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Marijke Struijk – University of Reading

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Marijke Struijk

How can we make better use of crop residues?

Most of the biomass harvested in arable cropping systems consists of crop residues (straw, stalks, leaves etc.), forming a widely available on-farm resource containing calories, carbon and other nutrients. My project is about identifying possible management strategies that farmers could employ to make better use of crop residues' qualities for improving their soil, mainly by increasing the amount of residue-derived carbon and nutrients that stay in the soil instead of being respired or mineralised.
I observed that some soil faunal abundances changed in different stages of an arable crop rotation and tested if moving residues to a different plot from where they were grown leads to a slower ("better") decomposition rate (i.e. testing if home-field advantage exists in arable cropping systems), but the results were negative. I also tested the potential of crop-residue mixing and found positive synergistic effects on soil organic matter and available nitrogen after mixtures were applied, compared to soils to which only one crop-residue type was applied.
My PhD project is funded by the Faculty of Science and by the Waitrose Agronomy group.


About Me:

BSc Environmental Science from the University of York, UK (first class honours).
MSc Advanced Clay Science from the University of Poitiers, France, and MSc Chemistry from the University of Ottawa, Canada. 

Research Interests:

  • Soil organic matter biogeochemistry.
  • Soil fauna.
  • Arable cropping soilsi.
  • Organo-mineral materials.

Research Groups:

Environmental Science Research Division

Soil Research Centre 




Dr Tom Sizmur (University of Reading)

Professor Simon Mortimer (University of Reading)

Professor Andrew Whitmore (Rothamsted Research)

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