Announcements

Job offersmore »



Tweeting Growers

Top 5 - yesterday

  • No news has been published yesterday.

Top 5 - last week

Top 5 - last month

Exchange ratesmore »




UNH scientists get $1.5 million to investigate human impact on soil microbes

Soil microorganisms play a critical role in the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, which is a central factor in climate change. University of New Hampshire scientists have received $1.5 million in federal grants as part of an effort to better understand the physiology and genetics of these soil microbes, how human activity is altering them, and the implications for the global climate.

Two researchers supported by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, Serita Frey and Stuart Grandy, have received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to understand the genes that underlie how soil microorganisms use carbon. The DOE grant is part of a $2 million project led by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, while the USDA grant is part of a $2 million project led by Virginia Tech.


Autochambers at the UNH Organic Dairy Research Farm measure soil respiration.

“Soils breathe just like humans breathe—that is, soil microbes take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. Soil microbes add 10 times more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than fossil fuel emissions on an annual basis. However, under natural conditions this microbial release of carbon dioxide is balanced by plant uptake —microbes release carbon dioxide and plants take that up through photosynthesis. When humans disturb soil—through agricultural activities or climate change—soil microbes can add excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere” said Frey, professor of natural resources.

“We’re interested in understanding the factors that control microbial respiration—what causes them to lose more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere vs. what activities might do that in reverse, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Frey said, noting that there are about 200 billion microbes in a handful of soil.




Dr. Serita Frey and a graduate student collect soil samples for genomic analysis.

Globally surface soils have lost 25 to 50 percent of their carbon over the last 100 to 125 years during the period of intensive cultivation globally. This carbon is now in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. According to Frey, more effective soil management could reverse some of this loss by altering microbial processes to restore some of this soil carbon.

Incorporating these microbial processes into models allows scientists to evaluate the soil management practices that can restore soil carbon globally, said Grandy, associate professor of natural resources. Modeling is a key feature of these grants, allowing Frey and Grandy to assess the broader implications of variation in soil microbial communities.

In addition to funding the research, these grants will support several graduate and postdoctoral researchers, laboratory technicians, and undergraduates working in the Frey and Grandy labs. These grants are directly related to Frey and Grandy’s funding from the NH Agricultural Experiment Station and builds on their current experiment station grants. “Agricultural experiment station funding was critical in leveraging funding for these new projects,” Frey said.
 
For more information:
www.unh.edu

Publication date: 10/11/2016

 


 

Other news in this sector:

4/27/2017 Vietnam: Fertiliser businesses call for domestic protection
4/26/2017 Agriculture drives DuPont's sales and volume
4/26/2017 Yara reports increased deliveries but weaker margin
4/25/2017 Norway: Explosion and fire at Yara's Porsgrunn plant
4/20/2017 UK: AHDB announces new Nutrient Management Guide
4/19/2017 Romanian growers see higher yields thanks to biostimulants
4/18/2017 "Splitting nitrogen applications improves efficiency, stewardship"
4/14/2017 Earth Alive launches new organic root probiotic MMJ fertilizer
4/11/2017 The best starter fertilizers for organic growing
4/4/2017 US: $20M in funding for biocarbon product supplier
4/4/2017 US (CA): 58% yield increase in Nature's Source vineyard trial
4/3/2017 UAE: Scientists turn sewage sludge into farm-safe fertilizer
3/30/2017 Getting started with chemigation
3/30/2017 Looking for an organic fertilizer that can replace conventional hydroponic fertilizers?
3/29/2017 Fertigation: Fertilizing through irrigation
3/22/2017 US (NC): Phosphate discovery could increase plant yield
3/14/2017 Why a German lab is growing tomatoes in urine
3/13/2017 RPP certificate for Greenyard Horticulture
3/8/2017 France: Yara closes Pardies plant
2/3/2017 The benefits of fertigation and irrigation control