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The 2018 Brian Chambers Award

Information about the entrants and winners in 2018.

In 2018 the award attracted a record number of entries, as its profile and status start to grow and be recognised. Entries were received from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, India, Iran, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, the UK, the USA and Zimbabwe.  Overall, researchers from 26 countries have now entered the award.  It was very pleasing that several of the finalists were able to come to the conference.

The judges found the task of selecting the three winners to be just as challenging in previous years. Eventually, however they concluded that the research that justified winning the first prize of £1,000 was by Klara Gunnarsen, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.  Her research is looking at the use of Greenland glacial rock flour (GRF) to rejuvenate nutrient poor soil. Because of the action of the glaciers, rock flour from this source is particularly fine, which improves its availability to crops. Klara's research involved different pot trials (single and double-pot) to look at plant responses to GRF amendment. Soil incubation trials are ongoing to follow-up on some of the nutrient release dynamics. Semi-field trials are also ongoing, to look at long term effects, plus effects under less controlled conditions that are closer to realistic farm practise.  So far her work has shown that GRF added to Danish and Brazilian soils enhanced soil fertility and significantly increased yields and nutrient uptake by plants. K, Mg and Si were supplied to plants by the GRF. Under low P conditions, enhanced Si uptake led to enhanced P uptake, even though the GRF is relatively poor in P. Her poster explains more, and shows the results of her trials.

A short interview with Klara about her research has been recorded. To hear it, click on the small white 'play' triangle in the middle of the new screen that will appear.


Of the two 2018 Runners up, Linxi Jiang, of the University of Nottingham, UK, is studying how to minimise the antagonist blocking effect of sulphur fertilisers on the uptake of selenium by plants.  This is a growing issue in parts of the world where cleaner air means that there is an increasing need for fertilisers to contain sulphur, while at the same time biofortification of crops with selenium has public health benefits. The cause of this antagonism is that sulphate and selenate compete for uptake via plant roots as they share the same root transporter. Linxi Jiang's research is running trials with ryegrass to measure the level of selenium update when different types of sulphur fertiliser is used.  It involved 'double-labelling' with two enriched stable isotopes 74Se and 77Se to monitor speciation changes in added selenate and selenite following application of the fertiliser to the soil. His poster shows the results.

A short interview with Linxi about his research has been recorded. You can see his poster here.


Finally, Bradley Kennedy, also of the University of Copenhagen, is studying the potential for the bio-acidification of manure by adding sugar to stimulate bacterial production of organic acids through anaerobic fermentation. The benefit of acidification is a reduction of ammonia emissions. The research determined how much sugar should be added to achieve a stable reduction in pH, and then quantified the effect this had on ammonia loss. It also evaluated whether and how bio-acidification might change the fertiliser properties of slurry: first, by measuring N and P availability over time after the slurry is added to soil, and then by measuring height and biomass of maize in a 35-day greenhouse pot trial. Bradley's postershows the results.

An interview with Bradley about her research has been recorded. amd can be listened to here.