Welcome to the Soil Physics Group!
The soil is the thin interface between the earth and the atmosphere, it plays a central role in the water and carbon cycle, it supports the life of myriads of microorganisms and the growth of plants. Such soil functions depend on complex physical processes that occur at varying spatial and temporal scales. Our interest is to extend our understanding of the physics of such processes and their impact on the ecosystem.
A prominent example of the importance and complexity of soil physical processes is the interface between soil and plant roots – the rhizosphere. All the water transpired by plants (which is 50% of the terrestrial precipitation!) has to cross this thin layer of soil, which is dynamically modified by plant roots and associated microorganisms. Our interest is to understand the physics of soil-root interactions and their impact on the water, carbon and energy cycle. Our hypothesis is that small-scale processes at the root-soil interface are functional to sustain plant growth and tolerance to abiotic stresses, such as drought. We approach this and other soil physical challenges developing new experimental and numerical methods.