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Towards a mechanistic understanding of how interventions for improving soil health affect physical and chemical soil properties.

  • 1 October, 2023
  • Wageningen University, Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality
  • prof.dr. R.N.J. Comans
  • dr.ing. G.F. Koopmansdr. W.D.C. Schenkeveld

Healthy soils are essential for diverse ecosystem functions and productive agriculture, playing a crucial role in nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and water filtration thanks to soil biodiversity. However, current agricultural practices often disregard the role of soil biota, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient release, and vulnerability to drought, heavy rainfall events, and soil-borne diseases. Intensive agriculture has resulted in soil degradation, posing challenges to maintaining soil health. Understanding the complex interactions between soil processes, microbial populations, and agricultural practices is critical for establishing successful methods for improving soil ecosystem services and increasing resilience.
The PhD position within the SoilProS project will focus on investigating soil chemical mechanisms underlying the measures to improve soil functions in sustainable production systems. The project aims to explore the impact of interventions, such as soil amendments, plant mixtures, and microorganism inoculation, on key soil properties, including carbon storage, soil structure, nutrient supply, leaching fluxes, and soil resilience. Different approaches will be utilized, including batch and column experiments, mesocosm studies, chemical speciation and reactive transport modeling, to gain mechanistic insights into how these interventions enhance soil functions, contributing to soil health and sustainability.

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Alessia Corbetta

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