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James Ajal

James Ajal
I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Crop Production Ecology, Weed Ecology and Management group. My research aims to increase resource use efficiency under both arable and smallholder cropping systems through maximising functional trait diversity in the cropping systems.


My research aims to increase resource use efficiency (especially N) through maintaining crop diversity and multifunctionality under low-input and arable cropping system, for example in the cereal-legume based cropping system. During my PhD study, I evaluated nitrogen economy and other ecological benefits of crop mixtures, with particular attention to species functional traits as summarised in this interview.

Currently, my research focuses on the importance of plant functional traits on plant-plant interactions in general and crop-weed interaction in particular. Within this theme, I study how crop management and the environment influence phenotypic traits of grain legumes (soybean and lupin) and weeds.


I contribute to the following Masters courses:

  1. Experimental approaches in plant growth analysis and phenotyping
  2. Sustainable Plant Production - from Molecular to Field Scale


Research projects;


  • PhD. in Biology specialisation Ecology from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, Sweden.
  • MSc in Plant Sciences from the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands.
  • BSc in Agricultural Sciences and Entrepreneurship, Uganda Christian University, Uganda.

Selected publications

Ajal J, Kiær LP, Pakeman RJ, Scherber C, Weih M. (2022).Intercropping drives plant phenotypic plasticity and changes in functional trait space,
Basic and Applied Ecology (2022)

Ajal, J., Jäck, O., Vico, G., and Weih, M. (2021). Functional trait space in cereals and legumes grown in pure and mixed cultures is influenced more by cultivar identity than crop mixing. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics

Jäck O, Ajal J, Weih M (2021). Altered Nitrogen Availability in Pea–Barley Sole- and Intercrops Changes Dominance of Two Nitrophilic Weed Species. Agronomy. 2021; 11(4):679. 

Weih M, Karley AJ, Newton AC, Kiær LP, Scherber C, Rubiales D, Adam E, Ajal J, Brandmeier J, Pappagallo S, Villegas-Fernández A, Reckling M, Tavoletti S (2021). Grain Yield Stability of Cereal-Legume Intercrops Is Greater Than Sole Crops in More Productive Conditions. Agriculture. 2021; 11(3):255. 

Elhakeem, A., van der Werf, W., Ajal, J., Lucà, D., Claus, S., Vico, R. A., & Bastiaans, L. (2019). Cover crop mixtures result in a positive net biodiversity effect irrespective of seeding configuration. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 285. 

Ajal J, Kiær LP, Pakeman RJ, Scherber C, Weih M (2021) Multi-dimensional trait space in cereal-legume mixtures: an analysis across environments and plant teams. Aspects of Applied Biology, 146, 429-432. 

Ajal, J., & Weih, M. (2022). Nutrient accumulation pattern in mixtures of wheat and faba bean is strongly influenced by cultivar choice and co-existing weeds. Biology, 11(5), 630.

Ajal J (2021) Growth and nitrogen economy of cereal-legume sole- and intercrops, and their effects on weed suppression. PhD Thesis 

Ajal, J (2019) Separating roots in crop mixtures: My Young Researcher Mission to Copenhagen. DIVERSify blog post

Kiær LP and Ajal J (2021) Root overyielding and potential soil carbon


Postdoctor at the Department of Crop Production Ecology; Ogräsekologi
Telephone: +4618671420
Postal address:
Inst för växtproduktionsekologi, Box 7043
Visiting address: Ulls väg 16, Uppsala