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INPLAMINT - Increasing agricultural nutrient-use efficiency by optimizing plant-soil-microorganism interactions

Dr. Rüdiger Reichel und Prof. Dr. Nicolas Brüggemann (coordinator)
Institut für Bio- und Geowissenschaften – Agrosphäre (IBG-3)
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Subproject A (FZJ) addresses the following scientific questions:

  • What is the potential of organic substrate amendments for immobilizing excess N after harvest and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in crop rotations?
  • What is the relationship between fertilization, plant legacy effects, nutrient stoichiometry, and greenhouse gas emissions?
  • What are the physicochemical drivers of greenhouse gas emissions at the soil-root interface at the millimeter scale?

For our research work, we make use of an existing long-term field trial at the LUFA Speyer (Germany, Fig.1), which helps us to evaluate the influence of different C inputs in concert with seasonal changes and additional mineral N fertilization levels (no, suboptimal, optimal, and surplus N) on the soil nutrient status and greenhouse gas emission potentials. We hypothesize that N losses such as nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions can be mitigated by controlling factors of C, N, and P cycling. Together with our microbial subproject partners form Cologne, Berlin, and Munich we hope to find new management strategies.

FieldFig. 1: IOSDV long-term field experiment of the LUFA in Speyer

Furthermore, we analyze a post-mining soil chronosequence with kind support of RWE Power AG (Germany; Fig. 2). After open-cast lignite mining, soil is continuously being restored to support later agricultural recultivation. The experimental site is located near Jülich (Germany). Here we aim to explore the development of the nutrient status and greenhouse gas emissions as a function of recultivation age from year zero up to 50 years after soil restoration. We attempt to filter out time-related factors that might help to estimate the retention potential of N in new agricultural land. We also focus on the initial recultivation period with alfalfa, evaluating its soil recovery potential and its implications for N2O and nitrate losses.

post-miningFig. 2: Post-mining recultivation site near Jülich (Germany).

More information on recultivation can be found here

Our group is also participating in the Kiel field experiment. We support our partners with a laboratory experiment (Fig. 3) in which the same soil and organic amendments are used together with application of 15N-labeled fertilizer to track the N immobilization and mineralization processes in soil. Here we evaluate the potential of soil organic amendments with different C quality to mitigate N losses that mainly occur between harvest and crop establishment in the following spring. This experiment supports our partners from Kiel and Lüneburg, which conduct experiments on the same topic with plants under field and mesocosm conditions.

Soil ColumnsFig. 3: Soil columns with headspace for gas sampling, a soil column with six sampling sections, and the opportunity for leachate sampling.