Soil and Plant Scientist

Head of Sustainable Agriculture Sciences - Harpenden

Sustainable Agriculture Sciences


Steve’s research interests are in increasing understanding of the factors affecting the bio-availability, ecotoxicology and mobility of nutrients and toxins in soil-crop systems. He is skilled in using stable and radioisotopes to trace the movement and sources of nutrients and contaminants in soils and plants; and in LC-ICP-MS, synchrotron and NanoSIMs to identify the speciation and localisation of trace elements. His latest research focuses on developing rapid techniques for the analysis of soils and plants to predict the transfer of nutrients, including micronutrients, into the food chain, to improve crop yields, human and animal health and nutrition.




    +44 (0) 1582 938 631


      Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, AL5 2JQ



        • 2014
          McGrath, S. P.,Blackwell, M. S. A.,Comans, R. N. J.,Koopmans, G. F.,Van Dijk, K. C.,Van Rotterdam, D.,Bussink, W.,Delgado, A.,Gustafsson, J. P.,Merckx, R.,Smolders, E.,Frossard, E.,Oberson, A.

          Understanding the bioavailability of new and old phosphorus to crops

          SCOPE Newsletter 106 : pp.20-21

        • 2013
          McGrath, S. P.

          Responses of high-yielding wheat to micronutrient applications

          Landmark 16 : pp.12-14
          doi: NONE

        • 2005
          McGrath, S. P.

          Industrial [pollution]

          : pp.282-287

        • 2003
          McGrath, S. P.

          Sulphur: a secondary? Not anymore!

          New AG International March 2003 : pp.70-76

        • 2001
          McGrath, S. P.

          Sustainable sulphur and trace elements in soils?

          Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England 162 : pp.133-140

        • 2001
          McGrath, S. P.

          How organisms live with heavy metals in the environment (Fact Sheet on Environmental Risk Assessment 2)

          : pp.4pp

        • 1998
          Spiro, B.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Sulphur in soils

          NERC News Winter 1998 : pp.8-9

        • 1998
          McGrath, S. P.,Dunham, S. J.,Atkin, R. K.

          An extracting science

          Chemistry and Industry 22 : pp.915-918

        • 1998
          Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Fertilisation soufree du colza en Grande-Bretagne

          Oleoscope 43(Jan/Fev) : pp.19-20

        • 1997
          McGrath, S. P.

          Rothamsted workshop on soil remediation - current research and future requirements

          Nicole News 2(1) : pp.3

        • 1996
          McGrath, S. P.

          Plants clean-up soils

          BBSRC Science Brief 4 : pp.8-9

        • 1995
          Baker, A. J. M.,McGrath, S. P.,Sidoli, C. M. D.,Reeves, R. D.

          The potential for heavy metal decontamination

          Mining Environmental Management September : pp.12-14

        • 1994
          Witter, E.,Giller, K. E.,McGrath, S. P.

          Long-term effects of metal contamination on soil microorganisms

          Soil Biology and Biochemistry 26 : pp.421-422

        • 1992
          McGrath, S. P.,Giller, K. F.

          What to do with sewage sludge?

          Biologist 38(3) : pp.75

        • 1991
          McGrath, S. P.

          Controversy over sewage sludge

          Farmers Weekly 115(24) : pp.8

        • 1991
          Mcewen, J.,Yeoman, D. P.,McGrath, S. P.

          Effects of pH, phosphate and manganese on spring-sown Vicia faba L.

          Fabis Newsletter 27 : pp.18-20

        • 1989
          Giller, K. E.,McGrath, S. P.

          Muck, metals and microbes.

          New Scientist 124(1689) : pp.31-32

        • 1987
          McGrath, S. P.,Johnston, A. E.

          Le soufre en Grande-Bretagne.

          Perspectives Agricoles 111 : pp.45-47

        • 1987
          McGrath, S. P.,Cunliffe, C. H.,Pope, A. J.

          Lead, zinc, cadmium, copper and nickel concentrations in the topsoils of England and Wales.

          : pp.52-58

        • 1987
          McGrath, S. P.,Brookes, P. C.,Giller, K. E.

          Long-term biological effects of applying metal-contaminated sewage sludge to soil.

          : pp.372-376


        Strategic programme

        • Soil 2 Nutrition (S2N)

        Science project

        • Africa Soil Information Service
        • Optimising sulphur management to maximise oilseed rape and cereal yields and farm profitability

        PhD project

        • Soil health metrics for sustainable farming systems


        • 2015 - Fellow, Institute Soil Science
        • 1996 - BSc Sheffield University, Plant Science
        • 1980 - PhD Sheffield University


        • Honorary Professor in the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham
        • Thomson-Reuters ISI Highly Cited Scientist in Agricultural Science
        • President, International Society of Trace Element Biogeochemistry 2013- 2015
        • Member of NERC Peer Review College
        • New Phytologist Editorial Board Advisor