Soil Biology

Soil Biology

In our current research we focus on 3 themes.

Fertile soils

This theme is about functioning and management of the soil biota in food production systems. This theme was recently boosted by the DGIS-funded COS-SIS program (a follow-up to the successful COS-1 INREF program) and the INREF-funded Terra Preta (Amazonian dark earths) program.

Soil biodiversity

This theme is about conservation and utilization of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. This theme was recently boosted by a grant from the ministries of Agriculture and Environment to found the International Project Office of the agroBIODIVERSITY network of DIVERSITAS, the International Organization for Biodiversity Science.

Soils in a changing climate

This theme is about the effects of the soil biota on the greenhouse gas balance of the soil and on maintaining soil quality. The theme results from a prestigious personal VIDI grant from NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, awarded to Dr. Jan-Willem van Groenigen.

Rhizosphere
Rhizosphere

Soil biota (including roots and mycorrhiza) are important in supplying plants with nutrients. Since nutrients also interact with the solid soil matrix our research focus s on soil biological – soil chemical interactions.

Soil biodiversity: quality indicator
Soil biodiversity: quality indicator

Biodiversity in agricultural landscapes may be considered an asset for both agricultural production and the conservation and use of non-commodity species. Biodiversity affects ecosystem services. We investigate the wider role of biodiversity in view of the risks associated with the loss of such services.

Greenhouse gas sampling
Greenhouse gas sampling

Soils are an important methane source, and by far the largest nitrous oxide source. Emissions of these gases are largely controlled by the soil biota (including roots). Our first challenge is therefore to understand these biotic processes and the many trade-offs and feedbacks that control them.