Dr. Hongjie Zhang

Research Scientist-Soil Carbon Cycling/Agronomy

The goal of my research program is to increase soil carbon (C) sequestration and agricultural productivity for increasing the resiliency of agroecosystems. My research focuses on investigation the effects of soil management and agricultural practices on turnover of C and nitrogen (N) inputs to soil, formation of stable soil organic matter and accumulation in cropping and livestock systems that enhance soil C sequestration and crop production.  

Current research and/or projects

  • Project lead - Understanding soil organic carbon sequestration with land use in prairie agroecosystems. Focused on using synchrotron-based C K-edge X-ray Absorption Near-Edge Structure (XANES) and solid 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (13C-NMR) to identify chemical speciation associated with C sequestration
  • Participated project - An integrated approach for accelerating genetic improvement of yield and agronomic characteristics of chickpea (2023-2028). Focused on tracing the C fate in plant and soil through 13C isotopic labelling approach and Master student supervision
  • Participated projects - Grassland Genomics for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation (2024-2028; Genome Canada project) and predicting carbon sequestration potential using genomic tools and artificial intelligence. Focused on investigation effects of plant diversities on soil C stocks across the Canadian prairies (Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta) and PhD student supervision

Research and/or project statements

  • Investigate best management practices such as crop rotation, tillage, manure management and grazing management effects on soil C sequestration and crop production
  • Apply traditional and advanced technologies such as solid 13C-NMR and XANES spectroscopy to study SOC cycling
  • Characterize SOC chemical speciation and study persistence of SOC under long-term changes in land use and crop rotation
  • Study the fate of C and N in plant-soil systems using 13C and 15N isotopic labelling approaches  

Education and awards

Ph.D. Land Resource Science, University of Guelph

M.Sc. Soil Science, China Agricultural University