Terra Preta de Indio
Biochar Soil Management
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Research Program
Aim: The research program spans from increasing our basic understanding of nutrient and organic matter dynamics in different inorganic and organic pools of soil to nutrient pathways in agroecosystems. The focus of our research is to develop and provide applications for environmental-friendly management of landscapes. In temperate agroecosystems, the minimization of environmental pollution and off-site effects stands in the center of our work. In tropical ecosystems, the work focuses on replenishing soil fertility and combatting soil degradation. Basic principles of organic matter and nutrient dynamics in soil are an important part of our research. Advancing the science of soil biogeochemistry is important to understanding the global element cycling. Such work is linked to global environmental and climate change. The "hot topics" of our research are the investigation of nutrient and carbon dynamics as affected by black carbon (such as in Terra Preta de Indio in the Amazon), new insights into sulfur and carbon biogeochemistry in soil, nutrient and carbon dynamics in tropical forest and agricultural watersheds (especially the connection between terrestrial and aquatic environments), and the development of biochar soil management (including bio-energy) for improvement of infertile soils of the tropics and reduction of off-site pollution in industrialized countries (see more detailed description below and on other pages of this web site). We are making great efforts to explore the utility of advanced spectroscopic techniques using synchrotron radiation to the study of soils. In our research group we follow an interdisciplinary approach with cooperations across disciplines and outreach to both development and application.
Research Activities
Topic Ecosystem Location Status
Soil organic matter stabilization and chemistry (fundamental research using synchrotron based spectroscopy) various world-wide active
Conservation agriculture Smallholder agriculture Zambia active
Soil organic matter quality and poverty structures Smallholder agriculture Kenya active
Biogeochemistry of black carbon in soil: Terra Preta Tropical Rainforest Amazonia active
Nutrient management for Terra Preta (charcoal, bio-char) Bio-char agriculture Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Zambia active
Nutrient dynamics and losses in reduced impact logging Tropical Rainforest Brazil winding down
Organic nutrient losses by leaching Agroecosystem New York winding down
Biochemical cycling of sulfur in soil Grassland and agroecosystems Canada, Oregon, South Africa winding down
Root activity distribution and nutrient uptake Mountain rainforest Southern Ecuador winding down
Hydrophobicity of soil - origin, effects on hydrology and nutrient fluxes Pasture, Forest Amazon basin completed
Nutrient cycling and soil organic matter Mixed tree crop plantations Central Amazonia completed
Nutrient use efficiency and economic viability Fruit trees in runoff irrigation Northern Kenya completed
Nutrient cycling and root dynamics Runoff irrigated agroforestry Northern Kenya completed