Project properties

Title Monitoring soil biodiversity on agro ecological farms
Group Soil Biology
Project type thesis
Credits 24-39
Supervisor(s) Gabriel Moinet (SBL), Jan Hassink (Wageningen Plant Research)
Examiner(s) prof.dr. Rachel Creamer
Contact info Gabriel Moinet (gabriel.moinet@wur.nl)
Begin date 2021/09/01
End date
Description Agro-ecological farming practices are gaining increasing interest in the Netherlands and Europe. Different networks like Toekomstboeren, Biological Dynamic Farms, Food Forests, Permaculture and Community Supported Agriculture farmers present themselves as examples of agro ecological farming. Their objective is to restore links between agriculture and nature, citizens and farmers, cities and rural areas.
In 2019 we started a project focusing on the contribution of agro ecological farms on biodiversity. This project is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. We established a network of 17 agro ecological farmers who are interested in stimulating biodiversity on their farm.
The farmers consider soil biodiversity and soil life as the basis of their farm and a healthy farming system. This project aims at studying some of the assumptions about agro-ecological farming on soil biodiversity and soil performance. A range of topics for MSc theses can be defined to investigate the following questions:
• How does the incorporation of trees and shrubs on farms influence the microbial and faunal communities in the soil?
• Does the diversity of crops introduced above-ground stimulate more diverse below-ground communities?
• How do different types of organic amendments (manure vs plant based) influence microbial communities? Do plant based amendment promote fungi-dominated communities?
• Does fungi enriched composts lead to an increase in soil fungal biomass, reduction in plant diseases, increased nutrient uptake and higher yields (hypothesis of Elaine Ingham Soil Food Web Group)
• Do fungi dominated communities lead to more efficient nutrient recycling and higher carbon and organic matter contents in soils?

Used skills Literature review, writing proposal and thesis, experimental design, chemical and biological laboratory work, data analysis.
Requirements Required courses for MSc thesis Soil Biology