Homestead autopsy
8:00 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Unlocking prairie secrets from a sod house

Researchers prepare to take down a section of a sod house in Gates, Neb., in order to study the bricks made of dirt.
Credit Jackie Sojicko for Harvest Public Media

Ecologists in Nebraska are trying to find out what the Great Plains looked like when homesteaders settled there in the 19thcentury. To do that, they’re working with a team of archaeologists and historians dissecting a sod house, a house built out of bricks cut from dirt.

Larry Estes has had a sod house in his backyard in Gates, Neb., for as long as he can remember. He never really thought anything about it until a year ago when a repairman asked him about it.

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A contuning challenge for ranchers
8:00 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Invasive weeds may look forward to climate change

Dr. Dana Blumenthal and colleagues explain their invasive weed research during a tour of The Prairie Heating and Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (PHACE) Experiment in Wyoming. In this test plot higher temperature and richer CO2 conditions are being simulated to study their effects on invasive weed growth.
Credit USDA: Prairie Heating and Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (PHACE) Experiment

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now: It will likely be warmer and the air will be richer with carbon dioxide. Though scientists don’t yet know how exactly the climate will change, new studies show it could be a boon to some invasive plant species.  

A growing problem

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