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​Sustainable Agriculture and Soil Ecology​

We investigate the impact of management practices on agroecosystem services, including crop productivity, soil fertility and biodiversity, arable weed diversity, carbon and nitrogen sequestration, and the control of greenhouse gas emissions

Grupo de investigación dependiente del

​Departamento de Medio Ambiente y Agronomía

Our expertise lies in the fields of agronomy, soil science, as well as plant, animal and microbial ecology. We combine these disciplines to jointly investigate the impact of management practices on agroecosystem services, with the goal of guaranteeing their sustainability in terms of:


● Crop productivity and efficiency in the use of water and nutrients

Minimization of greenhouse gas emissions from soil to the atmosphere

● Maintenance of arable weed diversity through the optmization of current management practices and introduction of innovative practices

● Maintenance of soil fertility and structure

● Conservation of microfauna and microbial soil diversity, and of the structure of the soil food web​


Our research helps understand the complex interaction between the atmosphere, plants and soils, and how vectors of environmental change alter such interaction. Our results have a strong component in terms of knowledge transference to policy makers, enterprises and farmers, with whom we interact through R&D contracts, and participation in joint forums and workshops.    


Research

Agroecosystem services

Our group develops six research lines that share the objective of understanding the impact that agricultural management practices have on the multifunctionality of agroecosystems in a context of environmental change. Our activity takes place to a great extent in La Canaleja Research Station, where our senior colleagues have maintained since the 90's one of the longest conservation agriculture assays in Spain. Nowadays, this experiment is part of a European network on long-term agricultural experiments. Our research lines are:


Crop productivity and efficiency

We study the efficiency of crops in the use of water and nutrients, as well as the physiological characteristics in response to abiotic stress of crops, genotypes and wild species

Control of greenhouse gas emissions

We evaluate the impact of management practices on the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) from soils to the atmosphere. We try to discern which abiotic and biotic soil factors are the main determinants of the magnitude of greenhouse gas emissions

Management of organic residues

We perform agronomic, analytic and economic evaluations of organic byproducts and sewage sludge for their use in agriculture, as well as for the reclamation of polluted and eroded soils

Arable weed management

We research the population dynamics of arable weeds and their seed banks in cropping systems under changing climatic conditions, trying to optimize integrated weed control strategies. We study the functional traits of arable weeds that relate agricultural biodiversity and climate

Soil microfauna

We study the diversity of soil microfauna and analyze the structure and functionality of soil food webs. We use soil diversity as an indicator of agricultural sustainability and study its relationship with agroecosystem processes and services, including the maintenance of crop productivity, soil fertility and nutrient cycling, and the control of pests and crop diseases. We research the response of soil biodiversity to vectors of environmental change and look for agricultural management practices that maximize the resilience of food webs and their functions in soils.

Soil microbiome

We investigate the diversity of the soil microbiome (bacteria, archaea and fungi) combining omics with phylogenetic and functional approaches. We try to understand the relationship between microbial diversity and the essential ecosystem functions that soils deliver, including the decomposition of organic matter and nutrient cycling. We also study the influence of the soil microbiome in the resilience and restoration of plant communities in the face of environmental change.

New research lines

Our multidisciplinary approach to study agroecosystems has recently attracted new researchers. Their research lines bring new perspectives to ongoing projects on atmosphere-plant-soil interactions:

● Impact of vectors of environmental change (climate change and wildfires) on mycorrhizal fungi and their plant hosts. Simulation models on terrestrial ecosystems under future scenarios.

● Restoration of ecosystem functions under highly stressful conditions (including mining areas). Effects of plant traits on plant-soil feedbacks. Restoration of plant diversity, soil fertility and productivity through facilitative interactions between plant species.

● Use of remote sensing and simulation models together with geostatistics aimed at precision management of spatial variability in cropping systems.

● ​Scenario analysis at the provincial, regional and national scales to evaluate the environmental benefits of agricultural management practices.

Miembros

Coordinador de Grupo

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