Soils deliver a range of soil functions; primary productivity, nutrient cycling, a habitat for biodiversity, water regulation and purification and the breakdown of soil organic matter, which can contribute to climate regulation.
Soil biota play an important role in regulating and controlling many of the processes which support these five soil functions. Therefore we need to know which biological methods to apply, to be able to understand the role of soil biodiversity in soil functions. It is also important to know how these biological measures relate to the varying chemical and physical conditions found in soils and the effect of management and climate.
The Soil Biology Group of Wageningen University is organising a laboratory skills course to define which measurements of soil biology are relevant for which soil functions. This course will provide the participants with an overview of a range of methods related to the five soil functions and will provide detailed practical training in a subset of measures. The training will be a combination of lectures, laboratory and field sessions (interactive lectures and practical sessions each day). Assessing a range of measurement types, from simple visual assessments in the field, to training in microscope identification techniques for nematodes and earthworms, and functional measures in the lab such as MicroResp. All methods described in the course will be made available to participants as well as advice on how to analyse the data.