Researchers from Cor-nell University, Ohio State University, Technical Uni-
versity of Munich, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station are using synchrotron light to investigate how moisture affects soil carbon – an important ingredient for healthy crops and fertile fields.
“Due to climate change, Earth is going to get warmer and moisture events are going to be more dramatic,” said Itamar Shabtai, an Assistant Scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station who was a Postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science during this study.
“So, environments and soils may become either drier or wetter depending on their location.”
Dr Shabtai said that while the effects of temperature extremes are somewhat understood, mois-ture’s impact on soil organic carbon is still unclear.
In a paper published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Dr Shabtai and his team investigated the impact of moisture and found that microbes within moist soils process organic inputs and store soil organic carbon better than in drier soils.
The team hopes its findings will impact soil management practices, help to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and improve predictions about what is going to happen to the carbon in drier soils that cannot be easily managed.
The researchers gained these insights by analyzing their soil samples on the SGM beamline at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan.
“We were able to understand that there is more carbon that has spectral features of microbes in the moist soils and more carbon that looks like it comes directly from plant carbon in the drier soils – that’s something that would have been nearly impossible to do without synchrotron technology,” Dr Shabtai said.
The Canadian Light Source (CLS) is a national research facility of the University of Saskatchewan and one of the largest science projects in Canada’s history.
More than 1,000 academic, government and industry scient-ists from around the world use the CLS every year in innovative health, agriculture, environment, and advanced materials research.
The Canada Foundation for Innovation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the University of Saskatchewan fund CLS operations.
The Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), mean-
while, as announced the app-ointment of its first Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Nancy Tout (PhD).
A research and development leader with a PhD in microbiology and immunology, Dr Tout is joining GIFS from Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR), a Government of Alberta initiative, where she has been responsible for developing, administering and delivering innovative research funding programmes.
Prior to RDAR, she was at Syngenta Canada for over 21 years, leading a research and development team of over 60 scientists across Canada in the discovery, development and registration of agricultural innovation projects.
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