SMART FERTILIZATION how reponses to nutrient patches improve plant performance and drought resistance

The following topic is particularly suitable for working in a team of 2-3 students.

In the last years, experiments in the Nijmegen Phytotron revealed that maize responds to nutrient patches by developing a more branched root system, and that this response can improve the resistance of maize to drought. In 2018 we exposed summer wheat to drought with nutrients placed in a deeper soil layer, which completely annihilated the drought stress. Apparently, this alternative method of nutrient application may add to work around the predicted increased incidence of drought in large parts of Europe in the coming decades. This topic is highly novel and receives wide attention as one of the measures of Smart Fertilization.

For the upcoming field season (possibly starting late winter), we look for students that help us to design experiments exploring the effects of nutrient patches and rooting patterns of crop species (wheat, possibly potato) on abiotic stress tolerance and subsequent crop performance. In the end, this will contribute to a smarter use of fertilizers, leading to less leaching of nitrate into the ground and surface water and a lower pressure of nutrients on the agricultural ecosystem.

If you are interested and want more information, please contact Eric Visser,