Hung, Drawn and Quartered: a meadow season

Three images. First shows fieldworker weighing hay from a spring balance. Second shows an illustrator creating a digital drawing. Third shows dried hay samples divided into quarters.

Here endeth the second field season of my PhD, researching some fabulous floodplain meadows in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. I was fortunate to be able to complete a full field season this year after being curtailed by lockdowns in 2020. This year my research has been hung, drawn and quartered, which wasn’t nearly as painful as it sounds!

  • Hung (left image): Across both 2020 and 2021 I have cut 261 metre-square sample quadrats. Each one has been weighed in the field by hanging from a spring balance to obtain yield information before taking a subsample for analysis in the lab. In total I cut 277 kg of fresh hay for this study and sorted 80 kg of it into grasses and broadleaved species for analysis.
  • Drawn (middle image): I’ve learned a lot from working with experienced botanists in the Floodplain Meadows Partnership to draw a detailed Shoots to Roots diagram showing the rooting structures of a range of plant species that are common in these floodplain meadows. You can find this and a selection of my other SciArt over in the Gallery.
  • Quartered (right image): Once my field samples have been returned to the lab they are dried and coarse ground. Then they are quartered, before being fine ground and chemically digested for mineral analysis. The lab team have been a huge support in progressing this during the pandemic. Professor Lab Rat joined Captain Quad Rat to answer the question of how exactly I get minerals data out of my hay samples.

Here are some of the highlights along the way this summer:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: