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A more efficient and sustainable fertilization trough recycling phosphorus as struvite

Ana Robles Aguilar

I started my Ph.D. in 2014 within the EU-project ManureEcoMine, with the aim to reuse manure as fertilizer by applying the principles of resource recovery and energy efficiency. My research has focused on nutrient recovery, plant growth analysis, and plant mineral nutrition, with a particular interest in Phosphorus (P), and how plants and soil communities interact under different P fertilizations, studying mainly struvite as a good candidate for being a renewable P source.

To understand aspects that modify P availability from struvite, the effect of plant species, soil pH, and way and time of application were studied. Plant species have different morphological and physiological adaptations to increase the efficiency of P acquisition. Under this premise, a particular focus was put on root traits that would have an effect on phosphorus bioavailability (root exudates of organic acids) and spatial availability (root architecture). The use of non-invasive phenotyping techniques available at IBG-2, revealed different plant responses at various growth stages above and below ground, depending on the P fertilizer applied. I completed part of my research at the University of Western Australia, at the school of plant biology, highly recognized by it research contributions in the field of P nutrition and plant P-use efficiency. During my PhD studies it was observed that the use of plants that can actively acidify the soil, combined with the application of the struvite with ammonium-N, will increase the struvite-P use efficiency. For future applications, the studied traits can be used to select candidate plants that will increase the efficiency of struvite and other recovered products, underlying mechanisms (like way and time of application) that will also ensure high yields. My studies have the potential to increase fertilizer use efficiency and to promote the recycling of nutrients.

 Multiple influences of plant root systems on nutrient turnover and microbial community, and their potential interactions