About my research…
My research program studies the effects of agricultural management practices (tillage and cropping systems) on the nature and dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM). We measure the organic C, N and P of the constituents SOM, including plant residues, microbial biomass, and humus. We have traced the flow of crop residue C, from microbial biomass into the stabilized SOM, and examined factors affecting soil C and N sequestration. Currently my students are conducting research on the chemistry of the persistent fraction of SOM, how formation of this fraction is affected by basic soil forming factors (topography, parent material) and varies in the soil profile (topsoil vs subsoil). We have constructed a model of SOM to simulate the effects of anthropogenic activities.
How my research improves life…
Soils have the potential to store and sequester C from the atmosphere as stable SOM (2-3 thousand years apparent age). Thus it is critical that we know the nature of this persistent SOM, and how agricultural management practices both promote its formation and reduce its loss. The pool of C as SOM in terrestrial soils is three times greater than the CO2-C in the atmosphere so there is tremendous potential, through adoption of innovative management practices, to regulate atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
Why chose grad studies at U of G?
My graduate program in SOM studies builds on key faculty expertise in the School of Environmental Sciences (two recent faculty hires in this area) and on the state-of-the-art analytical facilities contained in the Science Complex.