Summer on a Shoestring

Me, Myself, and an 882g Bag of Ammonium Nitrate
June 12, 2014, 2:47 am
Filed under: Fertilization

By: Dominic A. Forlini – Miami University (OH)

The Summer of 2014 marks my first hands-on involvement with the MELNHE project…

I had just finished snorkeling through the gorgeous coral reefs followed by sun bathing on the pearly sand beaches of San Salvador, Bahamas during a Tropical Marine Ecology Study Abroad Program, when I suddenly found myself among the White Mountains of New Hampshire measuring a plethora of ammonium nitrate and phosphorus fertilizers for spreading the following week. Twice as much fertilizer was weighed at once this year for us to only do a one time application. We are trying to reduce trampling in the MELNHE plots.



Figure 1: 882 g of ammonium nitrate for a 10×10 m buffer area. Twice the amount of N than normal.


I do not have the physique of a marathon runner, nor am I projected to be selected number one overall in this years’ upcoming NBA draft. I’m stocky, broad-shouldered, built like a Panzer tank, and currently, I am showcasing an ever so scraggly bearded face. If you were to have seen me walking on the side of the road recently, you might have misfired your bear hazing rubber bullets at me on accident. I feel as though I have an inert spiritual connection to the bear species as a whole. My temptations are high. This summer, one of my goals is to catch eyesight with a black bear. Growing up in a suburb of Cleveland, OH, we don’t have many bears; to the date, I have not seen one in person.


Figure 2: Ammonium nitrate on the forest floor after application. It is easier to see now that we applied double the amount

Monday morning, June 9th, our first day of fertilizing. Specifically, I was assigned to the group headed to the C7 plots in Bartlett. We gathered the appropriate bags of fertilizer and rode out to our respective plot. After the process of fertilizing was explained and plot dimensions where observed, the application of N and P became uniform. We finished the P plot. Then, we finished the N:P plot. As we were gathering our tools, in order to move on the the third and final N plot, Eli, an undergraduate from Cornell who had previously gone onto the N plot to start buffer fertilization, cried out with a mixed sense of fear and excitement “Guys there’s a bear in the plot… and he has Dom’s backpack!” Needless to say, Eli is a pretty funny guy, and initially we perceived his antics to be strictly humor driven. Then we saw the bear. We also couldn’t find my backpack. At this point of realization, I had felt vulnerable to the bear’s will. In my backpack, I had my passport, ink stamp still fresh from BahamasAir customs, and my wallet; Wallets are kind of important. I have no explanation as to why I had such personal values stored in my backpack at this time, but now they were in the possession of our friend, Mr. Black Bear. Irrelevant to the mindset of a bear, my passport and wallet were the least of his worries. More than likely, he was on an epic quest to savor over the pepperoni sriracha sandwich, which I had prepared for lunch earlier that day. After Eli’s rallying call was heeded, we rushed to the N plot. As we sought recon on the bear, to our belief, my precious backpack was neither in the jaws nor claws of the furry beast. I could only hope that we would eventually find my belongings, and that they had not been demolished by the bear’s feeding frenzy. We searched, and found nothing. We kept searching, and luckily my olive green, basically camouflaged backpack, was found on a disheveled pile of leaf litter along with a sheared bag of ammonium nitrate, my passport, wallet, and a sriracha stained sandwich bag with no sandwich.


Figure 3: Part of the crew fertilizing. Applying twice as much did not slow us down.

So to sum up, my desires of catching eyesight with my distant cousin the black bear were satisfied, and now, I don’t carry my passport or wallet in my backpack while fertilizing. Thanks for reading!

~ Dominic


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: