Franco-German Summer-School #DySOM21 on soil organic matter in Freising

For many young researchers in soil science, the necessary COVID-19 restrictions unfortunately also meant a long dry spell of opportunities for contact and inspiration, which are particularly important at the beginning of an academic career. Specific events with a limited number of participants and well realizable hygiene measures can be an important way to scientific exchange in presence. A lively workshop could be realized at the German-French Summer School 'Advancing the analysis of dynamic soil organic matter interfaces across scales under global changes' (short '#DySOM21'), which was organized by Dr. Steffen Schweizer, Dr. Julien Guigue and Dr. Alix Vidal in Freising.

A total of thirty young researchers from all over Europe took part in the Summer School: The participants came mainly from France and Germany, but the PhD students and postdocs also arrived from Scotland, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland. For some of them, it was the first in-presence event since they began their PhD. A first exchange on the diverse working topics of the participants, such as hedge planting, pyrogenic carbon or the modeling of the organic carbon budget and much more, spurred the scientific exchange right at the beginning.

The keynote by Prof. Dr. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, sparked numerous exciting conceptual discussions on the spatial and temporal arrangement of minerals and organic matter with minerals in soils. On the next day, the participants were able to gain a direct insight into different methodological approaches and current research approaches at the Chair of Soil Science of the TU Munich during an extensive laboratory tour. This tour was rounded out by a presentation and discussion of local soil profile pits and applied agricultural science issues with Dr. Peter Schad and PD Dr. Martin Wiesmeier.

A whole range of researchers from the TU Munich introduced the details of different soil science laboratory methods to the participants: Dr. Noelia Garcia-Franco and Christopher Just presented density and aggregate fractionation approaches while Dr. Carmen Höschen, Dr. Steffen Schweizer and Dr. Julien Guigue provided insights into spatial analytical techniques at the micro and macroscale.

On the third day, Dr. Frédéric Rees (ECOSYS, INRAE) dived with us into the fascinating world of root-soil interactions and how carbon is "smuggled" in the rhizosphere. Dr. Naoise Nunan (IEES-Paris/CNRS) introduced the participants to microbial cost-benefit calculations to better understand the background of soil microbiological processes and the influence of hotspots.

On the fourth day, Dr. Stefanie Schulz (Helmholtz Zentrum München) demonstrated the role of soil microbes in the production of exo- and lipopolysaccharides and their relevance in soil. In addition, the exciting possibilities of metagenome analyses in soil science were discussed. In the afternoon, Prof. Dr. Michaela Dippold (University of Tübingen) gave an insightful presentation on the important analytical possibilities using plant and microbial biomarkers and the use of isotope labeling and showed how this can be used to better understand matter cycles in soils.

On the fifth day, it was time to scale up the temporal and spatial process levels, which was impressively arranged by Dr. Pierre Barré (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris) and his presentation on soil carbon pools and their dynamic modeling. In all theme blocks, interactive exercises reinforced the processes and methods discussed and provided many practical tips on data analysis, such as root image analysis, modeling of microbial hotspots in R, evaluation and plausibility checking of DNA and PLFA datasets and asimulation of soil carbon dynamics using AMG modeling.

Being in Freising as a place of far-reaching history of the brewing arts, there was also an opportunity to discover the more than twenty counting breweries of the 16th-19th century in today's townscape of Freising during a city tour and learn more about the origin of beer gardens. The summer school was successfully concluded on Saturday with a hike to the re-grazing experiment on the Brunnenkopfalm, a BonaRes experiment of KIT, TUM and many other project partners.

Especially in these often disconnected times, we hope to establish long-lasting connections between early career scientists in soil science in order to advance and diversify the exchange of ideas in the soil science community. The #DySOM21 Summer School was made possible thanks to the kind support of Commissions II and III of the DBG. The Franco-German University and the Franco-Bavarian University cooperation center also contributed financially to the successful organization of the Summer School.

20-24th September 2021

Pallotti Haus former monastery
Freising, Bavaria, Germany



Monday 20th September

  • Welcome
  • Presentation of the participants
  • Keynote on mineral surfaces and organic matter accumulation in soils
     Prof. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner

Tuesday 21st September

  • SOM pools and soil aggregates
     Noelia-Franco Garcia, Christopher Just & Steffen Schweizer
  • Lab tour at the Chair of Soil Science, Freising-Weihenstephan

Wednesday 22nd September

  • Chemical characterization of soil organic matter
     Michaela Dippold
  • Microbial habitat and activity
     Cordula Vogel
  • Microbial habitat and activity
     Naoise Nunan
  • Applied exercises

Thursday 23rd September

  • Plant-soil interactions
     Frédéric Rees
  • Soil organic matter at the microscale
     Carmen Hoeschen, Steffen Schweizer, Julien Guigue & Alix Vidal
  • Applied exercises

Friday 24th September

  • From SOC kinetic pools quantification to SOC dynamic models
     Pierre Barré
  • Applied exercises
  • Cultural tour: Visit of the Weihenstephan brewery

Saturday 25th September

  • Hiking tour to the Alps visiting a soil science project

Dates & Milestones

Application open until 30. April 2021

Registration in May 2021

Selection of participants

The workshop will be offered to doctoral students and postdocs at early stages of their scientific careers. M.Sc. students doing research on soil organic matter are welcome to apply too. Preference will be given to participants who carry out research related to the course contents in France and Germany while taking into consideration the scientific diversity of the group.

Our COVID-19 strategy

This summer school is intended as non-virtual presence format. We try our best to accommodate the health and safety of all participants. Therefore, we will adapt our hygiene strategy as we get closer to the event. Currently we plan to take advantage of daily self-tests. To be able to maintain at least 1.5 m safety distance at all times we have limited the current number of participants to 22. We will set up a waiting list to enable up to 30 participants to join the summer school, depending on the future restrictions in September. We will decide 1 month prior to the event if the COVID situation will not allow us to meet. We will adapt our strategy as the current situation advances and hope to welcome you in presence as safe as possible in September.

Gratefully supported by