Research in the Soil Physics Laboratory

The Soil Physics Lab is used for different kinds of research. On this page you will find a selection of recent and current lab-related research.

Reference Samples for soil physics measurements

In close collaboration with University of Liege, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, the Soil Physics Laboratory is trying to develop reference samples that could allow us to cross check our measuring techniques, perform quality controls and detect abnormal discrepancies between devices.

Reference Samples.jpg

Click here for more information ...

Biochar

Application of biochar to the soil has been shown to increase soil fertility and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the soil while also sequestering carbon. But what are the mechanisms behind such observed effects and how do they influence soil properties? This research aims to provide robust explanations that can help to maximise the benefits of biochar application to soil while minimising the potential risks.

Biochar
Biochar

Biochar is a charcoal like substance which is produced by heating organic “feedstocks” to temperatures in excess of 350°C in an oxygen free environment.

Click here for more information ...


Lab, field versus Remote Sensing

Clay soils have the specific property to swell upon wetting and shrink when drying out. This causes very small, but measureable, soil surface elevation, which can be linked to the soil water content. Driven by a need to measure soil water storage on large scales and with a high resolution, Bram te Brake of the Soil Physics and Land Management group of Wageningen University, currently studies the possibilities to measure clay swell and shrinkage on large scales to estimate soil water storage change. The nested scales of the soil physical processes involved ask for an innovative combination of small scale laboratory measurements, field data collection and remote sensing techniques.

Bram6.jpg

Click here for more information ...


Earthworms increase greenhouse-gas emissions

Earthworms play an essential part in determining the greenhouse-gas balance of soils worldwide, and their influence is expected to grow over the next decades. They are thought to stimulate carbon sequestration in soil aggregates, but also to increase emissions of the main greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Hence, it remains highly controversial whether earthworms predominantly affect soils to act as a net source or sink of greenhouse gases. This research of Ingrid Lubbers, Lijbert Brussaard and Jan Willem van Groenigen is published in Nature Climate Change.

wurmen.jpg

Read the article here ...



Exploring the relationship between soil mesofauna, soil structure and N2O emissions.

We analysed soil structural parameters using X-ray tomography to explain the role of soil mesofauna in nitrous oxide emissions (N2O) from agricultural soil. The experiment was set up in the Soil Physics Laboratory:

Click here for more information....

Soil Hydro-Physics sampling site more accurate with sensor technology.

The Dutch Soil Information System (SIS), which is part of the Key Registration Subsurface (BRO), includes a representative database of Soil Hydro-Physics (ShP) data of the Netherlands. The Soil, Water, Land use team of Wageningen Environmental Research (WENR) has been busy updating this data in the past year. This includes field sampling and analyzing new samples in the lab. The sampling locations are usually selected based on existing soil maps and profile data in BRO/SIS. To improve this methodology and to make it smarter, sensor technology has been used. An important goal for 2016 was sampling of heavy-loam soils, because their representation in the BRO is relatively low.

Click here for more information.....