Understanding and manipulating interactions between soil, plant and animal microbiomes to improve water quality and sustainable pastoral productivity
Project Details Ngā taipitopito
New Zealand dairy farm systems are strongly influenced by various sources of nitrogen: atmospheric nitrogen fixed by legumes, cow effluent, and fertilisers. These inputs must be balanced to maximise plant and animal productivity, and minimise nitrogen leaching to waterways.
The nitrogen cycle relies on the action of microbes: nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the roots of plants, bacteria in the cow rumen, and ammonifying and nitrifying bacteria in the soil. These plant, soil and animal microbiomes are usually viewed as distinct entities, but Innovative Agricultural Microbiomes research is taking the novel approach of investigating them as a meta-microbiome, or agricultural microbiome.
Our researchers are learning how agricultural microbiomes respond to increasing levels of nitrogenous fertiliser, and are identifying the soil-plant-animal microbiome interactions that mediate nitrogen in a dairy production system.
Our research aims to manipulate microbiome-driven processes in the soil, plant and animal to minimise the leaching of nitrogen, provide nutrients for forage plants, and supply the micronutrients and energy that animals need to produce foods consumed by humans.