Adding organic amendments to soils enhances soil health and fertility, and can also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Shortly after their application, organic amendments are mineralised by the soil biological community and a portion of the carbon is respired as carbon dioxide (catabolism), leaving the remainder to build biomass (anabolism). The ratio anabolism to catabolism is mediated by the Carbon Use Efficiency (CUE) of the soil biological community. The greatest benefit will be achieved by maximising the amount of carbon that becomes the soil biological biomass and subsequently the dead biological biomass (necromass) which has the capability to become stable soil organic matter (SOM). This project will use experimental methods to explore whether the CUE of soils can be manipulated to maximise the proportion of organic amendments that become stable SOM.
The project will investigate the fate of organic amendments and to develop recommendations on how SOM can be increased. It could use a range of experimental strategies including the mixing of chemically contrasting amendments, fermenting amendments, and exploiting legacy effects to manipulate the CUE of soil biological communities.
Applicants are encouraged from an environmental science, biological sciences or chemistry background. They should have a 2.1 degree and ideally have undertaken an MS in a subject relevant to this project. While remaining with the scope of this project, applicants are invited to shape a proposal to meet their own interests and expertise.