How does carbon affect soil structure?

Summary

Soil structure plays an important role in maintaining the quality of soil, mediating important biological, chemical and physical soil processes. Soil structure determines water retention, and infiltration, hence water availability to plants, it also has the potential to sequester carbon.
Although it has been well known that soil organic carbon interacts and influences the formation of soil structure, there is little evidence of attempts being made to directly describe this relationship using mechanistic models. This project will build and validate a mechanistic model of soil carbon dynamics.

Supervisor(s)

Professor Alex McBratney, Dr Damien Field, Dr Budiman Minasny

Research Location

Agriculture and Environment - Australian Technology Park

Program Type

PHD

Synopsis

We have developed a mechanistic model, named Struc-C, that describes how the soil organic carbon (SOC) influences the dynamics of soil structure, and consequently, soil physical behaviour. This model attemptsto build a connection between the biology, the chemistry, and the physics of soil aggregation. However improvements to, and validation of, the model are required. This project will seek to improve the model and investigate important parameters affecting the dynamics of soil carbon and structure. This includes the different mean residence tims of soil aggregate carbon fractions, and the relationship between organic matter input quantity and quality to SOC dynamics. Furthermore, we need to consider other factors that could influence soil structure, e.g., iron oxide sorption or the type of clay minerals.
Quantifying the components of soil aggregates and carbon and validating the model is an essential part.

Additional Information

A candidate with strong background in soil science, or related subjects. Experience in modelling and programming will be beneficial.

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Keywords

Soil carbon, soil aggregate, carbon sequestration, Climate Change

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1218

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