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martin blackwell


Dr Martin Blackwell

Soil Scientist

Net Zero and Resilient Farming

North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB
+44 (0) 1837 512 322
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Martin is a soil biogeochemist with a background in phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) cycling. His work focuses on P dynamics in grassland soils and the development of organic P analysis techniques. He is a council member of the British Society of Soil Science and chairs the Southwest England Soils Discussion Group. His interests include phosphorus research in soils and water, especially the role of organic P and its analysis using 31P-NMR and cycling using δ18O-PO4 techniques; effects of soil drying and rewetting on nutrient cycling in soils and losses to surface waters; mitigation of diffuse pollution from agriculture, especially the role and management of buffer strips; nitrogen cycling in fresh and intertidal wetland systems and development of functional assessment procedures for wetland assessment; improving phosphorus use efficiency in agriculture; Ecosystem Services tools for grassland and arable systems; and catchment scale projects for the mitigation of diffuse agricultural pollution and improvement of surface water quality. His current and developing areas of work include novel fertilisers for improving yields and nutritional quality of crops; development of Ecosystem Services tools for grassland and arable systems; determination of better fertiliser recommendations, especially for phosphorus; and improving phosphorus use efficiency and recycling in agriculture.

Strategic Programme

  • Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems (ASSIST)
  • Soil 2 Nutrition (S2N)

Science Projects

  • DTC Implementing Component 2 of Demonstration Test Catchments - to test integrated diffuse pollution migration measures for arable cropping, livestock, dairy and other farming systems
  • Exploiting root exudation of organic acids and phytases to enhance plant utilisation
  • SIP: opportunities and risks for farming and the environment at landscape scales (LM0302)
  • Impacts of different vegetation in riparian buffer strips on hydrology and water quality

PhD Projects

  • Ecological Protection of Water Quality
  • Benefits of controlled soil drying for crop yields: disentangling nutritional and phytohormonal effects
  • In-soil trophic interactions between plants, rhizosphere bacteria and nematodes
  • Impact of soil drying-rewetting on phosphorus losses in leachate


  • 1998 PhD in Science, 'Zones of enhanced denitrification in river marginal wetlands', Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  • 1991 BSc (Hons, upper second) Environmental Science, University of Stirling, Scotland, UK

Measures of Esteem

  • Council Member of the British Society of Soil Science
  • Chair of Southwest UK Soils Discussion Group (SWESDG)