Thursday, March 17, 2011

Floating Island Plant Nursery

Runoff from nearby roads and ground surfaces flow into the constructed stormwater wetland creating a great place for bioremediation to happen in Boone. As the stormwater runoff flows through the wetland, the plants, soil, and microbes help break down the pollution.

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are great for plants to grow in your garden, but when they leave the land and enter an aquatic system they are considered pollutants. These nutrients increase the amount of phytoplankton and algae growth, creating a negative affect on water quality and habitat.

Plants are extremely important components of a wetland because they utilize the excess nutrients in the water and provide wonderful habitat for diverse species. Propagating wetland plants can be challenging because the seeds and plants like lots of water and tend to float away if not contained. Bill Lord, NC Extension Specialist, was working with tobacco growers down east and noticed how they start their seedlings in floating systems. He modified the tobacco propagation process to work in a wetland setting. So now we have a floating island with wetland species in the Boone constructed wetlands.

The plants growing on “the island” will mine for nutrients in the water column thereby sequestering even more nutrients. When the plants are ready for harvest we will plant them in other constructed stormwater wetlands.

What you can do at home to reduce nutrients in our environment:

• Purchase Phosphate Free dishwashing detergents! 16 states have banned these type products, but they can still be found on the shelves in North Carolina. Its up to the consumer to be educated!
• Have a soil test done before you add any fertilizer to the lawn and garden! It’s FREE in NC! Stop by the Extension Office to pick up the boxes!
• Have your septic tank pumped. Call Extension with any questions.
• Build a rain garden to capture nutrients from impervious surfaces

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