Managing microbes for healthy soils

About The Researcher

Amanda’s fascination with soils sprang from a love for complex ecosystems, the mysteries of the invisible, and the booming local food movement in her home state of Vermont. Trained as an ecologist and molecular biologist, she aims her research toward improving understanding of our natural world to enable land-management strategies that maintain ecosystem health and productivity. She is also passionate about being of service to the broader community whether by supporting farmers, writing in accessible ways about science, bringing playful knowledge-building activities to K-12 classrooms, or encouraging future scientists from underrepresented groups to pursue careers in science.

Just for fun: my research, described using only the 1,000 most common words in English
Every year there are more people in the world who need to eat, but we are already growing food in every place we can. Some of the land is getting sick because we are using it wrong. If we are going to make lots of food on our land so people can eat for a long time to come, we need to find ways to make more food on the land we have while also keeping it well and strong. As food grows, it needs to get its own food from the sun, the water, and the land. But it can only get food from the land if it asks for help from the small life under ground. These tiny animals break things up to make them good for growing food to eat. In my work I ask, how can growing food and the small animals under ground work together, and how much does this help the food grow? Does the way we use the land change how the growing food and small animals act together? If we understand these things, can we keep the land from getting sick? I will look at the tiny ground life to see who they are, exactly how they are breaking up things in the ground, and how much they are helping our living food. To do this, I will learn exciting new ways to find out these things, like using computers to help me understand facts about the tiny animals that are usually too many and small for normal people to understand on their own. What I find will help us make food on our land for a long time to come. (Made with The Up-Goer Five Text Editor)

Research Projects
Roots encourage microbes to release nitrogen from soil organic matter
Drought changes how microbes break down complex nitrogen
Agricultural management decisions shape soil microbial communities
News and Thoughts
Managing for microbes talk

Thanks so much to all the farmers, organizers, and fellow presenters at the SouthWest Agricultural Conference 2018. I had a… Read More

Talking about microbes

Catch me at the SouthWest Agricultural Conference in January 2018, where I'll speak about managing for soil microbes. I look… Read More

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