I do my research on soil management and biogeochemistry, focusing on mechanisms for soil organic matter persistence. I have experience in agricultural and natural areas, especially in tropical climates (Brazil and southern Asia). My studies combine measurements at the nanoscale using spectromicroscopic techniques with bulk soil scale with a focus on organo-mineral associations.
Poster – Advancing Soil Science for Sustainable Agriculture: NIBIO's Local and Global Initiatives
The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) has been working on many fronts to promote sustainable agriculture. As part of the Department of Biogeochemistry and Soil Quality, I will present initiatives and progress made by the NIBIO Institute in promoting soil organic matter persistence and sustainable agriculture in Norway and worldwide. Two major challenges have been targeted with a focus on Norway: waste generation by several industries (e.g., agriculture, forestry, and fishery) and the short time of the cropping season in the country due to climatic constraints. To solve these issues, we are working on several projects focused on re-utilizing waste products by producing organic fertilizers, optimizing these fertilizers (e.g., biochar N-enrichment), and improving current cropping systems with crop diversification. Our main objective is to investigate the benefits of these practices in improving soil quality and crop productivity and enhancing soil organic matter persistence. Our work on soil science also goes beyond Norwegian and Nordic conditions. Among our international collaborations, we are currently working on a multi-institution bilateral project between China and Norway to promote the restoration of a semi-arid ecosystem in Inner Mongolia. We are also often engaging in project proposals for promoting sustainable agriculture in tropical regions. To develop these ideas, we promote a combined approach of spectroscopy techniques in collaboration with other institutions, such as nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) in partnership with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and NMR spectroscopy in partnership with the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-Pisa). Also, our research facilities count on good infrastructure, focusing on incubations with 13C and 15N labeled amendments and 13C pulse labeling.
The spatial distribution of organic substrates and microscale soil heterogeneity significantly influence organic matter (OM) persistence as constraints on OM accessibility to microorganisms. However, it is unclear how changes in OM spatial heterogeneity driven by factors such as soil depth affect the relative importance of substrate spatial distribution on OM persistence. This work evaluated the decomposition and persistence of 13C and 15N labeled water-extractable OM inputs over 50 days as either hotspot (i.e., pelleted in 1 – 2 mm-size pieces) or distributed (i.e., added as OM < 0.07 µm suspended in water) forms in topsoil (0-0.2 m) and subsoil (0.8-0.9 m) samples of an Andisol. We observed greater persistence of added C in the subsoil with distributed OM inputs relative to hotspot OM, indicated by a 17% reduction in cumulative mineralization of the added C and a 10% higher conversion to mineral-associated OM. A lower substrate availability potentially reduced mineralization due to OM dispersion throughout the soil. NanoSIMS (nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry) analysis identified organo-mineral associations on cross-sectioned aggregate interiors in the subsoil. On the other hand, in the topsoil, we did not observe significant differences in the persistence of OM, suggesting that the large amounts of particulate OM already present in the soil outweighed the influence of added OM spatial distribution. Here, we demonstrated under laboratory conditions that the spatial distribution of fresh OM input alone significantly affected the decomposition and persistence of OM inputs in the subsoil. On the other hand, spatial distribution seems to play a lower role in topsoils rich in particulate OM. The divergence in the influence of OM spatial distribution between the top and subsoil is likely driven by differences in soil mineralogy and OM composition.
The molecular diversity of the source substrate has been regarded as a significant controller of the proportion of plant material that is either mineralized or incorporated into soil organic matter (SOM). However, quantitative parameters to express substrate molecular diversity remain elusive. In this research, we fractionated leaves, twigs, bark, and root tissues of 13C-enriched eucalypt seedlings into hot water extractables (HWE), total solvent (acetone) extractables (TSE), a cellulosic fraction (CF), and the acid unhydrolyzable residue (AUR). We used 13C NMR spectroscopy to obtain a molecular diversity index (MDI) based on the relative abundance of carbohydrate, protein, lignin, lipid, and carbonyl functional groups within the biochemical fractions. Subsequently, we obtained artificial plant organs containing fixed proportions (25%) of their respective biochemical fractions to be incubated with soil material obtained from a Haplic Ferralsol for 200-days, under controlled temperature (25 ± 1 ◦C) and moisture adjusted to 70–80% of the soil water holding capacity. Our experimental design was a randomized complete block design, arranged according to a factorial scheme including 4 plant organs, 4 biochemical fractions, and 3 blocks as replicates. During the incubation, we assessed the evolution of CO2 from the microcosms after 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 21, 28, 38, 45, 70, 80, 92, 112, 148, 178 and 200 days from the start of the incubation. After the incubation, soil subsamples were submitted to a density fractionation to separate the light fraction of SOM (LFOM) i.e., with density <1.8 g cm 3. The heavy fraction remaining was submitted to wetsieving yielding the sand-sized SOM (SSOM) and the mineral-associated SOM (MAOM), with particle-size greater and smaller than 53 μm, respectively. We found that HWE and AUR exhibited comparatively higher MDIs than the TSE and CF. During the incubation, HWE and CF were the primary sources of 13C-CO2 from all plant organs and after 92 days, the respiration of the TSE of bark and roots increased. Otherwise, the AUR contributed the least for the release of 13C-CO2. There were no significant relationships between the MDI and the amount of 13C transferred into the LFOM or SSOM. Otherwise, the transfer of 13C into the MAOM increased as a linear-quadratic function of MDI, which in turn was negatively correlated with the total 13C-CO2 loss. Overall, the MDI exerted a stronger control on the 13C-labeled MAOM than on 13C-CO2 emissions, highlighting the need to improve our ability to distinguish and quantify direct plant inputs from those of microbial origin entering soil C pools.