasingly autonomous datasets into predictive microbe-to-biome models. The SMART Soils testbed is envisioned as a resource for cross-lab and cross-discipline collaboration. For more information or to be added to the EcoSENSE working group email distribution list, please contact Yuxin Wu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this project, the team will develop an electrical impedance-based sensor technique that uses electrical currents to determine the properties of root systems in the field. The team will incorporate electrodes into plants and soils, then employ advanced algorithms to derive phenotypic information from the sensor data. This data will be integrated with ecosystem models to identify relationships between plant genotype and phenotype. Initially, the technology will be applied to wheat breeding programs at field sites in Oklahoma, with possible future applications.
Key collaborators include the Oklahoma-based Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the largest independent agricultural research institute in the U.S. with more than 13,500 acres of farmland carrying out research to enable farmers and ranchers to increase regional productivity and land stewardship; and Subsurface Insights, a small business geophysical research and development company headquartered in Hanover, NH that specializes in developing, enhancing, commercializing and applying software and hardware for semi-autonomous geophysical and geological data acquisition, processing and result delivery.
This project will develop a tool to precisely quantify soil carbon distribution using inelastic neutron scattering. This is a major advance over existing methods because it does not require samples to be extracted and analyzed chemically. The project takes advantage of recent technical breakthroughs in compact neutron generators, using these particles to form an image of the spatial distribution of carbon and other elements in the soil to depths of 30 cm. If successful, this tool will enable measurement of changes in soil carbon stocks over time, allowing step change improvement in the evaluation and adoption of better land management practices or selection of enhanced crop cultivars.
Key collaborators include Adelphi Technology, Inc. based in Redwood City, CA who specialize in the development of neutron generators.