Impact of nutrients

Nutrient availability in natural ecosystems has increased due to anthropogenic activities like spill-over from agricultural ecosystems. In the Netherlands, this has led to the acidification of natural areas for example. At NIOO, we aim to understand the impact of nutrients on natural systems in more detail, to help to bring back the balance.

In temperate systems, plant growth is usually limited by nitrogen. A surplus of nitrogen will result in fast-growing plant species out-competing others. This imbalance can be countered with various extensive but powerful interventions. Such as taking out nitrogen from the system by grazing large herbivores. Or by strengthening the soil microbiome: closing the loops with organisms that recycle organic matter, that way releasing less nitrogen into the system.

Detailed knowledge on nutrient cycles, both above and below ground and in the water, is necessary for successful intervention.

Nutrients are key elements for species to grow and perform. Plants are usually limited by nitrogen in temperate systems, but also phosphor, potassium and micronutrients are essential.

Ciska Veen



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