In February I received a BSSS student conference grant to attend OrgN 2014, an “international workshop on organic nitrogen and plant nutrition – from molecular mechanisms to ecosystems”. Here I gave an oral presentation on some work that I have conducted during my PhD on separating biotic and abiotic mechanisms of dissolved organic nitrogen (N) removal from grassland soil systems.
The workshop was held in the Swiss Alps in Ascona, at the Monte Verita conference centre, where ca. 50 scientists presented their work on organic N cycling within various systems. The science behind the talks and posters was highly varied and extremely interesting. Through them I became acquainted with state of the art laboratory techniques used in plant nutrition, microbial uptake and soil organic N cycling studies, as well as desktop modelling of plant signalling and nutrient uptake processes. This exposure to the highly specific science of organic N cycling in varying systems enabled me to view my work, which focuses on organic N cycling and transport in grassland soils, in the context of the bigger picture, i.e. achieving sustainable intensification of agriculture with new technologies.
I was also extremely fortunate to be surrounded by an international group of friendly, approachable scientists who were happy to share and discuss their work and ideas. Because of this I have come away from the OrgN workshop with many new connections to my professional network. I would like to thank the British Society of Soil Science for their contribution to my travel and registration costs, without which I could not have attended this workshop.