you know that we have been researching about urban soil for a while and one of the tools we have worked with is chromatography. next 7 june at the botanical garden of barcelona we will give workshops with 2 variants of this separation technique: photo chromatography for soil samples and paper chromatography for leaves pigments separation. check the program here there are plenty of great activities ;)
Soil Chromatography is an incredibly interesting way to visualise our soil and the biological processes that are occurring within it. For me, it is also the point where science and art intersect.
You’ll be able to read all about the how and the why of Chromatography in the Manual on Soil testing that we are producing at the #LabICMx but I thought I’d share some of the photos from the day.
Preparing the chromatography paper
Preparing the Silver Nitrate Solution
A soil picture forming, 1 hour after placing the filter paper and wick in the soil solution.
A soil picture, 15 hours after placing the filter paper and wick in the soil solution.
I can’t wait to try this technique with many different types of soil and other things like vegetables and foods… Art and science… Amazing!
Today we headed out to do our field work with the Urban Lab at Boca del Rio. In all we collected samples from 4 different sites.
Site 1 was visit to a kids daycare centre where in the near future a veggie garden will be installed.
The house of Santiago’s mum was the site of our 2nd visit. They have a lovely 2 hectares with dogs, chickens, ducks, pigs and a large veggie garden. And would you believe it, the family is from Catalunya! As they say, the world is a tissue… (or is that only in Spanish???)
We then headed back to the lab to take some samples from the land there before riding bikes provided by the Boca del Rio council to take some samples from the beach.
All in all a great day out in the field (much nicer than being in the office!!!) and a huge thanks to Alejandra, Alexandro and Santiago from the Laboratorio Urbano and Citycultores for being our guides for the day!
First real day of work today… Good to have a clear idea of what we are going to be doing in the next 2 weeks, to bring out all the doubts, have a resolution to the doubts, have more doubts arise and more solutions… that for me is what this lab is all about, a group of people from different backgrounds coming together and working together on a singular project, each person with their expertise bringing up more questions and then coming up with the answers themselves.
Today we defined what the objectives for the next 10 days will be. Who is going to be doing what. Brainstorming. What things can we add to the project, what things should we take out. Debating. Defining. Clarifying.
We have Tania, Lucia and Marcos working on the programming of the APP and Questionnaire as well as looking at different options for mapping.
Bris and Daniela are looking at plants as bioindicators/context indicators.
Karla and Alaide researching traditional and DIY soil tests.
Jorge is our chemical genius and he’s preparing everything for our chromatography tests that hopefully we’ll get done on Thursday.
It is a relief to be started, to have our goals set and to know what we are working towards.
Tomorrow we’ll continue with the work we started today, really define what tests we are going to do when we visit a future urban farm on Wednesday with the lovely folks from the Laboratorio Urbano Boca del Rio.
Good news this week; Our project “Soil, Food and the City” (“Suelo, Ciudad y Alimento“) was one of ten projects selected from around the world to be developed at the MediaLab Prado Citizen Innovation workshop to be held in Veracruz, Mexico, in November.
The objective of this project is to create a low-cost tool that we can use to evaluate the quality of soil in an urban setting. With this tool we’ll be able to map empty lots in the city which have the potential to be used to grow food, with the end goal of achieving food sovereignty and security.
To create this global picture of urban soil quality we’ll conduct various tests. These tests would be conventially divided into three ‘boxes’ or subsets of tests, each with its peculiarities and advantages. The kits consist of affordable and sufficiently qualitative tests for the assessment of soil properties in urban and peri-urban sites. The complementary nature of each test will help citizens and scientists to gain an overall understanding of soil health and processes.
So if you think you’d be interesting in helping us develop this project, or to learn more about the workshops as a whole check out the collaborators page here.
This week we’ve sent off a project that we hope will be included in the MediaLab Prado “citizen innovation” workshops that will be held in late November in Veracruz, Mexico.
Our project relates to soil health in urban and peri-urban areas and how ordinary citizens around the world can learn more about their soil, its processes, what it contains, and even how to improve it using open source tools. Click the pic below to read more about the workshop.
We’ll know if we will be on our way to Mexico in the first week of September, so until then, fingers crossed as we tend to the veggie garden!