Sustaining Soil Services
New Zealand depends on its soils to recycle nutrients - such as nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus - with minimal leakage and to filter and buffer a range of biological contaminants such as animal derived steroid hormones, veterinary antibiotics and pathogenic microbes.
Work in this area includes:
Resilient nutrient cycling in soil
The focus of our research is on the ability of soils to recycle nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus. To reduce nitrogen leaking from soils our research seeks to manipulate soil processes to enhance denitrification and understand mechanisms for nitrogen retention in soil. As soil microbes are the key agents for nutrient cycling we are determining the impacts of soil management on soil microbial community structure and function.
Efficient filtering of biological contaminants
The focus of our research is on understanding the ability of soil to filter and buffer contaminants derived from agriculture practice including pathogenic microbes, nutrients and organic compounds (e.g. steroid hormones and veterinary antibiotics). Research in this area involves comparing how soils vary in their ability to retain contaminants, including mechanisms for retention and loss; determining fate (including adsorption, degradation and transport) of contaminants in soil; and the influence of rainfall and irrigation on contaminant mobilisation.