Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems

The Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department has staff at both the Harpenden and North Wyke sites. We aim to understand, model and manipulate the abiotic and biotic processes in arable and grazed grassland soils to improve the function, resilience and sustainability of farming systems.

Head of Department: Prof.Steve McGrath
Departmental Secretary: Sally Murdoch

Areas of scientific expertise

The Department has internationally-acknowledged expertise in the biology, chemistry and physics of soils and soil processes in arable and grazed grassland systems. It has particular expertise in nutrient and pollutant cycling, especially of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and micronutrients, the recycling of organic manures, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, soil-root interactions, and soil and crop modelling. The Department delivers to Rothamsted's strategic objectives in the areas of sustainable soil and grassland management.

The Department links most closely to the Delivering Sustainable Systems research programme, delivering research on sustainable soil and grassland management. It also delivers research into soil-root interactions to '20:20 Wheat®', on carbon cycling, sequestration and modelling to 'Cropping Carbon', and on micronutrient quality of cereal grains to 'Designing Seeds'.

Research Teams

Sustainable Crop Yields and Quality

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Research includes: Optimisation of micronutrient status in food crops, risk assessment of metals and metalloids in soils, bio-indicators of pollution, focussing on heavy metals and manufactured nanoparticles, biogeochemistry of phosphorus, sulphur and trace elements in soils, microbes and plants.

Modelling Bioenergy Systems

Evaluation of the productivity of perennial energy crops in land use systems, environmental impact of energy crops using a wide range of modelling techniques (including Monte Carlo and scenario simulation)...

Quantifying Sustainability

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Research focusses on evaluating the sustainability of modern agricultural practices and the tradeoffs with the provision of environmental goods and services. An ecosystem services approach has been adopted for use with mathematical models that quantify, value and compare the provision and resilience of provision of goods and environmental services in both space and time and in the face of stresses such as climate change and growth in demand.

Farm Platform National Capability

The world needs innovative solutions for the sustainable intensification of its major agricultural systems. The North Wyke Farm Platform represents a large investment by BBSRC in the future, to not only study but also improve grassland livestock systems in a national and global research asset linked to real-world farming.

Long Term Experiments National Capability

The UK Environmental Change Network  (ECN), together with the Long-Term experiments, Sample Archive and e-RA., comprise the Long Term Experiments National Capability

Department Articles

Publications for 2014

Peer reviewed publications for the Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department

Publications for 2015

Peer reviewed publications for the Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department

Publications for 2013

Peer reviewed publications for the Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department

See also

Atmospheric Pollution

Atmospheric pollution is a major driver of environmental change and can damage human health. Therefore, since the mid-1950s, UK and European legislation and treaties have been implemented to reduce air pollutants. ECN data show that these have been effective.

Yearly Weather Summaries

Monthly and Yearly mean data for Rothamsted Met Station with differences from 30 year long-term average.

UK Soil Observatory

Rothamsted is a Partner in the UK Soil Observatory which provides a portal for accessing UK soils data and underpinning research. These fully described datasets allow users to access information for novel research, for public and private decision making and for general interest groups. These datasets are provided for free, where possible.

Atmospheric Chemistry

Atmospheric pollutants, deposited through wet or dry deposition, whether anthropogenic or natural, may have detrimental effects on ecosystems including microorganisms, plants, animals and humans.

Department Press Releases

Rothamsted Research North Wyke will be at the Livestock Event 2016

Scientists from Rothamsted Research North Wyke are exhibiting this year at the Livestock Event on 6-7th July at the Birmingham NEC. The North Wyke stand, FF364, in the Field Forage exhibition is entitled “How the North Wyke Farm Platform is identifying sustainable solutions for grassland livestock production”.

New research programme set to explore the secrets of profitable crop rotations

Looking beyond the factors affecting crop performance within a season, an ambitious new research programme aims to uncover the features of successful crop rotations. To deliver the programme, Rothamsted Research will work in partnership with NIAB CUF, Lancaster University and the James Hutton Institute, along with 14 other organisations from across the agricultural and horticultural industries. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which commissioned the research, has awarded £1.2m in funding to address challenges in soil and water management across whole rotations.

'UK soils need protecting and restoring'—Prof. Steve McGrath comments on Parliament Soil Health Report

One of the benefits of the UN’s declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils was that the UK Parliament took notice of what is now called “Soil Health”. According to the just-released House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee first report, soil health is multi-faceted, depending on a range of biological, chemical and physical factors.  This is well known to soil scientists and to most of those who work in agriculture.

The future of livestock farming: using long-term datasets to develop measures of sustainability

Researchers from Uruguay this week met with colleagues from Rothamsted Research at the Institute’s sites in North Wyke and Harpenden. The visit marks the start of a new partnership between scientists from Rothamsted Research in the UK and the Instituto Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria (INIA) in Uruguay.

Good news for biodiversity from the world’s oldest ecological experiment at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden

Running continuously since 1856, Park Grass is the world’s oldest ecological experiment and this year marks its 160th anniversary. To celebrate the anniversary and recent findings from the experiment, Rothamsted Research hosted an event on Tuesday 18th May for the public to discuss the global importance of the Park Grass Experiment and to visit the site.

Improving efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser use in China: new UK-China Virtual Centre is launched

A new partnership between researchers in the UK and China has held its first meeting to find ways of improving nitrogen fertiliser use and reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

The new Centre for Improved Nitrogen Agronomy (CINAg) is led by Dr Tom Misselbrook at Rothamsted Research and Professor Fusuo Zhang of China Agricultural University. With a range of partners in the UK and China, the virtual joint centre will work to improve sustainability of Chinese agriculture and long-term food security.

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Employment vacancies - Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems

Nutrient Management Specialist (Ref: 7)

We are seeking a Nutrient Management Specialist who will work within the multidisciplinary environment at Rothamsted Research, interacting with staff in many areas, including plant and crop scientists, agronomists, soil scientists, pest and disease specialists, mathematicians and modellers. Industry and international collaboration will be an important component of this position, including new initiatives such as the UK-China Centre for Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture and initiatives related to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in different countries.

Details of all external vacancies will be posted here as they become available. If you find nothing that interests you this visit, please call again. Unfortunately we do not have the resources to hold CVs against possible future vacancies. We can only accept applications quoting a relevant and appropriate vacancy number.

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EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Click here to view employee info sheet

Department People

title First Name Last Name Department Location
View Miss Elsy Akkari Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mr Anastasios Argyropoulos Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Rhys Ashton Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Miss Deborah Beaumont Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mrs Maureen Birdsey Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Martin Blackwell Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Prof Philip Brookes Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mrs Melanie Brookman Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Enrique Cancer-Berroya Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Laura Cardenas Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Alison Carswell Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Miss Joanna Carter Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mr Kevin Coleman Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Prof Adie Collins Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Andrew Cooke Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Prof John Crawford Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Directorate Harpenden
View Mr Adrian Crosland Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Stelian Curceac Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mr Gordon Dailey Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Adelia De Paula Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Caterina Dell'Aquila Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Miss Liz Dixon Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Neil Donovan Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Jenni Dungait Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Miss Sarah Dunham Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Robert Dunn Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Mark Durenkamp Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Miss Hannah Fleming Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Steve Freeman Agroecology, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Yaoxiang Ge Plant Biology and Crop Science, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mrs Sarah Gilhespy Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Prof Keith Goulding Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Steve Granger Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Andy Gregory Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Bruce Griffith Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Ms Chloe Guyot Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Christopher Hall Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Shivam Haria Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Paul Harris Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Jane Hawkins Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Miss Denise Headon Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Javier Hernandez Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Chris Hodgson Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Claire Horrocks Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr John Hunt Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Arthur Johnston Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Adrian Joynes Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mrs Jennifer Kemp Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mr Gauthier Le Bouedec Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Dr Kate Le Cocq Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Rupert Lloyd Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Dr Nadine Loick Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Andy Macdonald Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr James Maguire Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Miss Martina Masna Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Miss Rachel Matthews Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Cormac McAuliffe Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mr Jamie McFadzean Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Prof Steve McGrath Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Tom Misselbrook Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Ms Maira Mobeen Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mr Andrew Moss Computational and Systems Biology, Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology, Business Information Services, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection Harpenden
View Dr Shibu Muhammed Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mrs Sally Murdoch Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Prof Phil Murray Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Andy Neal Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Miss Yuanzhi Ni Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Mrs Marion North Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Peter North Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Robert Orr Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Paul Poulton Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Prof David Powlson Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Marc Redmile-Gordon Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Andrew Retter Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mr Sam Reynolds Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Dr Benjamin Richard Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Goetz Richter Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Tony Scott Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Anita Shepherd Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Mrs Ruth Skilton Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr David Steele Plant Biology and Crop Science, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Agroecology Harpenden
View Dr Jackie Stroud Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Miss Marijke Struijk Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mrs Kamrun Suravi Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Miss Helena Taylor Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Dr Lindsay Todman Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Christopher Watts Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Colin Webster Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Dr Richard Whalley Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Peter Whalley Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Prof Andy Whitmore Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mrs Wendy Wilmer Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Ms Elise Wommelsdorf Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Mr Martin Worsley Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Dr Lianhai Wu Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems North Wyke
View Ms Yip Ye Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Dr Xiaoxian Zhang Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems
View Dr Fangjie Zhao Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden
View Ms Xiaoyun Zhou Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Harpenden