Thesis subject

Impacts of agricultural measures on crop yields, soil quality and environment

The Environmental Systems Analysis Group provides the possibility for students to do their thesis in collaboration with our group. This is one of many possible thesis subjects. Please feel free to contact professor De Vries, Dr Ros or Ms Young MSc (right) for more information.

Soil supports crop production, is an important buffer of environmental pollution by agro-chemicals, and represents the largest terrestrial carbon stock. For soil fertility, both macro- and micronutrient contents are important indicators, and soil organic carbon content is essential for assessing carbon stocks, particularly in relation to the threats of climate change and soil organic matter decline. Agricultural management can greatly influence both crop yields, soil quality, e.g., the accumulation of soil carbon (C),  nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) and the environment by losses of C, N, and P to air and water. Management additionally affects other processes influencing soil quality such as soil erosion and compaction,

The aims of MSc theses related to this topic is a quantification of impacts of agronomic management measures on either: (i) crop yields/ nutrient uptake and nutrient use efficiencies, (ii) soil quality, such as the soil carbon or phosphorous balance or soil compaction or (iii) nitrogen losses to air and water, based on published scientific field studies via meta-analytical techniques. The aim of each study is to identify most promising mitigation options via agricultural management, accounting for differences in agro-ecosystem properties. A distinction will be made in  meta-analysis, while distinguishing  agro-ecological conditions affecting the impacts and meta-regression, accounting explicitly for those agro-ecological conditions in a meta-regression model. The thesis is part of an overall PhD trajectory focused on the identification of relevant sustainability indicators with respect to crop growth/soil quality (aim is improvement) and environmental impacts (aim is reduction) that can be linked to management.