Aarhus University Seal

The nitrogen cycle: from microbial transformations to global budgets (2024)

ECTS credits:

Course parameters:
Language: English

Level of course: PhD (Masters and young researchers with strong interest are also welcomed)

No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 125 hours in total, including lectures, exercises, lab and field trips, and assignments, as well as one week of preparatory reading

Capacity limits: 20 participants

Objectives of the course:

The course aims to provide participants with a deeper understanding of:

  • the importance of the nitrogen cycle and of nitrogen losses as nitrous oxide, nitrate leaching, and ammonia volatilization.
  • the main processes involved in nitrogen cycling.
  • methodologies to measure nitrogen pools and fluxes.
  • options to steer nitrogen cycling at the field scale.
  • options to act on nitrogen issues from the perspective of consumers and policymakers.
  • approaches to model nitrogen cycling at different scales.


Learning outcomes and competencies:

At the end of the course, the participants will be able to:

  • have a better understanding of the role of nitrogen for a wide range of ecosystem services and sustainable development goals,
  • have an overall view of the nitrogen flows in agroecosystems and in the food system,
  • describe the key nitrogen transformations in the plant-soil-atmosphere continuum,
  • understand interactions between the nitrogen and carbon biogeochemical cycles,
  • describe the impact of agricultural management practices on nutrient cycling,
  • understand different agricultural systems in relation to nitrogen inputs and outputs, considering their benefits and limitations,
  • use different techniques to measure nitrogen fluxes,
  • discuss dilemmas related to nitrogen cycling in agroecosystems, including trade-offs and policy initiatives.

Name of lecturers:

  • Diego Abalos (Spain), Senior Researcher. Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Responsible for overview on nitrogen cycling and overall course coordination.
  • Klaus Butterbach-Bahl (Germany), Professor. Land-CRAFT center, Aarhus University. Responsible for environmental nitrogen losses from local to global scales.
  • Jan Willem van Groenigen (The Nethelands), Professor. Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Responsible for 15N techniques and the C sequestration-N dilemma.
  • Winnie Ntinyari (Kenya), Postdoc, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Responsible for methodologies to measure nitrogen fluxes at field and lab scale.
  • Clemens Scheer (Germany), Senior Researcher. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany. Responsible for strategies to reduce nitrogen losses.
  • Jim Rasmussen (Denmark), Senior Researcher. Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Responsible for organic nitrogen cycling.
  • Huan Liu (China), Postdoc, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Responsible for model comparison in relation to nitrogen flows.
  • Davide Cammarano (Italy), Professor. Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Responsible for nitrogen management in the context of precision agriculture and climate change adaptation.
  • Diego Grados (Peru), Postdoc. Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University. Responsible for concepts and approaches to model nitrogen cycling.


Type of course/teaching methods:
Lectures, exercises, group work, lab and field trip, final assignment


Course assessment:
Classwork - satisfactory participation in the course; Group work and oral presentation. Prior to the course, each participant should prepare one slide PPT to introduce their research.


Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Postboks 50, DK- 8830 Tjele


Special comments on this course:
The course fee is EUR 600 / DKK 4500.


11-15 November 2024


AU Viborg – Department of Agroecology


The deadline for registration is 30 May 2024. Please register here: https://events.au.dk/nitrogenphd2024

Admission information will be sent out no later than 30 June 2024.

If you have any questions regarding registration, please contact Diego Abalos, e-mail: d.abalos@agro.au.dk

27443 / i43