Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas and the dominant ozone-depleting substance in the stratosphere. It is predominantly produced by microbial activity, 45% of which is from agriculture (Syakila, 2011). Microbial activity is influenced by soil moisture, nutrient status and many other physico-chemical processes. It has been observed that soil conditions prior to fertiliser application can impact microbial activity particularly soil moisture and nutrient status. The latter is affected by the historical management of soil, particularly cultivation, application of inorganic vs organic fertiliser and crop characteristics.
With the world population predicted to reach 9.1billion in 2050, the increasing demand for foods has put unpreceded pressure on our land to be more productive. However, current technologies for agricultural production is unsustainable, needing high input in energy and fertilisers. Developing sustainable agriculture is hence crucial in the next two decades, a key issue in which is to improve the use efficiency of soil resources.
The phosphorus cycle is arguably the most important elemental cycle in natural and agricultural systems, yet still there are many gaps in our knowledge of it, not least the role of transient, gaseous forms of phosphorus such as phosphine. Tantalising evidence exists suggesting it is an important transformation pathway in soils and other substrates. Working with both academic experts and the research team at Elemental Digest Systems Ltd. (EDS), this project provides a unique opportunity to investigate this enigmatic topic, exploring a range of natural soil systems and sources of phosphorus (including EDS’s own fertiliser).
Climate change and shifting pests: will the Clover Root Weevil develop as a major pest of white clover in the UK?
Legumes are one of the most important components of grassland systems. They provide a range of ecosystem services, including soil structuring, nitrogen fixation and providing resources for pollinators. Legumes are subject to attrition from many soil dwelling pests. The changing climate means that the development of such pests may change so that, for example, multiple generations per year will be possible. Working with a multi-disciplinary supervisory team of leading scientists from the UK and New Zealand, this PhD will determine the ecophysiological requirements of the Clover Root Weevil, a major pest of temperate grassland systems, and model the potential impact of a changing climate on the pest and its impact on N-fixation and legume sustainability in grassland systems.