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Aktuelles aus den Elitestudiengängen

Internship at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research

In this spring, Patrick von Jeetze completed an internship at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) in Müncheberg, where he took the opportunity to study the invisible ecosystem below our feet – soils.

No network supports us like the one below our feet. Tiny cavities form the soil's pore network, which is key to terrestrial life. This complicated network guarantees access to essential nutrients and water, which is conserved and purified in a myriad of interstices between the different minerals and organic particles that form soils. The void-space below our feet often accounts for nearly half of the soil's total volume, not only providing an extensive habitat for plant roots and many different organisms, but also a vast reservoir for water. In this pore network, water, mainly from rain, is held against gravity by what soil physicists call cohesive and adhesive forces. It is the main source of water for terrestrial ecosystems across the globe and the total amount of water transpired by plants nearly matches the discharge of all rivers around the world. In croplands, almost 90 % of all water consumed globally stems from rain, which is stored in the extensive pore reservoir of soils.

The hydraulic conductivity is a soil physical property determined by the quality of the pore network and essential to describe water transport in soils. In the Hydropedology group at ZALF, Patrick von Jeetze had the opportunity to analyze undisturbed soil samples focusing on changes in the horizontal or vertical direction (anisotropy) of the hydraulic conductivity under different agricultural management practices. During his internship, he was able to deepen his knowledge of soil physical concepts and research methods in the field, lab and mainly (numerical) modeling approaches.

Text and Picture: Patrick von Jeetze

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