Soil Fertility – University of Copenhagen

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Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences > Research > Plant and Soil Science > Soil Fertility

Soil Fertility

The Soil Fertility research group has a strong tradition for research on biological soil fertility and the influence of organic matter decomposition processes on nutrient turnover in temperate and tropical agro-ecosystems. A particular focus area has been the interaction between plant and soil in the root rhizosphere, as well as the role of the soil microbial biomass in determining nutrient availability.

With the exponential growth of industrialised animal production, both in developed countries like Denmark and in many developing countries (e.g. in SE Asia), animal manure is becoming a major waste product, requiring safe, sustainable and sanitary management for sustainable recycling of nutrients and organic matter.

Urban waste management approaches are also undergoing rapid changes, which have particular impacts on nutrient cycling opportunities in both industrialised and lesser developed countries. When waste is utilised on arable land, its fertiliser value and effects on soil quality should be optimised and negative effects on the environment should be minimised.

Land use-soil quality interactions is a key to understanding sustainability of fragile agricultural systems, and the research focus includes reduced tillage and shifting cultivations systems. More recently, our research on carbon stocks has been expanded to include greenhouse gas emissions from various production systems, mainly in Southeast Asia.

Resource constraints - particularly land, nutrients and water – are posing a new challenge in ensuring global food production. Our research aims at targeting these societal challenges at the mechanistic level in the pursuit of increased nutrient use efficiency and reduced environmental impact from agriculture in the 21st century.

Photo: Lennart Søgård-Høyer