Zoek medewerkers/organisaties dr. JA Helfenstein
Naamdr. JA Helfenstein

OmschrijvingUniversitair docent
OrganisatieDepartement Omgevingswetenschappen
OrganisatieeenheidBodemgeografie en Landschap
Telefoon secretariaat
Telefoon 2
Notitie voor telefonist
Notitie door telefonist
BezoekadresDroevendaalsesteeg 3
PostadresPostbus 47
  • Geen nevenwerkzaamheden -
    nov 2022 - Nu


Addressing global environmental challenges requires bringing together different scientific disciplines and stakeholders from outside academia. That is why my research and education focuses on building bridges between scientific disciplines and non-academic stakeholders to find real-world solutions. I am specialized both in soil science and land system science (the study of land use as a socio-ecological system)

I joined the SGL group in November 2022 after three years as a postdoctoral researcher at Agroscope, Switzerland. I received my PhD in 2019 from ETH Zürich.

My research as a soil scientist has focused on nutrient cycling in soils, working on exciting and relevant topics from analyzing how soil properties affect human malnutrition in central India, to developing a novel method to estimate soil phosphorus turnover, and thus allowing for the improved representation of the phosphorus cycle in global land surface models. As a land use scientist, I developed an assessment framework to predict trends of ecosystem services at the regional-national level, and have analyzed changes in land use intensity and impacts on farmer livelihoods across Europe. Since 2021 I am also a scientific advisor and member of the board of Honesta, a farmer-led initiative for developing biodiversity-friendly farming systems. My future research will bring these themes together by investigating the interplay of agricultural land use intensity and soil quality across spatial and temporal scales to co-create agricultural systems that meet the demands of tomorrow. 


Onderzoeker ID's


2021-2022 Co-design of pixel and strip cropping field experiments with farmers. Analysis of crop performance and soil quality along a crop diversity gradient. 

2019-2023 SIPATH: Sustainable intensification pathways. Assessing agricultural development pathways across Europe and defining sustainable futures. Coordinating farmer interviews and landscape mapping. 

2018-2022 Integrating soil phosphorus cycling in global land surface models. 

2015-2019 Soil development and phosphorus cycling along a climatic gradient. Field sampling, radio- and stable isotopic analyses, microspectroscopic analyses, dust transport modelling. 

2015 Impact of soil quality and farm management on wheat quality in central India. Field sampling, soil analyses, and farmer interviews. 

2014 Relationship between soybean nutrition and disease susceptibility. Glasshouse experiments and pathogen / pest assays. 

2013 Assessment of state and trends of ecosystem services in Switzerland. Literature review.


I am a passionate educator and mentor, keen on creating a nourishing, safe, and welcoming environment, which brings out the best in students and colleagues. In our rapidly changing world, it is hard to predict what the future will bring. My goal as a teacher is to equip students with solid understanding of basic concepts, methodological know-how, and soft skills that are relevant for their future, no matter where they will one day work.

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