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Working Groups

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Contribution to ZALF research

Comprising seven working groups at present, Research Area 1 “Landscape Functioning” is performing knowledge-oriented research on deepening our understanding of processes, cause-and-effect relationships and causal chains as well as the interactions within and among the different landscape elements such as cropland, grassland, waterbodies and forests. In this context, memory effects must also be considered, i.e. mid- to long-term effects of previous actions or interventions in agricultural landscapes. Research activities in Research Area 1 include the detection and analysis of new phenomena, the continuous improvement and development of research methods as well as the analysis of process dynamics by coupling data with models.

The research activities and results of the individual working groups will be synthesised under the umbrella of the future excellence topic “Crop-Production Feedbacks on C and N Dynamics in Agricultural Landscapes”. Its main aim is to enhance our understanding of biogeochemical cycles in agricultural landscapes and to supply results for the development of sustainable land management systems in Research Areas 2 and 3. Regarding questions of scaling, Research Area 1 closely collaborates with the ZALF Research Platforms “Data” and “Models & Simulation” as well as with Research Area 3 “Landscape Research Synthesis”. As a part of the Experimental Infrastructure Platform, the AgroScapeLab Quillow provides a central platform for experiments and research at the field and landscape scales.

 

Contribution of the research area to ZALF research 

 

Working Groups

 

Landscape Pedology

Image of the WG Landscape Pedology 

It is the strategic aim of this working group to develop an improved understanding of the dynamics and functionality of soil landscapes from the micro to the landscape scale by coupling soil processes and functions with spatially and temporally variable structures across scales. By combining experimental approaches, long-term measurements, modelling and continuous method development, particularly landscape-scale C and nutrient dynamics, feedback mechanisms of soil erosion (e.g. wind), the long-term dynamics of soil landscapes and their impact on soil fertility will be investigated.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Michael Sommer

 

Hydropedology

Image of the WG Hydropedology

This working group investigates the interactions between pedological and hydrological processes and characteristics to describe the water and element dynamics in landscapes and ecosystems, particularly in the soil and the unsaturated zone below the rooting zone to the groundwater (critical zone). The focus lies on the impact of the pore and soil structure on element fluxes and biogeochemical changes of soils and soil landscapes as well as their effects on soil functions, soil development and ecosystem stability. Both objectives will be achieved by means of structural and process modelling (numerical simulation models) in combination with model-based experiments (tracer experiments, percolation experiments with soil columns).

Contact: PD Dr. Horst Gerke

 

Silicon Biogeochemistry

Image of the WG Silicon Biogeochemistry

The focus of this working group is to improve the understanding of the silicon (Si) cycle in agricultural systems. Research questions thus address temporal Si dynamics, the drivers of Si cycling in agricultural systems as well as the relevance of the biogenic Si pool. In a first step, answers to these questions will be derived from long-term field trials (e.g. BonaRes project) and intensively studied experimental sites such as CarboZALF-D, which allow for the quantification of all relevant Si fluxes.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Michael Sommer

 

Isotope Biogeochemistry and Gas Fluxes

Image of the WG Isotope Biogeochemistry & Gas Fluxes

The working group studies the dynamics of biogenic volatile organic compounds (bVOCs), C and N in agricultural landscapes using mass spectrometry, gas chroma­tography, spectroscopy and optical methods as well as isotope dilution and tracer techniques. Particularly the combination of isotope techniques with gas measurement methods and multi-scale studies will help to investigate the interactions between the structure of microbial communities and the (trans)formation processes of gaseous C and N compounds as well as the impact of erosion- and deep tillage-derived saturation deficits in the soil C and N pool on C and N input and transformation processes.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Augustin

 

Microbial Biogeochemistry

Image of the WG Microbial Biogeochemistry

This working group investigates the importance of microbiomes for element cycles of terrestrial and agriculturally used ecosystems, with a particular focus on the relevance of microbial interactions and the quantitative dynamics of microbiomes for climate-relevant trace gas emissions (N2O, biogenic volatile organic compounds [bVOCs]) of agricultural landscapes. In addition to combining laboratory experiments of environmental microbiology with gas analytics and plant experiments to study microbial mechanisms that regulate element fluxes, the working group will also develop the methodological basis for field- and landscape-scale experiments on the activity, dynamics and spatial heterogeneity of microbiomes.

Contact: PD Dr. Steffen Kolb

 

Fungal Interactions

Image of the WG Fungal Interactions

The focus of this working group is on interactions between phytopathogenic fungi and bacteria or other fungi and the associated effects on crop biomass productivity, particularly for wheat (Triticum L.). It is the long-term objective to investigate these interactions in integrated laboratory and climate chamber experiments, plot and field trials, followed by subsequent landscape experiments to understand mechanisms and drivers at the landscape scale. The working group uses mycological and phytotoxological methods and combines mycological and biogeochemical methods with micrometeorology and remote sensing.

Contact: Dr. Marina Müller

 

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