Deep Frontier

  • Challenging one last frontier: Understanding and improving deep rooting 

Enhance food production in a sustainable way

How are we going to feed the world now and in the future? A profound change of the global food and agricultural system is needed, if we are to nourish today’s 795 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050 (source: FAO).

Most of the valuable arable land in the world is already in use and for various reasons we cannot expand agricultural land into new areas. We therefore have to think differently. The Deep Frontier project which ran from 2016-2020 was addressing this challenge.

While current agricultural cropping systems have limited exploitation of water and nutrients below 1 meters of soil depth, some plant species can grow much deeper root systems. Crops with deeper roots can allow us to exploit unused nutrients and water from deep soil layers hereby increase the sustainability of cropping systems. Deep Frontier developed such systems and studied their resource use, biological effects and carbon sequestration in soil layers down to 5 meters depth.

Unique research facilities 
During the initial stages of the project, Deep Frontier established unique research facilities at the research station Højbakkegaard located about 25 km west of Copenhagen, Denmark. 

The Deep Frontier project is funded by the Villum Foundation and was carried out by:


ROOT TOWERS Professor Kristian Thorup-Kristensen and Ass. Professor Dorte Bodin Dresbøll, both from Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences at University of Copenhagen, introduces the Deep Frontier Project and give a guided tour of the root tower facilities built during the Deep Frontier project.
RESULTS AND FINDINGS Professor and Project Leader Kristian Thorup-Kristensen, Dept. of Plant and Environmental Science, University of Copenhagen tells us about the major findings and results gained from the Deep Frontier project that focused on studying the potential of deep rooted crops.
CARBON STORAGE AND MICROBIOTA IN DEEP SOIL Jørgen E. Olesen, Dept. of Agroecology, Aarhus University and Mette Haubjerg Nicolaisen, Dept. of Plant and Environmental Science, University of Copenhagen explains the work done in the Deep Frontier project on carbon storage and soil-root microbiota interaction
THE DEEP ROOT LAB Professor and Project Leader Kristian Thorup-Kristensen, Dept. of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen talk us through the field facilities established for studying deep roots during the Deep Frontier project. See more at: deepfrontier.org

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Follow Deep Frontier and other research projects related to growth and functions of deep-roots and their benefits for agricultural system on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The social media channels are set up as a joint activity by Copenhagen University.


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