The Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, which includes the Professorship for Plant Nutrition and Soil Science and the Professorship for Plant Microbiomics, is committed to optimizing the nutrient and water supply of agricultural crops while reducing the impact on adjacent ecosystems.
As a main focus, the department studies the role of magnesium and nitrate in cell closure and water uptake in crops (e.g. legumes and cereals). A better understanding of these correlations will help to develop fertilization practices that provide optimal nutrient supply when soil water is scarce, while enhancing the plant’s capacity to absorb water under such conditions. With respect to water uptake, we want to understand how crops adapt to water scarcity and how grapevines, for example, are able to use water from deeper soil levels.
We are also advising winegrowers as part of the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive, and elaborating strategies to increase nutrient use efficiency in horticulture.
Microorganisms play a key role in our research activities, particularly in relation to vineyard fertility. In addition, we are investigating how optimal nutrient supply can help boost the resistance of vegetable crops and fruit trees to aphids and bacterial leaf blight caused by Pseudomonas syringae.
In the context of changing climatic conditions and their associated risks, we are also working on adapting crops to salt and water stress.