Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

mb

Martin Blackwell

Role(s):
Research Scientist
North Wyke
North Wyke
Summary:
Summary of Research Interests and Responsibilities I am a soil biogeochemist in the Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department at Rothamsted Research, North Wyke where I am leading several research projects looking at phosphorus (P) cycling in a range of systems. I have a background in both P and nitrogen (N) cycling in grassland and wetland soils and waters especially with regard to buffer strips, and have been involved in the development of Functional Assessment Procedures for European Wetlands through a series of major EU funded projects. More recently this has led to the development of research into Ecosystem Services from wetlands and grassland systems, including a major contribution to the UK National Ecosystem Assessment. My recent work has focused on P dynamics in grassland soils and I am leading research in this area within Rothamsted Research as part of its new Institute Strategic Programme. I am currently managing several Defra projects including one investigating P cycling in riparian buffer strips and a 5 year Defra project investigating the use of buffer zones, ditches and ponds for the mitigation of diffuse agricultural pollution from grassland. I am a member of the Hampshire Avon Defra Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) consortium, working closely with ADAS as a macronutrient specialist and currently I am leading the DTC Measures Component for pollution mitigation in that catchment. I co-supervise 2 PhD students investigating organic P and N cycling in buffer strips. In addition to regularly giving talks to visitors to North Wyke about my research, currently I give lectures at Exeter University as part of the MSc Course BIOM562: Sustainable land-use in grassland agriculture. I am an Associate Editor for the journal Grass and Forage Science, and a member of the Rothamsted Open Meetings Committee.    Key areas of expertise   Soil Biogeochemistry – with the growing concerns over phosphorus (P) supplies, efficiency and transfers to surface waters from agriculture in relation to global food security, I am currently developing the capacity for Rothamsted Research to be at the cutting edge of P research. I was recently awarded a BBSRC ISIS (International Scientific Interchange Scheme) Grant to visit one of the world’s leading P scientists, Dr Ben Turner at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. As a result techniques such as 31P NMR analysis of soil extractions are now forming part of the latest ISPG within Rothamsted Research, along with isotopic studies for source apportionment of P in agricultural runoff using 18O associated with phosphate. The potential use of organic P in soils by plants is also being developed through ongoing collaborations and Research Council proposals with key researchers at Lancaster University, The James Hutton Institute, STRI, CSIRO and Lincoln University (NZ) (see Stutter et al., In Press). My recent work has focused on P dynamics in grassland soils, particularly with regard to the microbial biomass and the effects of soil wetting and drying on P dynamics in the soil and loss via leachate, in the context of potential climate change. This work resulted in a press release by BBSRC (see Blackwell et al., 2009). I have also played an integral role in the development of the North Wyke Farm Platform, a multi-million pound investment by BBSRC to provide a facility for high resolution investigation of nutrient and energy cycling in different farming systems at a farm-scale.   Wetlands - I have a broad background in wetland science and have worked on several large EU funded projects. These were focussed on the study and development of Wetland Functional Assessment Procedures (see Maltby et al., 2009). While working as a wetland biogeochemist I obtained expertise in N cycling, particularly with regard to spatial variability of denitrification processes and the role of wetlands and buffer zones for the control of diffuse agricultural pollution. I secured a NERC small grant which enabled me to develop novel chambers enabling the study of intertidal zones and the effects of managed realignment on nutrient dynamics and gaseous fluxes (see Blackwell et al, 2004; 2010; Kenny et al., 2004).   Ecosystem Services – My interest in ecosystem services has grown from my work developing Functional Assessment Procedures for European Wetlands. Ecosystem Services are equivalent to ecosystem functions, whereby different ecosystems across a range of scales are perceived to deliver a wide range of services to humans, for what some would describe as ‘for free’. I am a lead author on the UK National Ecosystem Assessment ‘Freshwaters (Wetlands and Floodplains)’ chapter (UK-NEA, 2011), and have recently published a paper considering the ecosystem services delivered by small-scale wetlands (Blackwell et al., 2011), and a review of interactions among ecosystem services in grassland systems (Pilgrim et al., 2010). I have co-authored a report for Defra project SP1106 investigating the ‘Ecosystems services delivered by organo-mineral soils’, and the potential effects of climate change.   Diffuse Pollution from Agriculture - . Having studied the dynamics and processes controlling both N and P cycling in soils I am in the unusual position of having expertise in the cycling of both these nutrients, with most researchers tending to focus on either one or the other. This dual knowledge is of particular importance in the study of mitigation methods for diffuse agricultural pollution such as buffer zones because often the mitigation processes are not complementary. I am currently co-manager of a Defra project investigating P cycling in riparian buffer strips and a 5 year Defra project investigating the use of buffer zones, ditches and ponds for the mitigation of diffuse agricultural pollution from grassland. I am a member of the Hampshire Avon Defra Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) consortium, working closely with ADAS as a macronutrient specialist and currently I am leading the DTC Measures Component for pollution mitigation in that catchment. Previously I have participated in the Defra Consultation on Environmental Standards in farming: Buffer strips next to watercourses. (Regent’s College, Regent’s Park, London, 2009) and an expert elicitation workshop on ‘Estimating the quantitative environmental impacts of a package of potential set-aside mitigation options’ (organised by Central Science laboratory /FERA, Nobel House, Westminster, 2009).
Phone:
+44 (0) 1837 883 500 ext: +44 1837 883522
Location:
Rothamsted Research - North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB
Past Projects
Project Leader
  • Modular approaches to the control of diffuse agricultural pollution: Buffer zones, bioreactor, ditches and ponds
  • Buffer evidence base: Phosphorus saturation in buffer strips
  • Lawes Trust Studentship: Organic nitrogen losses from buffer zones: interactions with soil structure and hydrological pathways
  • The oxygen isotope composition of phosphate: a potential tool in UK freshwater studies
  • Taw River improvement project research partnership
  • Phosphate source identification in the River Camel catchment using 180-PO4 isotopic tracing techniques
  • Agronomic efficiency of fertilizer produced from livestock and industry waster
Member
  • Processes and mechanisms of the interactions between grasslands and water
  • Potential for nitrification inhibitors and fertilizer nitrogen application timing strategies to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from UK agriculture
  • Soil carbon: Studies to explore greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation

Peer Reviewed Papers

Darch, T., Blackwell, M.S.A., Hawkins, J.M.B., Haygarth, P.M. and Chadwick, D. (In Press) A meta-analysis of organic and inorganic phosphorus in organic fertilisers, soils and water; implications for water quality. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology.

Roberts W.M., Matthews, R.A., Blackwell, M.S.A., Peukert, S., Collins, A.L., Stutter, M.I., Haygarth, P.M. (2013) Microbial biomass phosphorus contributions to phosphorus solubility in riparian vegetated buffer strip soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 49:1237-1241.

Collins, A.L., Zhang, Y.S., Hickinbottom, R., Bailey, G., Darlington, S., Grenfell, S.E., Evans, R. and Blackwell, M.S.A. (2013) Contemporary fine-grained bed sediment sources across the River Wensum Demonstration Test Catchment, UK. Hydrological Processes.

E. Maltby, M. Acreman, M.S.A. Blackwell, M. Everard, J. Morris (2013) The challenges and implications of linking wetland science to policy in agricultural landscapes – experience from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Ecological Engineering.

Turner, B.L. and Blackwell, M.S.A. (2013) Isolating the influence of pH on the amounts and forms of soil organic phosphorus. European Journal of Soil Science, 64, 249-259.

Bonnett, S.A.F., Blackwell, M.S.A,  Leah, R., Cook, V., O'Connor, M. and Maltby, E.  (2013) Temperature response of denitrification rate and greenhouse gas production in agricultural river marginal wetland soils. Geobiology, 11: 252-267.

Blackwell, M.S.A., Carswell, A.M. and Bol, R. (2012) Variations in concentrations of N and P forms in leachates from dried soils rewetted at different rates. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 49, 79-87.

Dungait, J., Cardenas, L, Blackwell, M., Wu, L., Whitmore, A., Murray, P., Chadwick, D., Bol, R., Macdonald, A., Goulding, K., Withers, P. (2012) Advances in the understanding of nutrient dynamics and management in UK agriculture. Science of the Total Environment, 434, 39-50.

Stutter, M., Shand, C., George, T., Blackwell, M.S.A., Bol, R., Mackay, R., Richardson, A., Condron, L., Turner, B.L. and Haygarth, P.M. (2012) Recovering phosphorus from soil – A root solution? Environmental Science and Technology, 46, 1977-1978.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Pilgrim, E.S. and Bol, R. (2011). Ecosystem services delivered by small-scale wetlands. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 56(8), 1467-1484.

 Xu, G., Sun, J.N., Xu, R.F., Lv, Y.C., Shao, H.B., Yan, K., Zhang, L.H. and Blackwell, M.S.A. (2011). Effects of air-drying and freezing on phosphorus fractions in soils with different organic matter contents. Plant, Soil and Environment, 57(5); 228-234.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Bol, R. and Yamulki, S. (2010). Nitrous oxide emissions and denitrification rates in estuarine intertidal saltmarsh and managed realignment zones. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 87, 591-600.

 Pilgrim, E.S., Macleod, C.J.A., Blackwell, M.S.A., Hogan, D.V., Bol, R., Cardenas, L., Chadwick, D., Dungait, J., Haygarth, P.M., Hobbs, P., Hodgson, C., Jarvis, S.C., Misslebrook, T.H., Murray, P. and Firbank, L.G. (2010). Interactions among agricultural production and other ecosystem services delivered from European grassland systems. Advances in Agronomy, 108, 117-154.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Brookes, P.C., de la Fuente-Martinez, N., Gordon, H., Murray, P.J., Snars, K.E., Williams, J.K., Bol, R. and Haygarth, P.M., (2010). Phosphorus solubilization and potential transfer to surface waters from the soil microbial biomass following drying-rewetting and freezing-thawing. Advances in Agronomy, 106, 1-35.

 R.A. Matthews, D.R. Chadwick, A.L. Retter, M.S.A. Blackwell, and S. Yamulki (2010). Nitrous oxide emissions from small-scale farmland features of livestock farming systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment Special Issue: Estimation of Nitrous Oxide Emission from Ecosystems and its Mitigation Technologies, 136, 192-198.

 E.R.Dixon, M.S.A.Blackwell, M.S.Dhanoa, P.J.Murray, H. Kemp, W.Meier- Augenstein, A. Duffy, R.Bol (2009) Measurement at the field scale of soil δ13C and δ15N under improved grassland. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 24, 511-518.

 M.S.A. Blackwell, J.K. Williams, K.E. Snars, P.C. Brookes, N. de la Fuente-Martinez, L. Michallon, P.J. Murray, P.M. Haygarth (2009). Factors causing uncertainty in the measurement of soil microbial biomass phosphorus. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 73:1861-1863.

 M.S.A. Blackwell, P.C. Brookes, N. de la Fuente-Martinez, P.J. Murray, K. Snars, J.K. Williams, P.M. Haygarth (2009). Effects of soil drying and rate of rewetting on phosphorus in leachate. Biology and Fertility of Soils. 45:635-643.

 Maltby, E. and Blackwell, M.S.A. (2005) Managing riverine environments in the context of new water policy in Europe. International Journal of River Basin Management. 3:2, pp. 133-141.

 Kenny, C., Yamulki, S., Blackwell, M.S.A., Maltby, E., French, P. and Birgand, F. (2004) The release of nitrous oxide from the intertidal zones of two European estuaries in response to increased ammonium and nitrate loading. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 4:6, pp. 61-66.

 Bol, R., R�ckmann, T., Blackwell, M.S.A. and Yamulki, S. (2004) Influence of flooding on δ15N, δ18O, 1 δ 15 N and 2 δ 15N signatures of N2O released from estuarine soils � a laboratory experiment using tidal flooding chambers. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 18, pp. 1561-1568.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Hogan, D.V. and Maltby, E. (2004) The short-term impact of managed realignment on soil environmental variables and hydrology. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 59:4 pp. 687-701.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Hogan, D.V. and Maltby, E. (1999) The use of conventionally and alternatively located buffer zones for the removal of nitrate from diffuse agricultural run-off. Water Science and Technology, 39:12, pp. 157-164.

 Books/Book Chapters

Maltby, E, Ormerod, S., Acreman, M., Blackwell, M.S.A., Durance, I., Everard, M., Morris, J. and Spray, C. (2011) Freshwaters: Openwaters, Wetlands and Floodplain. Chapter 9 In: The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Technical Report. UK National Ecosystem Assessment, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, 295-360

 Wilkins, R.J., Jarvis, S.C. and Blackwell, M.S.A. (Eds.) (2009). The Hurley and North Wyke Story: 60 Years of Grassland Research, 1949-2009. North Wyke Research, Okehampton, Devon. p. 78.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Hogan, D.V., Pinay, G. and Maltby, E. (2009) The role of buffer zones for agricultural runoff. In: Maltby, E. and Barker, T. (eds.), The Wetlands Handbook. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK. pp. 417-439.

 Maltby, E., Bishop, K.H., Blackwell, M.S.A., Cl�ment, B., Papadimos, D., Scholz, M., Schulz-Zunkel, C., Seferlis, M., Tellam, J., Verhoeven, J.T.A., Verhoeven, M.L. (2009). Edited by: Maltby, E., Baker, C.J., Barker, T., Digby, U., Hogan, D.V., McInnes, R.J., Functional Assessment of Wetlands. Woodhead Publishing Ltd., Cambridge, UK. p. 672.

 Blackwell, M.S.A. and Maltby, E. (2006) Ecoflood Guidelines: How to use floodplains for flood risk reduction. Published by EU, Brussels. p. 144.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Hogan, D.V., Pinay, G. and Maltby, E. (2009), The role of wetlands as buffer zones for nutrient removal from agricultural runoff. In: Maltby, E. and Barker, T. (Eds.) The Wetlands Handbook. Blackwell Science, UK, pp 417-439.

 Blackwell, M.S.A. and Maltby, E. (2003), Environmental and economic assessment of the location of wetland buffers in the landscape for nutrient removal from agricultural runoff. In Turner, R.K., Van den Bergh, J.C.J.M. and Brouwer, R. (Eds.) Managing Wetlands: An ecological economics approach. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., Cheltenham, UK, pp. 165-197.

 Blackwell, M.S.A., Hogan, D.V. and Maltby, E. (2002), Wetlands and water quality. In: Haygarth, P. and Jarvis, S. (Eds.) Agriculture, Hydrology and Water Quality. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp. 321-340.

 Maltby, E., Blackwell, M.S.A. and Baker, C. (2000), Linking Wetland Science to Policy: Meeting the challenge with special reference to water quality issues. In: Balazs, E., Galante, E., Lynch, J.M., Schepers, J.S., Toutant, J-P., Werner, D. and Werry, P.A.T.J. (Eds.) Biological Resource Management: Connecting Science and Policy. pp. 291-308. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York.

 Edited Proceedings/Conference Abstracts

 M.S.A. Blackwell, N. de la Fuente-Martinez, P.J. Murray, P.C. Brookes, K. Snars, P.M. Haygarth, J.K. Williams (2009). Effects of soil drying and rewetting on phosphorus in leachate: the role of the soil microbial biomass and other properties. BSSS-SSSI Annual Meeting, 9th-11th September 2009, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland.M.S.A. Blackwell, N. de la Fuente-Martinez, P.J. Murray, P.C. Brookes, K. Snars, P.M. Haygarth, J.K. Williams (2008). Impact of the rate of rewetting of a dried soil on the concentration of phosphorus in leachate. Proc. Joint Meeting, GSA, SSSA, ASA, CSSA, GCAGS, Houston, Texas, 2008 

 Bonnett, S.A.F., Leah, R., Blackwell, M.S.A. and Maltby, E. (2009). Impacts of predicted climate change on denitrification and greenhouse gas production in a temperate organic floodplain soil in southwest England. BSSS Spring Meeting on Organic Soils, 5th � 7th May 2009, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland.

  Snars, K.E., Brookes, P. C., Swain, A.J., Blackwell, M.S.A., Williams, J.K., Murray, P.J. and Haygarth, P.M. (2007). The impacts of organic matter incorporation and hydrological stress on microbial biomass phosphorus dynamics. The 5th International Phosphorus Workshop (IPW5), 3-7th September 2007, Silkeborg, Denmark.

 Stamp, J. K., Blackwell, M. S. A., Brookes, P. C., Haygarth, P. M., Murray, P. J., Snars, K. E. (2006) A conceptual model describing the effects of wetting and drying on phosphorus biogeochemistry. British Grassland Society Research Conference, 'Grassland as a Multifunctional Resource', Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, 4-6 September 2006.

 Snars, K. E., Swain, A., Brookes, P. C., Blackwell, M. S. A., Haygarth, P. M., Murray, P. J. (2006). Modifications to fumigation extraction to permit better analysis of field soils and ease of measurement. 3rd International Symposium on Phosphorus Dynamics in the Soil-Plant Continuum. Uberlandia-Minas Gerais, Brazil, 14-19 May 2006.

 Blackwell, M. S. A., Brookes, P. C. , Haygarth, P. M., Murray, P. J., Snars, K., Stamp, J. (2006). A conceptual model describing the effects of soil wetting and drying on phosphorus biogeochemistry Third International Symposium on Phosphorus Dynamics in the Soil-Plant Continuum. Uberlandia-Minas Gerais, Brazil, 14-19 May 2006.

 Blackwell, M.S.A. and E. Maltby (2002), Tidal simulation chambers for the investigation of nutrient transformation processes and gaseous emissions in intertidal zones. Seventh International Symposium of the Biogeochemistry of Wetlands, Durham, NC, June 17-20, 2001:� Book of Abstracts, Duke University Wetland Center Publication, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. 176 pp.

 Maltby, E., Hogan, D.V. and Blackwell, M.S.A. (2000) Wetlands as buffer zones in catchment water resource management. In Stoecker, B., Grosse, W. and Li, W. (Eds.) Ecosystem Service and Sustainable Watershed Management Towards Flood Prevention, Pollution Control and Socio-economic Development in North China, Proceedings of the International Conference in China, Beijing, P.R. China, August 23-25, 2000. University of Cologne, Koeln, Germany.

 Blackwell, M.S.A. and E. Maltby (1998), Identification and field testing of zones of enhanced denitrification (ZEDs) in the wetland landscape. In: McComb, A.J. and Davis, J.A. (eds.), Wetlands for the Future. Proceedings of INTECOL's V International Wetlands Conference, pp. 443-455. Gleneagles Press, Adelaide, Australia.

 Maltby, E.,Blackwell, M.S.A. and Hogan, D.V. (1997), Wetlands in the Landscape - Linking Policy to Function. In: Wetlands: Landscape and Institutional Perspectives. Proceedings of the 4th Workshop of the Global Wetlands Economic Network (GWEN), Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm, Sweden.

 Unpublished Scientific Reports

 Bonnett, S.A.F., Leah, R., Blackwell, M.S.A. and Maltby, E. (2009) Effect of temperature and nitrate-amended floodwater on denitrification rates and greenhouse gas production in river marginal wetland hydrogeomorphic units. Integrated Project to evaluate the Impacts of Global Change on European Freshwater Ecosystems (Eurolimpacs), EU Project No. GOCE-CT-2003-505540, February 2009. pp. 131.

 M.S.A. Blackwell (2004), River Camel and Tributaries SSSI Managed Retreat Project, Sladesbridge, Cornwall. Report on Potential Short Term Trace Metals and Nutrient Mobilisation Following Initiation of ��Flooding. Report to Environment Agency, November 2004. pp. 13.

 M.S.A. Blackwell and D.V. Hogan (2004), River Camel and Tributaries SSSI Managed Retreat Project, Sladesbridge, Cornwall. Report on Soil Compaction Investigations. Report to English Nature, March 2004. pp. 20.

 Hogan, D.V., Blackwell, M.S.A. and Maltby, E. (2004), A Vision for Wetlands in England: Regions, natural areas and catchments. Report to English Nature, Contract no. Eit34-01-016, February 2004. pp.56.

 Hogan, D.V., Blackwell, M.S.A. and Maltby, E. (2000), Tamar 2000 SUPPORT Project, Wetlands Phase II Report. Wetland Ecosystems Research Group, Royal Holloway Institute for Environmental Research. pp. 82.

 Hogan, D.V., Blackwell, M.S.A. and Maltby, E. (2000), Tamar 2000 SUPPORT Project, Wetlands Phase I Report. Wetland Ecosystems Research Group, Royal Holloway Institute for Environmental Research. pp. 30.

 Blackwell, M.S.A. (1998), Zones of Enhanced Denitrification in River Marginal Wetlands. Unpublished PhD Thesis. Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London. pp. 347.

  

 

 

 

 

Qualifications

1998:

PhD in Denitrification in Wetlands (Royal Holloway University of London)

1991:

BSc in Environmental Science (Stirling University)

Measures of esteem

2011

  • Southwest England Soils Discussion Group (SWESDG): I am a committee member of the SWESDG
  • BBSRC International Scientific Interchange Scheme (ISIS) Award: I was awarded £3k to visit Dr Ben Turner at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to learn tecnhiques for the investigation of organic phosphorus in soils and waters, and develop collaborations.
  • PhD Supervision of Lawes Agricultural Trust student: Co-supervisor for PhD student Alison Carswell
  • Presentation at Rothamsted Research Day: I gave a presentation at the Rothamsted Research Day on 'Phosphorus Matters: Food Security and Climate Change'.

2010

  • Associate Editor for Grass and Forage Science
  • Presentation at ISPDSPC, Beijing, China: Oral presentation - Effects of soil drying and rewetting on forms and concentrations of phosphorus in leachate

2009

  • Central Science Laboratory assessment of impact of: I was invited to take part in a series of workshops and meetings assessing the impact of the loss of set-aside land on water quality in the UK.
  • Presentation at IWAM/Defra meeting, Nobel House, L: I was invited to give a presentation on wetland buffer zones at Nobel House to an audience of Defra policymakers.
  • Supervision of visiting students: Over the past 3 years I have secured funding for, and supervised 4 different students for periods ranging from 10 weeks to six months.
  • Presentation at BSSS/ISSS conference, Wexford, Ire: I presented an oral paper at the BSSS/ISSS conference, Wexford, Ireland, titled "Effects of soil drying and rewetting on phosphorus in leachate: the role of the soil microbial biomass and other properties"
  • National Ecosystem Assessment: Invited to be lead author on the Freshwater (floodplains and wetlands) Ecosystems chapter.
  • Supervision of PhD student: Co-supervisor for PhD student, Tegan Darch

2008

  • Presentation at SSSA joint conference, Houston, US: I gave an oral presentation at the joint meeting of the GSA, SSSA, ASA, CSSA, GCAGS, Houston, Texas., titled "Impact of the rate of rewetting of a dried soil on the concentration of phosphorus in leachate"