In the fight against drought a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside are looking into an overlooked tool: soil. The team, lead by assistant professor of environmental sciences, Samantha Ying, have received a $1.69 million grant to study how soil relates to water use by a crop during drought.
The grant is one of four given by the University of California Office of the President. The four winning projects were chose from more than 180 proposals.
Ying will collaborate with researchers at three UC campuses (Davis, Berkeley, Merced), Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and several Agricultural Research and Extension Centers.
Soil, particularly soil carbon and its microbiome, plays a critical role in crop water use efficiency and crop response to drought. Physical, chemical and biological interactions in soil at the micrometer scale form soil aggregates that are critical in storing carbon and contain the small pores needed to retain moisture.
The team will conducts field and lab research on microbiological, biophysical, and geochemical mechanisms controlling soil aggregate formation and stability. They will look at various row crops, farming practices, and irrigation methods.