Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows


Richard Whalley

+44 (0) 1582 763 133 ext: +44 1582 938486
Rothamsted Research, West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ

Soil Science web page

Past Projects
Principal Investigator
  • Modelling the path to better soil-applied pesticides
Project Leader
  • Bio-physics of the soil-root interface
  • BBSRC Quota Studentship: Root developmental responses to heterogeneous water and nitrogen supply
  • Non-invasive acoustic-seismic sensing of soils
  • Lawes Trust Studentship: The influence of roots on soil structure: physio-chemical implications
  • Lawes Trust Studentship: Organic nitrogen losses from buffer zones: interactions with soil structure and hydrological pathways
  • Soil resource interactions
  • Phenotyping root function in wheat
  • Measuring and quantifying the abiotic stress in the root environment
  • Managing soil physical properties to maximise wheat yield
  • *An optical calibration function and process for a dielectric tensiometer sensor of the matric potential of soil
  • An integrated approach to increasing water use efficiency and drought tolerance in wheat production in the UK
  • BBSRC Quota studentship: Investigating genetic and environmental factors that control root and shoot architecture in wheat
  • DTP Studentship: Exploring the genetic and mechanistic basis of resistance to Take-all disease in wheat

Peer reviewed papers 2005 to Present

  1. Bird, N.R.A.,  Preston, A. R., Randall, E. W., Whalley ,W.R. and Whitmore, A.P. (2005) Measurement of the size-distribution of water-filled pores at different matric potentials by STRAFI-NMR relaxation-time measurements. European Journal of Soil Science. 56: 135-143.
  2. Whalley, W.R., Riseley, B., Leeds-Harrison, P.B., Bird, N.R.A., Leech  P.K. and Adderley, W.P. (2005) Structural differences between bulk and rhizosphere soil. European Journal of Soil Science. 56: 353-360.
  3. Murungu, F.S., Nyamugafata, P., Chiduza, C., Clark, L.J., Whalley, W.R. (2005) Effects of ‘on-farm’ seed priming, water potential, variety and seed size on germination of maize (Zea mays L.) and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). South African Journal of Plant and Soil. 22:64-70.
  4. Löfkvist, J., Whalley,W.R. and Clark, L.J.  (2005) A rapid screening method for identifying cultivars with roots that can penetrate strong soil: Comparison of species with very different root morphology. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica B. Soil and Plant Science. 55:120-124.
  5. Watts, C.W., Whalley, W.R., Whitmore, A. P., Brookes, P.C. and Devonshire, B.J. (2005) Biological and physical processes that mediate micro-aggregation of clays. Soil Science. 170: 573-583.
  6. Whalley, W.R., Leeds-Harrison, P.B., Clark, L.J., and Gowing, D.J.G. (2005) The use of effective stress to predict the penetrometer resistance of unsaturated agricultural soils. Soil and Tillage Research. 84: 18-27.
  7. Clark, L.J., Gowing, D.J.G., Lark, R.M., Leeds-Harrison, P.B., Miller, A.J., Wells, D.M., Whalley, W.R. and Whitmore A.P. (2005) Sensing the physical and nutritional status of the root environment in the field: a review of progress and opportunities. Journal of Agricultural Science. 143: 347-358.
  8. Whalley, W.R., Clark, L.J., Gowing, D.J.G., Cope, R.E., Lodge, R.J. and Leeds-Harrison, P.B.(2006). Does soil strength play a role in wheat yield losses caused by soil drying? Plant and Soil 280: 279-290.
  9. Gregory, A.S., Whalley, W.R., Watts, C.W., Bird, N.R.A., Hallett, P.D. and Whitmore, A.P. (2006) Calculation of the compression index and the precompression stress from soil compression test data. Soil and Tillage Research. 89: 45-57.
  10. Whalley, W.R., To J., Kay, B.D. and Whitmore, A.P. (2007) Prediction of the penetrometer resistance of agricultural soils with models with few parameters. Geoderma. 137: 370-377.
  11. Zhao, F-J., Lopez-Bellido, F.J., Gray, C.W., Whalley, W.R.,  Clark, L.J. and  McGrath, S.P. (2007) Effects of soil compaction and irrigation on selenium and arsenic concentrations in wheat grain. Science of the Total Environment. 372: 433-439.
  12. Whalley, W.R., Clark, L.J., Take, W.A, Bird, N.R.A., Leech, P.K., Cope, R.E. and Watts, C.W. (2007) A porous-matrix sensor to measure the matric potential of soil water in the field. European Journal of Soil Science. 58, 18–25.
  13. Macleod, C.J.A.,  Binley,  A., Hawkins, S.L., Humphreys, M.W., Turner, L.B., Whalley, W.R. and Haygarth, P.M., (2007) Genetically modified hydrographs: what can grass genetics do for temperate catchment hydrology? Hydrological Processes. 21: 2217-2221
  14. Gregory, A.S., Watts, C.W., Whalley, W.R., Kuan, H.L., Griffiths, B.S., Hallett, P.D. and Whitmore, A.P. (2007). Physical resilience of soil to field compaction and the interactions with plant growth and microbial community structure. European Journal of Soil Science. 58: 1221-1232.
  15. Whalley, W.R., Watts C.W., Gregory, A.S., Mooney S.J., Clark, L.J. and Whitmore, A.P.  (2008) The effect of soil strength on the yield of wheat. Plant and Soil. 306: 237-247.
  16. Clark,L.J., Ferraris,S., Price, A.H.  and Whalley, W.R. (2008) A gradual rather than abrupt increase in strength gives better root penetration of strong layers. Plant and Soil. 307: 235-242.
  17. Matthews, G.P., Watts, C.W., Powlson, D.S., Price, J.C. and Whalley, W.R.  (2008) Wetting of agricultural soils measured by a simplified capillary rise technique. European Journal of Soil Science. 59: 817-823.
  18. NortonG.J., AitkenheadM.J., KhowajaF.S., Whalley W.R.and Price, A.H. (2008) A bioinformatic and transcriptomic approach to identifying positional candidate genes without fine mapping; an example for rice root growth QTLs. Genomics. 92: 344-352.
  19. Clark L.J., Price A.H., Steele K.A. and Whalley, W.R. (2008) Evidence from near-isogenic lines that root penetration increases with root diameter and bending stiffness in rice. Functional Plant Biology. 35: 1163-1171.
  20. Whitmore A.P. and Whalley W.R. (2009) Physical effects of soil drying on roots and crop growth. Journal of Experimental Botany. 60: 2845–2857.
  21. Whalley, W.R., Lock, G., Jenkins, M., Peloe, T., Burek, K., Balendonck, J., Take, W.A., Tuzel, İH. and Tuzel, Y. (2009) Measurement of low matric potentials with porous matrix sensors and water-filled tensiometers. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 73 :1796-1803.
  22. Matthews, G. P., G. M. Laudone, A. S. Gregory, N. R. A. Bird, A. G. D. G. Matthews, and W. R. Whalley (2010) Measurement and simulation of the effect of compaction on the pore structure and saturated hydraulic conductivity of grassland and arable soil. Water Resources Research 46: W05501, doi:10.1029/2009WR007720
  23. Gregory, A.S., Webster, C.P., Watts, C.W., Whalley, W.R., Macleod C.J.A., Joynes, A., Papadopoulos, A., Haygarth, P.M.,  Binley A.,  Humphreys, M.W.,  Turner L.B., Skot, L. and Matthews G.P. (2010) Soil management and grass species effects on the hydraulic properties of Shrinking Soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74: 753–761
  24. Gregory, A.S., Bird, N.R.A., Whalley, W.R., Matthews, G.P., and Young I.M. (2010) Deformation and shrinkage effects on the soil water release characteristic. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74:1104–1112
  25. Gregory, A.S., Bird, N.R.A., Whalley W.R. and Matthews G.P. (2010) Estimating relative hydraulic conductivity from the water release characteristic of a shrinking clay soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74:1113–1118
  26. Dodd,I.C., Egea, G., Watts,C. and Whalley, W.R. (2010) Root water potential integrates discrete soil physical properties to influence ABA signalling during partial rootzone drying. Journal of Experimental Botany. 16: 3543–3551
  27. DeJong, J., Soga, K. Banwart, S., Whalley, W.R., Ginn, T., Barkouki, T., Nelson, D., Mortensen, B. and Brian Martinez M. (2011) Soil Engineering In-vivo: Harnessing Natural Bio-Geo-Chemical Systems for Sustainable Multi-Functional Engineering Solutions.  Proceedings of the Royal Society Interface. 8: 1-15
  28. Whitmore, A.P., Whalley, W.R., Bird, N.R.A., Watts, C.W.  and Gregory, A.S. (2011) Estimating soil strength in the rooting zone of wheat. Plant and Soil. 339:363–375
  29. Powlson, D.S., Gregory, P.J., Whalley, W.R., Quinton, J.N., Hopkins, D.W., Whitmore, A.P. and Goulding, K.W.T. (2011) Soils in relation to sustainable agriculture and ecosystem services. Food Policy. 36: S72–S87
  30. Whalley, W.R., Jenkins, M. and Attenborough K. (2011) The velocity of shear waves in saturated soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 75:1652–1657
  31. Chapman, N., Whalley, W.R., Lindsey, K. and Miller, A.J. (2011) Water supply and not nitrate concentration determines primary, but not secondary root growth in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell and Environment. 34: 1630–1638
  32. Markgraf, W., C.W., Watts, Whalley, W.R., Hrkac, T. and HornR. (In press) Influence of organic matter on rheological properties of soil. Applied Clay Science. In press
  33. Dodd, I.C., Whalley, W.R., Ober, E.S. and Parry, M.A.J. (In press) Genetic and management approaches to boost UK wheat yields by ameliorating water deficits. Journal of Experimental Botany. In press
  34. Laudone, G.M., Matthews, G.P., Bird, N.R.A., Whalley, W.R., Cardenas, L.M. and Gregory, A.S. (In press) A model to predict the effects of soil structure on denitrification and N2O emission. Journal of Hydrology. In press.
  35. Gao, W., Ren, T., Bengough A.G., Auneau, L., Watts, C.W. and Whalley W.R. (In press) Predicting penetrometer resistance from the compression characteristic of soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal. In press


Measures of esteem


  • Honorary Associate Professor at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • German Society of Soil Science meeting on Development of soil structure and function (Key note speaker)


  • Member of the BBSRC pool of experts to review grant applications
  • Key note speaker at a Rank Prize meeting
  • International Scientific Program Comittee for the VIII Symposium of the International Society for Root Research


  • Member of unsaturated-zone technical committee of the EGU
  • Member of the Institution of Professional Soil Sci