Soil ecosystem services of peat meadows (PhD J. Deru)
Peat meadows in the the Netherlands form a unique landscape, in terms of agriculture, ecology and biodiversity. Due to drainage, a net loss of organic matter is taking place leading to soil subsidence and greenhouse gas emissions. To counter these problems and find sustainable ways to maintain agricultural production and biodiversity, indicators are needed for evaluating land management effects.
SQUASH a Soil Quality Universally Applicable Soil Health assessment system (PhD C. Vazquez Martin - NWO-Green)
Soil quality indicators (SQIs) will be developed that can be applied in a soil quality assessment system (SQUASH) to predict the status of ecosystem services related to land-use. The development of the SQIs will be based on a new to develop general concept that relates soil biodiversity with ecosystem functioning. SQUASH will make use of these newly developed SQIs. To link ecosystem functioning to the SQIs in SQUASH, support vector machines will be used.
FertilCrop Managing fertility building in organic cropping systems (EU CoreOrganic)
The project addresses sustainable crop management techniques that will make efficient use of the interface to other plants, to the structured and stratified soil matrix, to beneficial microorganisms, and to the C and N cycle. The contribution of SOQ will be the assessment of soil biodiversity of earthworms and nematodes, and the visualisation and quantification of the contribution of macrofauna to soil structure (X-ray tomography).
iSQAPER Novel indicators of soil quality for agricultural management (PhD G. Bongiorno - EU HORIZON 2020)
Novel soil quality indicators will be developed and their performance in the assessment of soil quality in agro-ecosystems investigated. We will measure dissolved organic carbon quantity and quality using fractionation into hydrophobic and hydrophilic compounds, and determination of aromaticity, nematode & mycorrhizal diversity using high-throughput sequencing and quantitative PCR, and soil disease suppression. These parameters will be related to soil functions.
Vital Soils for sustainable intensification of agriculture (PhD G. Koorneef - NWO-Green)
Compared to organic farming, intensive conventional farming results in high yields, but reduces soil biodiversity. There are indications that with time yields in organic farming increase. We aim at unravelling the biological, chemical and physical mechanisms underlying the increased yields in organically managed soil with time, testing how transition from conventional to organic farming can be accelerated, and what are predictors of successful soil transformation.
Preferably earthworms to pandas in the province of Gelderland (TopLaag Gelderland)
Demonstration projects will be started at commercial agricultural fields to indicate the contribution of earthworms to the soil functions humus formation, soil structure formation, and water cycling. Students from agricultural and applied sciences universities will be involved in the experiments. Knowledge will be exchanged with local stake-holders.