Welcome to the Agroecology group!
The professorship for Agroecology deals with environmental issues related to the function and use of agricultural ecosystems. Our research focus is on biogeochemical processes in the rhizosphere of crops and on rhizodeposition as the driving force for carbon turnover and nutrient fluxes in arable soils.
Plants alter biological, chemical and physical processes in the soil surrounding their roots – in the rhizosphere. The release of organic compounds by living roots (rhizodeposition) plays a crucial role for carbon and nutrient turnover in the soil.
Our research concentrates on rhizodeposition as linkage of interactions between plants, soils and microorganisms. At different temporal and spatial scales, we study the importance of rhizodeposition for C and nutrient fluxes in soil. In climate chamber experiments, the small-scale distribution of C compounds along the roots (hotspots) is measured. Through the availability of C, hotspots create preferred habitats for microbes. The microbial activity is here much higher than in the adjacent soil. The roots of living plants can thereby strongly influence the intensity of soil organic matter decomposition and nutrient mobilization.
Rhizosphere effects are, therefore, crucial for the availability of nutrients in soil. This ecological function is particularly important with regard to sustainable and organic agriculture.
For agricultural ecosystems, the total amount of rhizodeposition is largely unknown. Our field trials, therefore, focus on the separation of different sources of soil CO2 and on the quantification of gross and net rhizodeposition.
The aim of our research is to learn more about rhizosphere effects and to gain a more comprehensive understanding of these effects on carbon and nutrient fluxes in agroecosystems.