Linda-Maria Mårtensson - Active as researcher at SITES Lönnstorp

Meet Associate Senior Lecturer in Cropping Systems, Linda-Maria Mårtensson. Her research focus on agriculture diversification and multi-functionality and sustainable management of soil ecosystem functions. Learn more about her research at SITES Lönnstorp below.

You are active a SITES Lönnstorp in your research, how?

I would say in three ways, I run a research project at the moment, I plan for new funding applications and I use the facility for teaching.

Currently, I am conducting research in the perennial crop production system in SITES Agroecological Field Experiment (SAFE). I am using the baseline measurements, such as yields and nutrient content of harvested fractions. Then I add soil sampling to identify soil microbial communities and compare with those in annual crops in the conventional and organic agroecosystems. I also investigate the impact of intercropping with legumes, to see if the N-budget is improved or not when crops that may contribute with biological nitrogen fixation is included in the field.

I am also writing applications for future research covering more parts of SAFE. Those applications focus on soil ecosystem services and dis-services provided by the different agroecosystems included in SAFE. A perfect scenario would be to investigate all four agroecosystems together with colleagues to bring together as much information, and thus understanding, of the agroecosystem functions.

In addition to my research, I often supervise students from different educational programs and from abroad, and they use Lönnstorp in one way or the other. Examples: baseline data from SAFE, data from other experiments, own data from SAFE or other experiments, as a theoretical model for a literature papers. We also use Lönnstorp in a statistic exercise in the Agroecology master programme.

Collage with various grasslands represented within the BIOINVENT project.
Collage with various grasslands represented within the BIOINVENT project.

Tell us more about your current research project at SITES Lönnstorp!

SAFE holds four agroecosystems replicated in four block (see below for hyperlink to more information about SAFE), which is a fantastic resource for research. The scale is rather large compared to other agricultural field experiments and make the model systems more realistic. I have conducted one project supported by the CRAFOORD FOUNDATION and I am conducting one right now supported by the BIODIVERSA CoFund through FORMAS. Both projects utilize the perennial agroecosystem, where Kernza (perennial wheat grass) is grown alone and as intercrop with Lucerne. The focus is as mentioned above.

In the BIODIVERSA funded project, I will sample Kernza experiments in the surroundings of Lyon, France. We were hoping for a facility corresponding to SAFE at SITES Röbäcksdalen, which would make out a perfect opportunity to study climate effects on several parameters within the agroecosystems, and how they develop over time.

Linda-Maria at a Kernza field. The Land Institute i Kansas US
Linda-Maria at a Kernza field. The Land Institute i Kansas US

Your department is located in Alnarp, very closely to SITES Lönnstorp, how does the availability of this type of research infrastructure effect your research project?

It is beneficial in many ways, it functions as a meeting place where research and practice can be discussed, it opens up for collaborations, it works as an arena for studying the same systems with different approaches, disciplines and aspects to contribute to a more holistic understanding and an improved possibility to suggest solutions for future crop production in a Scandinavian context. It is very inspiring.   

Do you benefit from any user support offered by the SITES Lönnstorp?

Yes, very much. The personnel is interested, engaged and competent. The personnel always contribute in the discussion on the experimental design, to optimise the alignment between requirements of the research project and the technical possibilities at the station, as well as contributing viewpoints based on their different background knowledge. The personnel always take good notice of additional events in the experimental plots. The services, such as management, sampling and sample preparation, are always done with high standard and data are always delivered with high quality. The personnel is also my everyday colleagues and they are very nice people.

How will your research and results influence agricultural cropping systems in the future?

As already mentioned, I hope that I and colleagues can find solutions for improved agriculture in the sense that agriculture should hold a higher level of sustainability than it does today. To study these topics it is very valuable to have access to a facility like SAFE.

Do you have any preliminary findings/results?

Yes… The perennial agroecosystem seem to have more mycorrhiza (symbiotic fungi) than the annual wheat in the conventional system, but we need to explore this in more detail to assess whether this leads to the improved delivery of ecosystem services, such as increased nutrient uptake and improved soil structure!

Kernza growing at SITES Lönnstorp
Kernza growing at SITES Lönnstorp

You also teach at several courses, how do you use SITES Lönnstorp in the education?

Yes, as I also mentioned above the station give the students hands on experience in both agricultural practices and technical equipment, and in research training. For students that are writing literature reviews, Lönnstorp can be used as a case or theoretical model of the topic presented (example is a bachelor thesis about agroforestry in Sweden where the alley cropping system in SAFE was used as a case).

Lönnstorp is part of the national infrastructure SITES. What development potential do you see for research infrastructures in your field of research in the future?

I think such gatherings facilitate the cooperation between different persons and disciplines. They can overarch the organizational boundaries, especially for junior or recent senior scientists, as well as for shy scientists (I add with a self-conscious smile)!

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