Miriam’s Work: soil samples, allotment diaries & ecology conferences

Miriam, one of the MYHarvest team PhD students, is now in her third year of study. Over the past two years she has mostly been found collecting soil samples on allotments around the country, and beginning the process of analysing these samples to uncover information about the soil quality on your plots. With nearly three thousand samples, it’s a good job that the MYHarvest research technician, Roscoe, and fellow MYHarvest PhD student, Marta, are also working hard on the analysis of these samples! Over the coming winter Miriam will be drying, sorting and grinding the samples before conducting analyses to find out key information such as pH, soil organic carbon content, bulk density, and carbon to nitrogen ratios.

Alongside this, Miriam has also been running the MYHarvest diaries project over the past year – a whopping 435 of you signed up to fill out diaries of daily allotment activity, and with a summer like the one we’ve had, people have been busy, with many participants requiring extra entry sheets to keep up with the frequency of allotment visits. The first of these diaries will start to come back at the end of the year, through to the end of March, after which Miriam will be digitalising the data and looking at how energy (for example, harvested rainwater, or petrol-powered tools) is used on allotments, as well as other pieces of information, such as the average amount of time people spend on their plot over the course of a year.

Miriam will also be speaking at this year’s annual British Ecological Society conference on her first-year work investigating the change in allotment provision in the United Kingdom throughout the twentieth century, and discussing the consequences of allotment closures as well as the question of what former allotment sites have become used for in the present day.

You can follow Miriam on Twitter @MiriamDobson if you would like to keep up with her PhD work.