Camilla Ruø Rasmussen
Tenure Track Adjunkt
I am working with root growth in agricultural crops and I am studying the connection between root growth and the utilization of water and nutrients. Whereas crops ability to take up water and nutrients from the upper soil layers is quite well established, the significance of deep root growth, and the ability of agricultural crops to utilize soil resources from below one meter is much more poorly understood.
My PhD project is part of the DeepFrontier project, which aims at increasing exploitation of subsoil resources in agricultural growing systems by deep roots in order to enhance food production in a sustainable way. Crops utilization of water and nutrients from deep soil layers can contribute to reduce drought problems, to enhance nutrient use efficiency and to reduce nutrient leaching losses.
Deep root growth is in the context of DeepFrontier root growth down to five meters depth. That is both much deeper than what many current agricultural crops reach and much deeper than what have been studied earlier. So a first step is to develop and test new methods for studying root growth and resource uptake from soil layers down to five meter. And that is what I am working on in my PhD project. I will work with isotope tracer techniques, and I will test a range of stable isotopes for their potential for studying water and nutrient uptake activity by deep roots.
My colleagues and I are curious about how the crops grow under field conditions, meaning that we work with experimental setups that are as close as possible to the growth conditions in the field. To enable detailed studies of root activity and the testing of novel methods we need to grow crops under more controlled conditions than in the field, but we mimic the field conditions by choosing field soil as growing medium and by growing crops in containers up to four meters height to allow a natural rooting depth. And of course we test our ideas in field trials as well.