Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, a multidisciplinary soil scientist

Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
Chair of Soil Science
Technical University of Munich

The 2015 Philippe Duchaufour Medal is awarded to Ingrid Kögel-Knabner for her fundamental and ground-breaking work on the dynamics and stabilisation of soil organic matter in soils from a basic-chemistry and organo-mineral interactions perspective.

I received my doctorate from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, in 1987. In 1992 I became a professor of soil science and soil ecology at the Ruhr-Univeristät Bochum.I joined the Life Sciences Center of Technische Universität München (TUM) in 1995 as Professor in Soil Science. Since 2011 I am also a Carl von Linde Senior Fellow at the TUM Institute for Advanced Study.

Ingrid, with many soil samples in the lab.
Ingrid, with many soil samples in the lab.

Continue reading

Eric Brevik’s work awarded by Geoderma

The review paper The use of electromagnetic induction techniques in soils studies, by James A. Doolittle and Eric Brevik, has been awarded as the Geoderma’s Best Review of 2014. The Geoderma Best Paper Awards are chosen every year since 2013. Candidates are nominated by the Geoderma Editorial Board and a short-list is then created for voting by the editorial Board. The winner of the Geoderma Best Paper Award receives 1 year promotional access to the paper, a certificate and a gift voucher. This paper and the rest of winning articles are freely available until July 2016. Continue reading

Meet Alexander Remke (OSP Award 2013)

Alexander Remke
Alexander Remke

Who I am

I am a diploma student at the department of Physical Geography, Trier University (Germany). I work in the field of experimental rill erosion research. My main activity and diploma thesis focuses on terrestrial close-range-photogrammetry.

The awarded poster presents terrestrial photography as a method to identify sediment sources in eroding rills as an extension of the existing in-field rill experiments.


Soil Erosion caused by water is, beneath human activity, one of the main causes for global soil loss. Especially water that is moving in rills seems to have a large fraction in the overall amount of lost soil. In order to assess this amount of eroded material, we set up a rill experiment, which is in use for about eight years now. Many parameters like shear strength, inclination, flow velocity were gathered before and during the rill experiment, but the exact places of the sediment sources were still unknown. Therefore a device (GNAG = Geländenahabtastgerät = short range surface sensoring device) was to be conceptualized that would enable us to identify these sources using terrestrial close-range-photogrammetry.


As we could not find any literature concerning rill erosion and photogrammetry in close connection, we had to adapt the means of aerial photogrammetry to our ‘flight altitude’ of around one meter above ground. Several cameras and mountings were used and different software environments were tested.

Method and its Evolution

At an elementary stage, we decided that the simultaneous employment of two identical inexpensive cameras (‘stereo pictures’) would be more sensible than the repeated installation of one (expensive) digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera. Despite that, we decided to take pictures with both camera systems in the first experiments for comparison purposes.


In the end we found out that a push-rod mounting with a balljoint mounted on top of a tripod would be an affordable equipment. The balljoint is necessary to compensate the influences of the topography (inclination).

The software to be applied has to be highly adjustable, affordable and, in contrast to e.g. Leica photogrammetry suite, it has to be able to work without ground control points. Therefore, we decided to use an open-source product, VisualSFM, which contains the structure-from-motion-technology. This software is able to create a 3-D-point cloud out of the glut of images, which finally can be transformed into three-dimensional solids. With the help of the two solids that belong to each rill experiment (before experiment/after experiment), we are enabled to (a) estimate the differences in volume and (b) identify places were soil is detached and accumulated.


In February/March 2013, several hundred pictures of three rills in Navarra/Spain were taken, afterwards 3-D-point clouds and resulting models have been computated. Our experience shows that rills having a length of about 20m are hard to computate because of the vast reconstruction time required. It also showed us that the use of a single DSLR is only reasonable in addition to the ‘stereo pictures’ made by the GNAG.


We will double the number of mounted cameras to systematically increase the number of camera positions. This will enable us to get the minimum overall number of indispensable images and simultaneously increase the quality of point clouds and resulting solids by ensuring a constant overlap between the picture sets.



Wirtz, S.; Iserloh, T.; Rock, G.; Hansen, R.; Marzen, M.; Seeger, M.; Betz, S.; Remke, A.; Wengel, R.; Butzen, V.; Ries, J.B. (2012): Soil Erosion on Abandoned Land in Andalusia: A Comparison of Interrill- and Rill Erosion Rates. ISRN Soil Science, Volume 2012, Article ID 730870, 16p.
Wirtz, S.; Seeger, M.; Remke, A.; Wengel, R.; Wagner J.F.; Ries, J.B. (2013): Do deterministic sediment detachment and transport equations adequately represent the process-interactions in eroding rills? An experimental field study. Catena 101, 61-78. 


co authors

Johannes B. „Chef du tout“ Ries:

Prof. Dr. Johannes B. Ries is the driving force behind the whole erosion research programme at Trier University. His dedication convinces us to carry on experimental work even under sickening weather conditions.

Dr. Manuel „Troubleshooter“ Seeger:

No problem in the study area is big enough, not to be solved by Manuel within the shortest span of time. He is the person, who is constantly watching that all the different experiments are carried out in a way that ensures the possibility of connecting the results.

Dr. Stefan „The Rill“ Wirtz:

Stefan is inventor and permanent improver of the in-field rill-experiment. His “scary” kind of leadership encourages us to do an accurate job and he therefore usually delivers highly satisfactory results.

Olli “The Nerd” Gronz:

Olli is the man who is responsible for all endless tasks concerning computer and software. Without his skills, the structure-from-motion-project would have suffered from much more delay. He won’t ever be found out in the field because of his aversion of dust and dirt.

Kerstin “Sponge” Becker:

Faster than Google, Kerstin instantly knows where to find all kinds of files, things and instruments. For approximately half a year, she is all smiles and graces and therefore now an indispensable member of our little rill-erosion-research group.

Meet Alex

  • E-mail:
  • Dpt. of Physical Geography, FB VI — Geography/Geosciences, Trier University, Campus II, Behringstr., D-54286 Trier, Germany

Meet Claudia Guidi (OSP Award 2013)

IMG_2538Claudia Guidi has received the EGU Outstanding Student Poster (OSP) Award for her presentation “Changes in SOC stocks and fractions after natural afforestation of alpine grasslands“.

Who is Claudia?

Claudia is a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and at Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy. She obtained her MSc degree in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pisa and at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, where she was holder of a full scholarship.

Soil organic carbon changes after forest expansion on mountain grasslands

In the Alps and Mediterranean mountains, forest area is currently increasing, due to an abandonment of agricultural marginal areas. Land-use change can induce significant alterations in soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, causing C sequestration or CO2 release, having therefore an impact on global warming. While an accumulation of SOC in the forest floor is common after woody expansion on grassland, the impact on the mineral soil is still unclear.

Forest invasion on a grassland area, Trentino (Italy).
Forest invasion on a grassland area, Trentino (Italy).

With our research activity, we want to identify potential changes in soil organic carbon, looking both to the stock of organic carbon in soil and to the different fractions which compose the total organic carbon.

To achieve this goal, we compared four land uses (managed grassland, abandoned grassland, natural afforestation and a reference forest), located in a pre-Alpine area in Trentino (Italy). To assess changes in SOC stocks, we sampled soils to a maximum depth of 30 cm and we determined bulk density, stoniness, root biomass and organic carbon content.

Soil core extracted from a grassland site.
Soil core extracted from a grassland site.

In order to detect changes in the different SOC fractions, we performed an aggregate size fractionation and a size-density fractionation procedure.

Our preliminary result shows no significant change in total soil organic carbon stocks among land uses, but an overall improvement in soil aggregation in forested sites compared to grassland ones.

SOC becomes stored mainly in large macroaggregates following afforestation: this can be probabily due to a different rooting system between grassland and forest ecosytems.

Moreover first results of size-density fractionation suggest that with grassland afforestation there is there is a shift from stable to more labile SOC pool, such as an increase of carbon stored in the particulate organic matter fraction.

Our results underline the importance of fractionation analysis to identify changes in soil organic carbon with land use change. No change in total organic carbon does not mean that there is not modification in organic carbon. The organic carbon can be allocated to different fractions, therefore becoming more or less stable against disturbance.


You can contact Claudia at:

  • E-mail:
  • Sustainable Agro-ecosystems and Bioresources Department, IASMA Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, San Michele all’Adige, Italy

Meet Andra-Rada Iurian (OSP Award 2013)

Andra-Rada Iurian has received the EGU Outstanding Student Poster (OSP) Award for her presentation “The uncertainty given by the input parameters in the radiometric modelling of soil redistribution rates“.

Who is Andra?

AndraAndra-Rada Iurian is currently finishing the PhD studies at the Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania. Her research interests includes: (i) the application of fallout radionuclides (137Cs, 210Pb and 7Be) to assess the rates and characteristics of soil redistribution, (ii) environmental radioactivity measurements through gamma and alpha-ray spectrometry, and (iii) radioecology. Her PhD project is focused on the application of fallout radionuclides in soil erosion and sedimentation studies and it is conducted under the guidance of Prof. Constantin Cosma. The poster at the EGU General Assembly 2013 presented an alternative method to statistically derive the effective diffusion coefficient and the convective velocity of 137Cs in undisturbed soils. It was also highlighted the impact of the different input parameters of the Diffusion and Migration Model on the calculated soil erosion magnitude. In a subsequent study, the undersigned also tested for the first time in her country the combined use of 137Cs and 210Pb to quantify soil erosion changes in cultivated fields at different temporal scales.

Selected publications

A.R. Iurian, Arsenio Toloza, Joseph Adu-Gyamfi, Constantin Cosma, Spatial distribution of 7Be in soils of Lower Austria after heavy rains (submitted to Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry in April 2013).

A.R. Iurian, L. Mabit, R. Begy, C. Cosma, 2013, Comparative assessment of erosion and deposition rates on cultivated land in the Transylvanian Plain of Romania using 137Cs and 210Pbex, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, (in press).

A.R. Iurian, Robert Begy, Constantin Cosma, 2012, Results of medium-term soil redistribution rates in Cluj county, Romania, using 137Cs measurements, Procedia Environmental Sciences, Vol. 14, Pg. 22–31.

C. Cosma, A.R. Iurian, C.D. Nita, R. Begy, C. Cîndea, 2012, Indicators of the Fukushima radioactive release in NW Romania, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Special Issue: Environmental Impacts of the Fukushima Accident (PART II), Volume 114, Pg.1-6.

C.Cosma, A.R.Iurian, D.C.Niţă, R.Begy, C.Cîndea, 2011, Considerations about the presence of Fukushima radionuclides in the NW part of Romania, Romanian Journal of Physics, Vol. 56, No.9-10, Pg. 1999-2007

A.R. Iurian, W. Hofmann, H. Lettner, R. Türk, C. Cosma, 2011, Long term study of Cs-137 concentrations in lichens and mosses, Romanian Journal of Physics, Vol. 56, No. 7-8, Pg. 983-992.


A.R. Iurian, C. Cosma, W. Hofmann, 2012, Chernobyl radionuclides in environmental samples from Romania&Austria, LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing GmbH & Co. KG Heinrich-Böcking-Str. 6-8 66121, Saarbrücken, Germany, ISBN 978-3-8465-8293-0, Editor Tatiana Melnic, 73 pp.

Makhosazana Sika: Biochar and soil researcher

Makhosazana was born to be a soil scientist!

Makhosazana Sika grew up in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. Having lived in a city throughout her childhood, she would not have guessed a decade ago that she would call a small town in the Cape Winelands District her other home. Continue reading

Adrianna Marchand: traveller, social ecologist, systems thinker, hole digger, soil maven

Why soils?  Well, this is a constant invigorated by my passion and wonder for a dynamic, complex habitat that is as resilient as it is fragile, especially in human hands.

How I came to be a soil scientist shares a path with the unconventional and is far more irregular than the unrelenting passion driving my love of regolith.   Continue reading