Student subjects

In the soil hydro physics lab there are regularly possibilities to do a master thesis project or a research practice project. In the following you can read about some potential topics, you will get more information on the topics and the contact persons for those topics by clicking on the links in the text/ pdfs. This is just a selection of possibilities, in case you are interested in doing a thesis or research project here, please contact Loes van Schaik for an orientation discussion.

Improving soil hydrology with organic amendments and earthworms

Climate change leads to more frequent drought and high intensity rainfall events. In recent years, arable production suffered from both, with droughts being particularly impactful on sandy soils. Innovations are needed to prevent freshwater reserves from being depleted and crop production from being water-limited. Against this background we wish to design measures to improve infiltration and soil water retention through selective amendment of organic matter that promotes soil water. However, we do not know which quality of organic matter is particularly effective in promoting soil water retention. Additionally earthworms in combination with organic matter might speed up soil structure formation and enhance the influence of organic amendments on soil water retention. In this thesis study, you will design an experimental set-up to test several types of organic matter and or earthworm compositions on their capacity to improve soil water retention. Information

Use of salts for pF measurements

For many types of Soil Physical measurements to be compared properly, the soil should be brought to a certain pF value. This can for example be done at a sandbox or in in a pressure chamber. However, these methods are often not suitable for soil samples that are in the form of aggregates of other shapes. In literature the option is proposed to use a salt solution in a closed chamber and to use Vapor Equilibration to bring soil samples to a certain pF value. First experiments in our Soil Hydro Physics laboratory have been done and give promising results. further development of this method could be a master thesis topic. Information

K050- unsaturated conductivity measurement

Unsaturated hydraulic conductivity is difficult to measure. A new measurement set up has been developed to measure the hydraulic conductivity at small suctions ( 50cm<h<0cm). This set up has still to be tested in the laboratory. For a student interested in soil physical measurement methods this would be a nice bachelor or master topic. Information


Microplastics in urban environments

Microplastics cause a high degree of concern worldwide, since they are poorly controlled. This pollutant is studied a lot in aquatic environments and more recently also agricultural soils. However, there are few studies involving microplastics in urban spaces. In this context, there are still various potential research questions for a bachelor or master student, such as quantification of the local distribution of microplastics according to different vegetation characteristics or improvement of the laboratory methods for extraction and quantification of microplastics. Information