Soil Ecology

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Soil Ecology

To be announced


Soils are pivotal for a large number of ecosystem services like delivering food, fibre and biofuels, clean air, drinking water and carbon storage. Because of increased intensive land use and global change scenarios, it is expected that these soil ecosystem services will be negatively impacted. For this reason, considerable efforts by scientists and policy-makers are directed towards optimizing land management for maximum functionality in terms of ecosystem servicesHow can we fully exploit the multifunctional potential of soils? And how is the soil’s functionality impacted by land-use intensification and climate change? This is the theme for the 7th edition of the international PhD course on Soil Ecology.

Course set-up

The course is composed of a series of lectures, subsequent discussions, working group activities, a poster session, and a debating session. The course will start on Sunday in the late afternoon (4-5 PM) with welcome drinks, a dinner, and a keynote lecture. Accordingly, the course will run from Monday until Thursday afternoon (4-5PM), after wich everyone can make their way home again.

Tentative programme

soil_ecology.pngOn Sunday we start with a general introduction on how soils are structured and how they function from an integrated physical-chemical-biological perspective with a keynote by Franciska de Vries, who is Full Professor at the University of Amsterdam. Her research interest is focussed on impacts of land use and climate change on soil biodiversity, and subsequently on the effects of changes in soil biodiversity on ecosystem functioning

The topic of Monday will be whether nature can stand as a model for enhancing sustainability in agriculture. This issue will be discussed by Marcel van der Heijden and Wim van der Putten. Marcel van der Heijden works as a Research Group Leader of the Ecological Farming Group of AgroScope in Switzerland. Marcel studies the role of soil biodiversity as a determinant of plant biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, with special attention to microbial diversity, symbiotic associations between plants and soil microbes, plant-soil interactions, ecosystem sustainability and the development of ecological farming systems. Wim van der Putten is based at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. In 2012 he obtained an ERC-Advanced grant that enables him with an enthusiastic team to investigate how aboveground and belowground multi-trophic interactions disintegrate and reintegrate during climate warming-induced range shifts.

On Monday evening there will be a special lecture by Ken Giller. Ken is Professor Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University. He leads a group of scientists with profound experience in systems analysis and simulation modelling of scenarios of change. Currently he is scientific leader of the interdisciplinary project "N2AFRICA". N2AFRICA is a large scale, science-based “research-in-development” project focused on putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa (

On Tuesday, Henry Janzen and Peter Kuikman will speak about the link between soil organic carbon and climate change by introducing the carbon dilemma and the opportunities for using organic carbon to combat climate change. Henry Janzen works at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycling, greenhouse gas emissions and soil C sequestration. Peter Kuikman is senior scientist at Wageningen Environmental Research. Amongst other things, Peter has coordinated a large EU project on identifying innovative processing technologies and strategies to convert urban and farm organic waste to valuable and safe products for agriculture and allow industries to develop projects and provide adequate information on use and quality of the products (FERTIPLUS), and has been involved in the SmartSOIL project (Sustainable farm Management Aimed at Reducing Threats to SOILs under climate change).

On Tuesday evening Maria Briones will provide an evening lecture on global change and soil ecology. Maria Briones is currently a Professor of Animal Biology at the University of Vigo (Spain) with special interest on the functional role of soil fauna in terrestrial ecosystems in the context of climate change.

Wednesday will be dedicated to the recent advances in linking belowground and aboveground processes with lectures by Martijn Bezemer and Gerlinde De Deyn. Martijn is researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Ecology and special professor ecology of plant-microbe interactions at Leiden University. Gerlinde is personal professor Soil Ecology at the chair group Soil Biology and Biological Soil Quality at Wageningen University. In the evening, Jan Willem van Groenigen will talk about publishing in soil ecology from an editor’s perspective. Jan Willem studies the relation between functional diversity of soil organisms and elemental cycles. He is a professor in soil biology and the chair of the Editors in Chief of Geoderma.

Thursday we will conclude by discussing global soil biodiversity in relation to the sustainable development goals. Kelly Ramirez will discuss global biodiversity assessments, and Luca Montanarella will link the global soil expertise to European and Global policy making.


World-renowned experts and lecturers contributing to the course:

Course organisers
General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates, postdocs, and other academics
Group Size Min. 25, max. 40 participants
Course duration 5 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Every three years
Number of credits 1.5 ECTS
Lecturers See above
Prior knowledge Basic knowledge of soil ecology is assumed
Location Conference Centre De Werelt, Lunteren, the Netherlands
More information

Dr Amber Heijboer (PE&RC)
Phone: +31205257451

Dr Lennart Suselbeek (PE&RC)
Phone: +31317485426

Registration of interest

At this moment, this course is not scheduled yet. However, if you register your interest in this activity below, we will inform you as soon as the course is scheduled and registration of participation is opened.