Earthworm-enhanced phosphorus availability in soil
Phosphorus (P) is essential for plant growth, but most of the P in soils is not available for plant uptake as it binds strongly to mineral soil constituents. Additionally, the use of P in agriculture is complicated by a growing demand for food and thereby P. Furthermore, the reserves of mineral P fertiliser are declining, while inadequate use of P fertilisers can pose high environmental risks of polluting ground- and surface waters. These challenges enforce us to increase agricultural productivity while using mineral P fertiliser in a more sustainable manner, for instance by accessing soil P pools that are less available to plants. Earthworms are known to increase the availability of P in their casts, and in my thesis I explored their role in sustaining optimal P acquisition for plants by unravelling the mechanisms of earthworm-enhanced P-availability and assessing its significance for practice.