Are you passionate about soil chemistry in relation to sustainable food production systems? Do you have an MSc degree in soil chemistry, environmental chemistry, (bio)geochemistry, environmental science, or a related discipline? Then this PhD position may be the perfect opportunity for you!
The chair group of Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality
at Wageningen University offers a PhD position in the SoilProS project (Soil Biodiversity analyses for Sustainable Production Systems) financed by NWO-TTW (Perspectief program).Project description:
Current agricultural practices largely bypass the role of biota and biodiversity in soils. The result is that food production systems do not sufficiently value the importance of soil biodiversity, increasingly emit greenhouse gases and nutrients, while being poorly buffered against drought and rainfall events, and soil-borne diseases. Restoring these important functions of soils is currently less limited by what we can measure than by how to interpret the data. The restoration of these soil functions requires interventions
e.g. through addition of soil amendments (organic substrates, lime), inoculation with microorganisms, application of plant mixtures, etc.
In the SoilProS project, 7 PhD candidates, one Postdoc and three technicians at 6 institutes (WUR, UvA, NIOO, UT, UU and HAS) will closely work together within the fields of soil biodiversity, soil chemistry, microbial ecology and artificial intelligence (AI) supported by a broad range of stakeholders from governmental bodies to various companies in the agricultural sector. The Soil Chemistry group at WUR will hire one out of the 7 PhD students (PhD 6), who will examine the impact of interventions (see above) on soil functions such as soil carbon storage, soil structure, nutrient supply, filter function and soil resilience. PhD 6 will focus on physical and chemical soil properties and will closely collaborate with fellow PhD 7 at the University of Amsterdam who will focus on biological soil properties. The mechanistic insights regarding the interventions obtained in laboratory and greenhouse studies will provide input for the AI approach of the overall project geared towards a soil specific enhancement of soil sustainability.
The PhD candidate will be based at Wageningen University, at the chair group of Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality. The candidate will closely collaborate with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Technical University of Twente, the Centre for Soil Ecology, SoilProS stakeholders, and other national and international initiatives.PhD 6: Soil chemical mechanisms involved in improving soil functions
You will perform experiments (among other in mesocosms, in collaboration with PhD 7) to elucidate the mechanisms by which interventions (see above) improve soil functions. You will examine the impact of interventions on 1) carbon storage in terms of soil carbon pools of different stability, 2) the formation and stability of soil aggregates, 3) the speciation and bioavailability of nutrients in soils, 4) the leaching fluxes of nutrients and contaminants from the rootzone, and 5) the resilience of soils in preserving their functions against drought, heat and intense rainfall.
For examining these effects, a variety of experimental and modelling strategies will be employed including batch and column experiments, mesocosm experiments as well as chemical speciation and reactive transport modelling.