Dr Caroline Meharg & Professor Andy Meharg
Queen’s University Belfast
Exploiting inorganic and organic waste streams as rice plant fertilisers.
Caroline and Andy Meharg have two RC-UK funded projects on rice, one BBSRC-GCRF and one NERC-Newton Critical Zone grant. The BBSRC study is to investigate if ash that results from domestic biomass burning can be used as an inorganic fertiliser for rice in Bangladesh as virtually all agronomic organic waste-streams are used for kitchen fuel, leading to sustained stripping of nutrients from soil. The NERC- investigation is to investigate the use of peri-urban agronomic waste streams (such as slurries from animal production) can be used as alternatives to mineral nitrogen fertilizers in Chinese rice cultivation, taking into the account that these slurries will have potential positive (enhanced OM inputs) and negative (AMR, toxic metals and pharmaceuticals) impacts on soils, ecosystems or resultant crop food-safety. For both projects RNAseq is used to determine the rice plant and fungal response to fertiliser applications, Amplicon sequencing to assess impacts on soil microbial biomass response, and soil and plant chemistry by ICP-MS approaches. The work is underpinned by 3 Commonwealth Scholarship PhD studentships on integrated topics.