Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


No Laughing Matter

Abertay University is supporting the University of Plymouth in a £1 million project which could reduce the impact of global warming by decreasing the levels of nitrous oxide – ‘laughing gas’ – produced by the earth’s soil.

The ground-breaking project has been made possible thanks to new state-of-the-art technology installed at Plymouth’s School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences and £1.138 million funding from the Agri-food Committee of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Plymouth is also working closely with the Scottish Informatics, Mathematics, Biology and Statistics soil research group (SIMBIOS) at the University of Abertay Dundee, as well as Rothamsted Research and the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.

If soil becomes partially saturated it gives off the ‘greenhouse gas’ nitrous oxide. The levels are not sufficient to harm crops but the gas enters the atmosphere and adds to the global warming problem.

The research will use the new ‘Pore-Cor’ software, developed at the University of Plymouth, which allows the structure of soil to be studied in ‘virtual reality.’ Brand new laboratories have been built and a ‘lysimeter’ constructed in which simulated rainfall is passed through large soil blocks.

Peter Matthews, Reader in Applied Physical Chemistry and the university’s Environmental and Fluid Modelling Group, explains: "We have assembled a team of ten of the top researchers across the UK to tackle this problem. By the end of the project, we should know much more about how saturation, fertilising and compaction of both arable and grassland soil alters the amount of nitrous oxide it gives off.”

A sophisticated soil compression apparatus is currently being constructed and will be installed at Rothamsted Research (iHarpenden, Herts). The compacted soil samples will then be sent to experts at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, near Okehampton, who will monitor the amount of gas given off. Other samples will be subjected to X-ray ‘CT scanning’ by SIMBIOS and the results will be modelled and interpreted at Plymouth and compared to results from the Plymouth soil blocks.

Professor Iain Young of SIMBIOS comments: “In a single handful of soil, there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings who have ever lived. Many of these still haven’t even been identified by science, much less the huge complexity of the way they interact. Our sophisticated x-ray tomography equipment allows soil to be studied from the inside without disrupting its delicate internal ecosystems.”

The government is already instructing farmers on optimum tillage regimes within the Single Payment Scheme, and these results will strengthen the scientific basis of the advice being issued.

Kevin Coe | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>