Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Devon
PhD Title (or subject area)
Influence of historical management and soil moisture on N2O emissions from grasslands
I studied Environmental Science at Plymouth University which included a year working for Natural England as part of a professional placement. My placement advisor was Rob Parkinson a now retired soil scientist, I was quickly involved with several projects relating to the United Nations International Year of Soils. I fell in love with the fields fascinating breadth and importance, eventually basing my undergrad thesis on the impact of wood ant nests on woodland soil properties. Now I’m pursuing a PhD in the hopes of learning communicating, and contributing to soil science and society.
Soils are a crucial sink and source in numerous biogeochemical cycles including the nitrogen cycle – an element that’s integral to complex life and crop growth. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is of particular interest because it’s a powerful greenhouse gas, (approximately 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) and a precursor of ozone depletion in the stratosphere.
Its production is mediated by microbial activity and the factors that impact these communities such as land use and soil moisture have been studied within short time frames. However, my project explores how historical soil moisture (weeks-months) and management (years-decades) might influence the microbial response and resulting N2O emissions. The ultimate goal is to understand how these emissions can be reduced through changing agricultural practices.