Project properties

Title Evaluation of different types of bio-based fertilizers and their effects on carbon and nutrient dynamics in two different soils – Colombia - thesis or research internship
Group Soil Biology
Project type thesis
Credits 24-39
Supervisor(s) Mirjam Pulleman
Examiner(s) prof.dr. Rachel Creamer
Contact info
Begin date 2022/09/15
End date
Description The RUSTICA project ( aims to validate technical solution to convert organic residues from the fruit and vegetable sector into novel bio-based fertiliser products that address the needs of modern (sustainable) agriculture.

Within the context of this project we offer a thesis/internship opportunity that focuses on the evaluation of different types of bio-based fertilizers made from waste streams in the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia. The objective is to test their behaviour in 2 different soils, looking at nutrient and carbon mineralization and retention and other aspects of soil quality. The different waste valorization technologies include anaerobic digestion; insect biomass and biochar production. Obtained products from each technology will be tested for their potential to be used as building blocks for optimized fertilizer blends. Ultimately this work will contribute to the development of region-specific circular bio-based business models for the valorization of vegetable and fruit waste streams via organic fertilizer production and soil quality improvement.

In order to validate the different proposed bio-based fertilizer blends, laboratory incubation trials will be conducted. As a first step, the laboratory incubations of soil mixed with different fertilizer blends will be performed to determine the short-term impact of the bio-based fertilizers on nutrient availability and immobilization (extractable C and N, NO3-, NH4+, available P), GHG emissions (CO2, N2O) and microbial biomass and enzymatic activities. Based on these results further experiments will be designed to test the most promising bio-based fertilizers in field experiments.

The lab and field experiments will take place in 5 regions in parrallel, following common protocols for the incubation trials and characterization of the soil extractions. This information will facilitate the evaluation of the different mechanisms involved in soil nutrient dynamics and a screening of different experimental conditions to optimize the field scale experiments. Results will also be shared with stakeholder platforms in each region.

This MSc student project is part of a collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia. Interested students can apply for an ERASMUS+ scholarship.
Used skills Literature review, preparation and implementation of the experiment, laboratory analysis, data analysis and interpretation, writing of the thesis report & presentation of the results to different audiences. September / October 2022 (lab experiments) or 2023 (field experiments)
Requirements Required courses for MSc thesis Soil Biology.