New project on low impact solar energy development in agricultural and rangeland systems

Chong Seok Choi (graduate student) installing sensors at one of our sites: a grassland in Chisago, MN.

This project will investigate low-impact solar designs by exploring the feasibility of agricultural/range co-location opportunities at multiple test sites. This project will provide critical data on microclimate, soil hydrological processes, vegetation community composition, and nutrient dynamics to inform developers, landowners, and state agencies to facilitate widespread deployment. This is collaborative research project with NREL & ENEL. (Funding from DoE)

Lab Publication: Wang et al. (2018) in Ecosystems

Wang et al. (2018) in Ecosystems show that prescribed fire facilitates the remobilization of nutrient-enriched soil from shrub microsites to grass and bare microsites and thereby reduces the spatial heterogeneity of soil resources in a grassland encroached by shrubs in the Chihuahuan desert.


Wang*., G., J. Li,   S. RaviD. Dukes*, H. Gonzales*, and J. Sankey (2018), Post-fire redistribution of  soil carbon and nitrogen at a grassland-shrubland ecotone, Ecosystems,  [Springer, IF: 4.2]

Lab publication: Gonzales et al. in Ecohydrology (2018)

Gonzales et al. in Ecohydrology (2018) used a computational fluid dynamics modeling approach to investigate the sediment trapping efficiencies of vegetation canopies in a grassland encroached by shrubs and related the results to spatial heterogeneity in soil texture and infiltration.


Gonzales*, H., S. Ravi, J, Li and J. Sankey (2018), Ecohydrological implications of  sediment trapping by sparse vegetation in drylands: A CFD approach, Ecohydrology,

Undergrad publication – Trifunovic et al. (2018)

Interesting paper by Branimir (Undergraduate research assistant, BS Environmental Science 2017)

Large‐scale application of biochar has been promoted as a strategy for improving soil quality in agricultural and contaminated lands, as biochar has the potential to alter soil physical and biogeochemical properties. Biochar at different concentrations has been shown to have inconsistent effects on soil hydrological properties, yet the cause of the inconsistency is not well understood. Trifunovic et al., investigated the relative roles of biochar size and concentration on hydraulic properties of a model geomedia.

Congrats Branko ! Branimir is currently a graduate student (Department of Plant & Soil) at the University of Delaware


Trifunovic, B., Gonzales, H.,  S. Ravi, and B. Sharratt (2018), Dynamic effects of biochar concentration and particle size on hydraulic properties of biochar – amended sand, Land Degradation & Development29(4), 884-893 [Wiley, IF: 9.8]

New Publication: Li & Ravi (2018)

Li & Ravi (2018) in J. Arid Environ. (Elsevier) – The grain-size distribution and the saturated hydraulic conductivity are heterogeneous for the dune-interdune system with different morphological features suggesting that the relative contributions of aeolian and hydrological processes are distinct in the evolution of nebkhas.

Li, J., and S. Ravi (2018), Interactions among hydrological-aeolian processes and vegetation determine grain-size distribution of sediments in a semi-arid coppice dune (nebkha) system, J. Arid Environments, 154, 24-33. [Elsevier, IF: 2.3]

New Publication -Dukes et al. 2018 (Graduate student)

New publication by David Dukes (MS, Geology 2018) in Journal of Geophysical Research (American Geophysical Union/Wiley) investigated the applicability of a novel tracer technique—the use of multiple rare earth elements (REE)—to quantify aeolian sediment transport and to identify sources and sinks of sediments in fire-affected landscapes. David’s study presents a first step toward developing a valuable tool to monitor the ecogeomorphic response of these landscapes to changing climate, disturbance, and management scenarios. Congrats David !

David is currently a PhD student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Dukes, D., H. Gonzales, S. Ravi, D. Grandstaff,  J. Li, J. Sankey, G. Wang, and S. Van Pelt (2018), Quantifying post-fire aeolian sediment transport using rare earth element tracers,  J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosciences, doi:10.1002/2017JG004284. [American Geophysical Union & Wiley, IF: 3.4]


American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, New Orleans, LA, December 2017.

  • Choi, C., J. Macknick and S. Ravi, Opportunities for co-location of solar PV with agriculture for cost reductions and carbon, water, and energy footprint mitigation in the tropics, American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, New Orleans, LA, December 2017.
  • Cagle, A., C. S. Choi, S. Ravi , J. Macknick, and R. Bickhart, Impacts of Solar PV Arrays on Physicochemical Properties of Soil, American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, New Orleans, LA, December 2017.
  • Wang, G., J. Li, S. Ravi, D. Dukes, H. Gonzales, J. Sankey and S. van Pelt, Effects of Fire on the Plant-Soil Interactions in Northern Chihuahuan Desert, American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, New Orleans, LA, December 2017.

Field research in Indonesia

Graduate student Chong Seok Choi conducting research in Bogor, Indonesia on the opportunities to incorporate micro-scale renewable (solar) energy into existing cropping systems. The project goal is develop colocated crop-solar PV systems to maximize the efficiency of agricultural land along with providing several co-benefits (rural electrification, employment generation, energy for processing agricultural commodities locally)