In 2013 I moved from my roots in Boxtel (a village in Brabant) to Nijmegen for my Bachelor Biology. At the start of my study I thought that I was mostly interested in medical biology. However, I soon discovered that ecology triggered my true passion in biology. During my Master I continued to specialize in both plant and insect communities working together making a beautiful and yet fragile ecosystem. As a member of the education committee of my study association and student assistant during practicals of the students I always had an affiliation with teaching and education. However, during my internships I really enjoyed doing research, both in nature and agricultural context. That is why I decided to do apply for a PhD because I am driven to answer ecological questions with reliable research.
Road verge cuttings as green fertilizer and soil quality improver
During my research, my main aim is to investigate the soil processes that occur in agricultural soil after applying road verge cuttings. The cuttings could improve soil quality greatly. It will increase the organic matter content which will increase nutrient retention, water retention, soil biodiversity and (via mineralization and decomposition processes) could also decrease the need for artificial fertilizer. Nutrient cycles between agricultural land and semi-natural habitats (road verges) will then be closed. The application of these cuttings can therefore both facilitate efficient crop production and minimize negative effects from agricultural practices on the environment. This research is necessary because we do not now the specific soil processes that occur after application of the cuttings. The lack of scientific reliable data on these processes prevents this application to be widely used in the Netherlands. Several experiment, including a large scale multi-site field experiment, will both generate new insights in soil biology and can advise the Dutch government, provinces and water boards on how to use these cuttings in the future.