Research Project: Going Back to the Roots to Transform Soil Health into Yield

Farming practices that promote soil health, such as the use of cover crops, are often touted as feasible approaches to increasing food production while reducing agriculture’s environmental footprint. However, much is yet unknown about the relationship between soil quality and a crop plant’s ability to capitalize on greater soil health to improve input and water use efficiency. This is because today’s crops are often bred to produce high yield in response to high input of synthetic fertilizers.

Dr. Amélie Gaudin’s research will explore the relationship between root systems, soil health promoting practices, and crop productivity. By testing how breeding has impacted corn and tomato plants’ ability to cycle and uptake resources in irrigated and rainfed environments under both optimal and stressful conditions, Dr. Gaudin takes a holistic approach to research that will shed light on how breeders and producers can grow more productive and resilient crops using sustainable practices at a large scale.

About Dr. Gaudin

Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis

gaudin_photo_ffarAmélie Gaudin joined the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis in 2015 as an assistant professor of Agroecology. She obtained a Ph.D. in Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph and worked at various CGIAR centers to increase rice and potato production under drought or less intensive water and nitrogen management in smallholder farming systems. Her current research focus on developing and testing sustainable management practices that have conservation of natural resources, agrobiodiversity and ecosystem services as a basis for yield improvement. She investigates how cropping system management affects the crop and soil mechanisms involved in maintaining or recovering ecosystem services along stress and fertility gradients.

She is also interested in better understanding root system and rhizosphere ecology and their potential to harness improvements in soil health, sequester carbon and decrease crop water and nutrients requirements.