The DIRT (Detrital Input and Removal Treatments) were started in 1956 at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum by Dr. Francis Hole, a soil scientist who wanted to examine the effects changing litter inputs on soil organic matter dynamics. We have grown since then!
Despite the critical roles played by soil organic matter (SOM) within ecosystems, in the global C cycle and in the Earth’s climate system, controls on SOM balances in ecosystems remain poorly understood. Temperature, soil mineralogy, and land management all play a role in the balance between SOM stabilization and destabilization, but the degree to which plant litter quality and quantity affect soil C sequestration is less well known. To address this knowledge gap, the international DIRT network was established to assess how rates and sources of plant litter inputs control the long-term stability, accumulation, and chemical nature of soil organic matter in forested ecosystems over decadal time scales. Sites span climatic and soil gradients, and we always welcome new colleagues and new sites.
We try to sample soils every 5-10 years, and at each of these anniversaries we welcome scientists with unique tools and questions to join us. Come play in DIRT!