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



        • 2005
          Hough, R. L.,Tye, A. M.,Crout, N. M. J.,McGrath, S. P.,Zhang, H.,Young, S. D.

          Evaluating a 'Free Ion Activity Model' applied to metal uptake by Lolium perenne L. grown in contaminated soils

          Plant and Soil 270 : pp.1-12

        • 2005
          Hu, Z. Y.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Sulphur fractionation in calcareous soils and bioavailability to plants

          Plant and Soil 268 : pp.103-109

        • 2005
          Ma, J. F.,Ueno, D.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Subcellular localisation of Cd and Zn in the leaves of a Cd-hyperaccumulating ecotype of Thlaspi caerulescens

          Planta 220 : pp.731-736

        • 2005
          Tandy, S.,Barbosa, V. L.,Tye, A.,Preston, S.,Paton, G.,Zhang, H.,McGrath, S. P.

          Comparison of different microbial bioassays to assess metal-contaminated soils

          Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24 : pp.530-536

        • 2005
          Caille, N.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Comparison of root absorption, translocation and tolerance of arsenic in the hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata and the nonhyperaccumulator Pteris tremula

          New Phytologist 165(3) : pp.755-761
          doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2004.01239.x

        • 2004
          Davis, M. R. H.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Pollution-induced community tolerance of soil microbes in response to a zinc gradient

          Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 23 : pp.2665-2672

        • 2004
          Zhang, H.,Lombi, E.,Smolders, E.,McGrath, S. P.

          Kinetics of Zn release in soils and prediction of Zn concentration in plants using diffusive gradients in thin films

          Environmental Science & Technology 38 : pp.3608-3613

        • 2004
          Tye, A. M.,Young, S.,Crout, N. M. J.,Zhang, H.,Preston, S.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Speciation and solubility of Cu, Ni and Pb in contaminated soils

          European Journal of Soil Science 55 : pp.579-590

        • 2004
          Caille, N.,Swanwick, S.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Arsenic hyperaccumulation by Pteris vittata from arsenic contaminated soils and the effect of liming and phosphate fertilisation

          Environmental Pollution 132 : pp.113-120

        • 2004
          Lombi, E.,Hamon, R. E.,Wieshammer, G.,Mclaughlin, M. J.,McGrath, S. P.

          Assessment of the use of industrial by-products to remediate a copper- and arsenic-contaminated soil

          Journal of Environmental Quality 33 : pp.902-910
          doi: 10.2134/jeq2004.0902

        • 2004
          Zha, H-G.,Jiang, R. F.,Zhao, F-J.,Vooijs, R.,Schat, H.,Barker, J. H. A.,McGrath, S. P.

          Co-segregation analysis of cadmium and zinc accumulation in Thlaspi caerulescens interecotypic crosses

          New Phytologist 163(2) : pp.299-312
          doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2004.01113.x

        • 2004
          Zhao, F-J.,Adams, M. L.,Dumont, C.,McGrath, S. P.,Chaudri, A. M.,Nicholson, F. A.,Chambers, B. J.,Sinclair, A. H.

          Factors affecting concentrations of lead in British wheat and barley grain

          Environmental Pollution 131 : pp.461-468

        • 2004
          Fox, M. A.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.

          A new method for the determination of the 34S/32S ratio of water-soluble sulphur in soil

          International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry 84 : pp.323-329

        • 2004
          Adams, M. L.,Zhao, F-J.,McGrath, S. P.,Nicholson, F. A.,Chambers, B. J.

          Predicting cadmium concentrations in wheat and barley grain using soil properties

          Journal of Environmental Quality 33 : pp.532-541

        • 2004
          Song, J.,Zhao, F-J.,Luo, Y-M.,McGrath, S. P.,Zhang, H.

          Copper uptake by Elsholtzia splendens and Silene vulgaris and assessment of copper phytoavailablilty in contaminated soils

          Environmental Pollution 128 : pp.307-315

        • 2004
          Johnson, D. L.,Maguire, K. L.,Anderson, D. R.,McGrath, S. P.

          Enhanced dissipation of chrysene in planted soil: the impact of rhizobial inoculum

          Soil Biology and Biochemistry 36 : pp.33-38

        • 2003
          Carr, H. P.,Lombi, E.,Kupper, H.,McGrath, S. P.,Wong, M. H.

          Accumulation and distribution of aluminium and other elements in tea (Camellia sinensis ) leaves

          Agronomie 23 : pp.705-710

        • 2003
          Tye, A. M.,Young, S. D.,Crout, N. M. J.,Zhang, H.,Preston, S.,Barbosa-Jefferson, V. L.,Davison, W.,McGrath, S. P.,Paton, G. I.,Kilham, K.,Resende, L.

          Predicting the activity of Cd2+ and Zn2+ in soil pore water from the radio-labile metal fraction

          Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 67 : pp.375-385

        • 2003
          Smolders, E.,McGrath, S. P.,Lombi, E.,Karman, C. C.,Bernhard, R.,Cools, D.,Van Den Brande, K.,Van Os, B.,Walrave, N.

          Comparison of toxicity of zinc for soil microbial processes between laboratory-contamined (sic) and polluted field soils

          Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 22 : pp.2592-2598

        • 2003
          Lombi, E.,Hamon, R. E.,McGrath, S. P.,Mclaughlin, M. J.

          Lability of Cd, Cu, and Zn in polluted soils treated with lime, beringite, and red mud and identification of a non-labile colloidal fraction of metals using isotopic techniques

          Environmental Science & Technology 37 : pp.979-984


        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