Experimental farming, riparian wetland carbon storage and bioindicators

Apicturebout 80% of the terrestrial organic carbon stocks, which are actively involved on the carbon-cycle, are bound to soils. With a foreseeable temperature increase due to global warming a tremendous release of carbon dioxide especially from agriculturally used soils can be anticipated. A major part of the organic carbon in soils is bound to soil organic matter, originating from fragmented organic debris.

Objectives of this subproject are, therefore, to identify types of organic matter, which are appropriate for soil organic matter (SOM) enrichment in arable fields. The soil conditions in the study area and their influence on the decomposition rate of SOM will be studied. Furthermore, the necessary agricultural techniques to optimize SOM and carbon storage in the study area will be identified and “carbon burial” machines will be developed, which could be easily and profitable used by the farmers.

The arable fields in the states of Mato Grosso and Parà are often bordered by riparian wetlands, which cover a huge area in the Amazonian lowlands of Brazil. These riparian wetlands have an enormous potential for carbon storage. We want to understand this potential of carbon storage and to find arguments for their future conservation. Therefore, the amount of carbon being stored in the riparian wetlands, above- and belowground, will be analyzed and their geographic extension assessed.


A PhD position will study the decomposition processes of the agrarian fields and the semi-natural areas. The decomposition rates of different litter substances will be determined and biotic indicators gained. For this study, the earthworm fauna will be recorded on the study areas, species identified, and the Collembola/oribatid mite ratio determined. The decomposition rates will be correlated with soil parameters to develop spatial models of the decomposition processes and the referring biotic indicators. Moreover, a geographic gradient will be considered that covers the area from the southern border near Cuiabá to the Amazon tropical rainforest near Novo Progresso.