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Root-derived soil organic carbon accumulation (WurCel)


The aim of the WurCel project ("Wurzel" is German for "root" and "C" stands for "Carbon") is to identify the potential to increase soil organic carbon content in agricultural soils by selecting species and varieties with high root biomass



  • Root sampling of main and catch crops in field trials throughout Germany
  • Investigation of the effects of a 20% reduction in nitrogen fertilisation on root biomass
  • Investigation of the likely scenario of elevated atmospheric CO2 levels as is expected in the future and its effects on root growth in several wheat varieties with a Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiment
  • Process-based soil carbon models to estimate the potential of soil organic carbon accumulation through the choice of species and varieties with high root biomass


Climate effect under consideration

Carbon sequestration in arable soils through increased root biomass of main and catch crops

Contact persons

Thünen Institute, Institute of Climate-Smart Agriculture

Prof. Dr. Axel Don

Dr. Laura Reinelt

Fenja Steinberg

JKI, Institute for Crop and Soil Sciences

Dr. Lorenz Kottmann

Dr. Sigrun Wagner

Links to project pages:  WurCel / Thünen und WurCel / JKI

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