Using soil inoculations for ecosystem restoration
Soils house an overwhelming abundance and diversity of living (micro)organisms. In our research we examine how plants influence the soil they grow in, and how these changes influence other plants that grow later in the soil, and the insects on those plants. We study the mechanisms of these aboveground-belowground interactions under controlled conditions in greenhouses and growth chambers, but also in real field situations. Most of our work focuses on grassland ecosystems but we also study these interactions in horticultural soils. In collaboration with restoration practitioners we examine how we can improve the biodiversity and functioning of these grasslands, by using plants to improve soils or via soil inoculation.
(2018 - present)
This is a soil transplantation experiment in a coastal sand dune area. Dune ecosystems are vulnerable and restoration of nature in degraded areas is difficult. In this project, together with the drinking water company Dunea, we examine how biotic (microbial community) and abiotic (nutrients, organic matter) characteristics of transplanted soil impact the aboveground plant and animal communities.
GRASSLAND SOIL INOCULATION EXPERIMENT AT THE VELUWE AREA
In this field experiment that is running since 2016 we study soil legacy effects of plant communities with different growth forms and traits. We collected soil from underneath patches that consisted of grasses or forb species, and used this soil to inoculate plots with bare soil, where previously mixed plant communities were growing. In 104 plots we follow how inoculation influences the soil microbiome and the plant community over time.