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Fields and meadows provide a range of key services, as long as the soil is healthy. A group of researchers and companies will study how farmlands can be returned to multifunctionality.
Nearly 1000 'citizen scientists' sent in their observations this year on Soil Animal Days 2019. And a surprisingly high number of people tried to do something in return for the vital services these soil creatures provide for us.
As a new year begins, NIOO looks back not just on the past twelve months but on 150 years of ecology. We've come a long way since German biologist Ernst Haeckel first coined the term in 1866...
If you’re small, smells are a good way to stand out. A team of researchers led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has demonstrated for the first time that two different types of micro-organisms – bacteria and fungi – use fragrances, known as terpenes, to hold conversations. And that’s not all. “We actually believe that terpenes are the most popular chemical medium on our planet to communicate through.”
Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, many farmers rely on this grain for food and feed. But Striga, a parasitic weed, can have a devastating impact on crop yield. With an 8-million-dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an international team will now explore the potential of soil microbes to offer crop protection. The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is coordinating this 5-year project.
‘Relationships’ in the soil become stronger during the process of nature restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really ‘connected’ at first. These connections need time to (literally) grow, and fungi are the star performers here. A European research team led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has shown the complete network of soil life for the first time. This Wednesday, the results of the extensive study are published in Nature Communications.
In nature, plants cannot grow without soil biota such as fungi and bacteria. Successful plants are able to harness positive, growth-promoting soil organisms while avoiding the negative effects of others. Which plant traits can predict these interactions, or the success of a plant? Researchers and plant breeders would like to know. In a paper in the Journal of Ecology of August 24, a team from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen University and the Universität Leipzig tested exactly this and found thick roots to be a leading trait.
Restoring nature, for instance on former farmland? That works a lot faster, more precise, and less disruptive via soil inoculation. Take a bit of healthy soil from a natural area close by and restore the desired type of nature within a couple of years. In the journal Nature Plants, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and Natuurmonumenten (Society for Nature Conservation) also solve a long-lasting subject of discussion: it’s the soil bugs that steer such nature restoration.
What soil creatures are living right under our feet? Find out in your own backyard on 4 October - or in your local park, on your green roof or even your balcony (!) - as the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) organises the first-ever 'Soil Animal Day', together with the Centre for Soil Ecology (CSE).
The soil expertise found at Wageningen enjoys international recognition. So it is only fitting that in 2015, the International Year of Soils, numerous activities are taking place in Wageningen. On Monday 26 January, various Wageningen-based institutions and organisations laid a plaque in the Walk of Fame on campus to kick off the IYS. The gesture symbolises their collaboration in the new Wageningen Soil Network.