This individual MSc project aims to develop a simple growth model to estimate biomass production for cover crops based on field data from Sweden and neighboring countries. Model outputs will be used to estimate above- and belowground carbon inputs that together with national areal statistics and pedo-climatic information are needed to evaluate the potential contribution of cover crops to soil carbon sequestration in Sweden.
Increasing carbon storage in soils is one way of mitigating and adapting to climate change. Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils through improved management practices is particularly interesting because of its low costs and multiple co-benefits on soil quality. The Swedish Board of Agriculture has recently launched a new payment scheme to stimulate the inclusion of cover crops in Swedish crop rotations. Although this new program has led to a doubling of the cover crop area, the potential area of implementation is far from being reached.
This MSc project will contribute to the ongoing research project financed by the Swedish Farmer’s Foundation for Agricultural Research (SLF). The specific boundaries of the thesis work can be adjusted depending on your interests. The proposed first step will be to refine a present database created from Swedish cover crop experiments with data from recent projects conducted in Nordic countries. You will learn how to analyze the data and construct a simple cover crop growth model from this dataset. You will also learn how to apply a dynamic soil carbon model, driven by the estimated C inputs from cover crops, and how to upscale model results for projecting the C sequestration potential of cover crops at the national scale.
This MSc project will be supervised by Dr. Martin Bolinder, a senior scientist at the Department of Ecology at SLU, and Dr. Helena Aronsson, Assoc. professor at the Department of Soil and Environment. The subject area of the thesis may be soil science, environmental science, biology or similar areas. The thesis may be written in Swedish or English.