Fighting drought - Improving soil properties through artificial carbonaceous substances
Project descriptionAgriculture is highly dependent on fertile soils. However, agricultural systems are also the main cause of soil and environmental degradation. In particular, the hydrological function of the soil, such as water holding capacity, is impaired by agricultural use and cultivation. This degradation in turn inhibits microorganisms that, for example, regulate the nutrient cycle, break down organic matter, determine soil structure and plant productivity. The addition of artificially produced carbonaceous substances to the soil is one way of counteracting soil degradation. Carbonaceous substances increase the water holding capacity, nutrient binding and nutrient recovery by the soil microbial community, so that a sustainably high productivity is likely.
This project, conducted in collaboration with an organic farm, aims to quantify the impact of artificial carbonaceous substances on plant productivity. We will investigate i) which physical soil properties are improved by their application of these substances, produced from fermentation residues, ii) how biological activity is influenced, ultimately responsible for plant nutrient utilization and organic matter storage in the soil, and iii) whether artificial carbonaceous substances from fermentation residues increase nutrient utilization compared to untreated residues.
The PhD candidate will analyze the impact of artificial carbonaceous substances on physical soil properties (e.g., water holding capacity), the activity and composition of the soil microbial community, the nutrient recovery and nutrient status of the soil, and the plant productivity. This will be achieved through repeated field measurements and an accompanied isotopic tracer experiment to investigate the nutrient and carbon flows between soil microorganisms and plants.
Working groupMolecular Biogeochemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
RequirementsApplications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to well-motivated and highly-qualified students from all countries. For this particular PhD project we seek a candidate with
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