Improve nutrient-use efficiency in agro-ecosystems
One of the challenges of this century is to sustainably meet the needs of the growing world population. Increased food production goes along with an increased nutrient demand for crops. Severe problems arise when too little or too much nutrients are added to agro-ecosystems. Using the most recent tools from plant and soil sciences, the Group of Plant Nutrition unravels mechanisms controlling nutrient cycles in the soil plant system, in order to contribute to the development of agricultural systems that maximize nutrient use efficiency and limit nutrient losses to the environment.
We study abiotic and biotic processes determining the availability of nutrients for plants. Besides classical methods, we use in our research radioactive and stable isotopes, mycorrhizal cultures, molecular markers and enzymatic methods. Research projects address nutrient-limited and nutrient-rich situations in the temperate and tropical zone and consider interactions between different nutrients. In nutrient-poor systems we elaborate biological approaches to alleviate phosphorus and nitrogen limitations while in nutrient-rich systems the focus is on optimizing nutrient recycling to crops.
Microbial functions in nutrient dynamics, with emphasis on nutrient mineralization, immobilization and the role of enzymes
Functional diversity of myccorhizal fungi
Use of 18O to assess P fluxes and processes at ecosystem level
Role of abiotic processes in phosphorus and heavy metals cycling
Phosphorus and nitrogen (re-)cycling in agro-ecosystems: Use of nutrients contained in animal manure, plant residues and recycling fertilizers
Nutrient cycles and eco-efficiency: integrated nutrient management, conservation agriculture, organic farming, nutrient cycles and biodiversity in agro-ecosystems
Plant and microbial ecology