My name is Sarah Duddigan, I’m a PhD student on a collaborative project between the University of Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). I am investigating the effects of adding organic matter (i.e. compost) to garden soils. Primarily focussing on the effects of applying organic matter on:
- The quantity and composition of soil carbon
- Soil properties and plant yield
- The soil microbial community and pathogens
I am based on one of the field research sites at RHS Garden Wisley. Where we have been applying various soil conditioners (composted bark, composted horse manure, garden compost, composted bracken) annually to 80 experimental plots, and soil quality and plant performance are assessed.
Understanding these effects will help us decide how to manage our garden soils for the benefit of our plants and the wider environment.
Using these plots I have been conducting experiments on the decomposition (break down) of organic matter in soils using a novel method referred to as the Tea Bag Index (TBI), but I would like to extend this research into the wider community.
This is where you come in!