Sustainable Soil & Grassland Systems
I joined Rothamsted in 1986 after completing a B.Sc. (Hons) in Agricultural Botany at Aberystwyth University. Since then my main areas of research have focused on the effects of agricultural management practices on the efficiency of N fertilizer use, N losses to the environment and soil N dynamics. Much of this work has included the use of stable isotopes to follow the fate of N derived from fertilizer and crop residues in the crop/soil system. In 2000 I was awarded a Ph.D. by The University of Reading for my work on the effects of cover crops on soil N transformations and losses from arable land. In 2002 I spent several months at the University of Western Australia working on the effects of herbaceous perennials and short-term rotational tree cropping on labile organic matter fractions in the soils of Western Australia. More recently, my work has focused on the impact of land use and management on soluble organic matter in British soils and N losses from arable land. I currently lead work on the Rothamsted Long-term experiments, including Broadbalk and Park Grass, to evaluate the long-term effects of fertilizers, manures, lime and crop rotations on crop production, nutrient losses and soil fertility. I also lead Rothamsted’s contribution to an EU project on experimentation in ecosystem research (EXPEER; www.expeer.fr).
Research Interests include:
- The long-term effects of fertilizers, lime, manures and crop rotations on soil fertility.
- The role of dissolved organic matter in soil nutrient dynamics.
- Leaching of nitrate, dissolved organic N and cations from arable land.
- The effects of residue quality on C and N mineralisation in soil.
- Management practices to decrease nitrate leaching from arable land.
- Efficiency of N fertiliser use in arable cropping systems.
- Managing work on the Long-term Experiments and the Environmental Change Network (ECN).
- Managing access to the Rothamsted Sample Archive, which contains about 300 000 dried plant and soil samples collected from the Rothamsted Long-term Experiments since the 1840’s.
Knowledge Exchange activities include:
- Tours of the Rothamsted Long-term Experiments to visiting scientists.
- Presentations to student and research scientist at colleges and universities.
- Supervision and advice to postgraduate staff and students within the SGS department.
2008-2009: Analysis and Experimentation in Ecosystems (ANAEE) - EU FP7
2007-2008: Better estimation of soil nitrogen use efficiency by cereals and oilseed rape -HGCA
2003-2005: Nitrogen fertilisers and the environment - DEFRA
2003-2004: A prototype soil N supply calculator - DEFRA
2000-2003: The role of dissolved and particulate organic matter in UK soils - NERC
1996-1999: Losses of dissolved organic N - MAFF
1992-1995: The use of cover crops to decrease nitrate leaching from arable land - MAFF
1986-1991: Nitrate leaching from arable land - MAFF
Key: BBSRC – Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; LAT – Lawes Agricultural Trust; DEFRA – Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs; EU FP - European Union Framework Programme; MAFF – Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food; NERC – Natural Environment Research Council.
Phone:+44 (0) 1582 763 133 ext: +44 1582 938479
Location:Rothamsted Research, West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ
- The 'Classical' experiments: Broadbalk and Park Grass
- Maintaining soil resilience and function for sustainable land management
- Distributed infrastructure for experimentation in ecosystem research: EXPEER
A.J. Macdonald - Publication List (December 2011)
(A) = Papers in refereed journals
(B) = Non - refereed papers (conference proceedings)
(C) = Books
(D) = Articles in popular press
(A) 1 MACDONALD, A.J., POWLSON, D.S., POULTON, P.R. & JENKINSON, D.S. (1989) Unused fertiliser nitrogen in arable soils - its contribution to nitrate leaching. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 46, 407 - 419.
(B) 2 GOULDING, K.W.T., POWLSON, D.S., POULTON, P.R., WEBSTER, C.P., MACDONALD, A.J. & GLENDINING, M.J. (1989) Implications to N losses of a switch from inorganic towards organic manures and from continuous arable cropping to ley - arable rotations. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 48, 115 - 129.
(B) 3 POWLSON, D.S., POULTON, P.R., MACDONALD, A.J. & GLENDINING, M.J. (1989) Formation and loss of nitrate in arable soil. In: AFRC Meeting on Soil Nitrogen Metabolism, Lancaster University , 18-20 September 1989.
(B) 4 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R. & POWLSON, D. (1990) Sources of nitrate leaching from arable soils to aquifers. In: Fertilization and the Environment (Eds R. Merckx, H. Vereecken & K. Vlassak), Leuven University Press, Belgium, pp. 281-288.
(B) 5 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R. & POWLSON, D.S. (1990) Arable crops and farming practices: effects on nitrate in arable soils. In: Proceedings of the 1st Congress of the European Society of Agronomy, Paris , 5-7 December 1990 Session 5 P 28.
(B) 6 WEBSTER, C.P., MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R. & CHRISTIAN, D.G. (1992) The effectiveness of winter cover crops in minimising nitrogen leaching loss. Proceedings of the Second Congress of the European Society for Agronomy, Warwick University , August 1992, 380-381.
(B) 7 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R. & POWLSON, D.S. (1992) The fate of residual fertilizer N in arable soils. Proceedings of the Second Congress of the European Society for Agronomy, Warwick University , August 1992, 416-417.
(B) 8 POWLSON, D.S., GOULDING, K.W.T., MACDONALD, A.J. & POULTON, P.R. (1992) Environmental consequences of changes in arable agriculture. In: Land use change: the cause and consequences (M.C. Whitby, Ed). Proceedings of 27th ITE Symposium. HMSO, London , p.193.
(B) 9 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., CHRISTIAN, D.G. & HOWE, M.T. (1993) Effects of cover crops on soil N transformations and losses from arable land. In: Proceedings of the AFRC Meeting on Nitrogen Metabolism in Plants, Silsoe College, 15-17 December 1993, p. 7.
(B) 10 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., CHRISTIAN, D.G. & HOWE, M.T. (1994) Effects of cover crops on soil N transformations and losses from arable land. In: Proceedings of the 8th Nitrogen Workshop, University of Ghent , Belgium , 5-8 September 1994. Theme 4: Environmental protection.
(B) 11 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., CHRISTIAN, D.G. & HOWE, M.T. (1995) Effects of cover crops on soil N transformations and losses from arable land. In: Proceedings of the ARIA Nitrate Workshop, Rothamsted, 25 January 1995 . Theme 4: Environmental protection.
(B) 12 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., CHRISTIAN, D.G. & HOWE, M.T. (1995) Mineralization of cover crop N: its contribution to subsequent crop N uptake and losses. In: Proceedings of the First EC Concerted Action on Cover Crops (CA2108), Wageningen, May 1995.
(B) 13 BROMILOW, R.H., CATT, J.A., CHRISTIAN, D.G., CUSSANS, G.W., GOULDING, K.W.T., HENDERSON , I.F. & MACDONALD, A.J. (1996) Book review. Encyclopedia of Agricultural Science, C.J. Arntzen and E.M. Rutter (Editors), Academic Press, San Diego . Catena 26, 135-136.
(B) 14 MURPHY, D.V., GAUNT, J.L., MACDONALD, A.J. & SOHI, S.P. (1996) Measuring nitrogen mineralization using 15N isotopic dilution. In: Proceedings of British Society of Soil Science Meeting, 23-25 September 1996, Dundee .
(B) 15 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., CHRISTIAN, D.G. & HOWE, M.T. (1996) Mineralization of cover crop N: its contribution to subsequent crop N uptake and losses. In: Second progress report of EU concerted action (AIR3) 2108 on long term reduction of nitrate leaching by cover crops, 4-7 November 1996, Gumpenstein , Austria .
(B) 16 MACDONALD, A.J., BARRACLOUGH,.D., GIBBS, P. AND AYAGA G.O. (1996). Effects of crop residue incorporation on gross nitrogen mineralization rates in an arable soil. In Transactions of the 9th Nitrogen Workshop, Braunschweig, September 1996 pp 265-266.
(A) 17 MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., POWLSON, D.S. & JENKINSON, D.S. (1997). Effects of season, soil type and cropping on recoveries, residues and losses of 15N-labelled fertilizer applied to arable crops in spring. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge , 129, 2 , 125-154.
(B) 1 8 MACDONALD, A. J., GUTTERIDGE. R.J. and BRADBURY , N.J. (1997) The effect of take-all (Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici) disease of wheat on residual mineral N in arable soils. In abstracts of the 1st European Conference on Precision Agriculture. Warwick University , 8-10 September 1997 pp 27-28.
(B) 19 MACDONALD, A. J. and BARRACLOUGH. D. (1998) Nitrogen and carbon mineralization in arable soils following incorporation of cover crops. In abstracts of the Down to Earth meeting, Reading University , 31 March - 2 April 1998 .
(B) 20 DUNN, W.B., MACDONALD, A.J., WILLISON, T.W., MURPHY., D.V. and GOULDING., K.W.T. (1998). The use of isotope ratio mass spectrometry for the study of gaseous losses from soil. In abstracts of the Down to Earth meeting, Reading University , 31 March - 2 April 1998 .
(B) 21 BARRACLOUGH D., GIBBS P. AND MACDONALD A.J. (1998). A New Soil Nitrogen and Carbon Cycle. In Proceedings of the 16th World Congress of Soil Science. Montpellier , August 1998.
(B) 22 A.J.MACDONALD, P.R.POULTON, D.V.MURPHY, D.S.POWLSON AND D.BARRACLOUGH (1999). Nitrogen and Carbon mineralization in a sandy loam following incorporation of crop residues. In proceedings of the 10th Nitrogen workshop, Copenhagen , August 1999.
(B) 23 L. DENDOOVEN AND A.J. MACDONALD (1999). Simulation of gross and net N mineralization, CO2 production and microbial biomass C and N in soils with different textures amended with rye or forage rape. In proceedings of the 10th Nitrogen workshop, Copenhagen , August 1999.
(A) 24 MURPHY D.V., MACDONALD A.J., STOCKDALE E.A., GOULDING K.W.T., FORTUNE S., GAUNT J.L., POULTON P.R., WAKEFIELD J.A., WEBSTER C.P., WILMER W.S. (2000). Soluble organic nitrogen in agricultural soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils 30, 374-387.
(C) 25 GOULDING, K., MURPHY, D., MACDONALD, A., STOCKDALE, E., GAUNT, J., BLAKE, L, AYAGA, G. & BROOKES, P. (2000). The role of soil organic matter and manures in sustainable nutrient cycling. In: �Sustainable Management of Soil Organic Matter�, eds R.M. Rees et al., CAB International, Wallingford, in press.
(F) 26 MACDONALD, A.J. (2000). The effects of cover crops on soil N transformations and losses from arable land. Ph.D Thesis, The University of Reading, July 2000, pp 250.
(A) 27 GLENDINING M.J., POULTON P.R., POWLSON D.S., MACDONALD A.J. AND JENKINSON D.S. (2001). Availability of the residual nitrogen from a single application of 15N-labelled fertilizer to subsequent crops in a long-term continuous barley experiment. Plant and Soil, 233:231-239.
(A) 28 SMITH J.U., SMITH P., MONAGHAN R., MACDONALD A.J. (2002). When is a Measured Soil Organic Matter Fraction Equivalent to a Model Pool? European Journal of Soil Science, 53: 405-416.
(A) 29 MACDONALD A.J., POULTON P.R., STOCKDALE E.A., POWLSON D.S. AND JENKINSON D.S. (2002). The fate of residual 15N-labelled fertilizer in arable soils: its availability to subsequent crops and retention in soil. Plant and Soil, 246:123-137.
(B) 30 MACDONALD A.J., WEBSTER C.P., POULTON P.R., WILMER, W.S. AND GOULDING, K.W.T. (2001). Losses of dissolved organic N (DON) from soils of contrasting organic matter content on the Broadbalk Continuous Wheat Experiment. In Proceedings of the 11th Nitrogen Workshop, 9-12 September, Reims, France, pp 321-322.
(B) 31 SOHI S.P., ARAH H., YATES H., MACDONALD A.J. AND GAUNT J.L. (2001). Parameterisation of a model based on measurable soil organic matter fractions. In Proceedings of the 11th Nitrogen Workshop, 9-12 September, Reims, France, pp 207-208.
(A) 32 SMITH J.U., SMITH P, COLEMAN K., HARGREAVES P.R. & MACDONALD A.J. (2002). Using dynamic simulation models and the "Dot-to-Dot" method to determine the optimum sampling times in field trials. Soil Use and Management, 18, 4, 370-375.
(B) 33 MACDONALD A.J., FRANCIS S.M.J., STOCKDALE E.A., GOULDING K.W.T, WILLETT V.B., JONES D.L., BADDELEY J.A, the late J.J.GREEN, WATSON C.A., SAUNDERS G AND CADISCH G. (2003) Effects of land use and management on soluble organic N in British soils. In Proceedings of the 12th Nitrogen Workshop, September 22-24, Exeter, UK.
(C) 34 MACDONALD A.J. and JONES D.L. (2004). Missing N: is the solution in dissolved N? In: Controlling nitrogen flows and losses. Eds D.Hatch et al. Wageningen Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, pp600-605.
(A) 35 WILLETT V.B., GREEN J.J., MACDONALD A.J., BADDELEY J.A., CADISCH G., FRANCIS S.M.J, Goulding K.W.T. , SAUNDERS G., STOCKDALE E.A., WATSON C.A., and JONES D.L. (2004). Impact of land use on soluble organic nitrogen in soil. Water, Air and Soil Pollution: Focus, Vol 4, No 6, 53-60.
(A) 36 MACDONALD A.J., POULTON P.R., HOWE M.T, GOULDING K.W.T AND POWLSON D.S. (2005) The use of cover crops in cereal-based cropping systems to control nitrate leaching in SE England. Plant and Soil, 273:355-373.
(B) 37 A.J. MACDONALD, P.R. POULTON, M.V. HOWE, K.W.T. GOULDING AND D.S. POWLSON (2005) The use of cover crops to control nitrate leaching from arable land. In Proceedings of the 14th Nitrogen Workshop, Maastricht , October 24-26, The Netherlands .
(A) 38 MACDONALD A.J., MURPHY D.V., MAHIEU N AND FILLERY I.R.P.(2007). Labile soil organic matter pools under a mixed grass/Lucerne pasture and adjacent native bush in Western Australia. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 45, 333-343.
(C) 39 FARRAR J., JONES D.L., KEMMITT S.J., MACDONALD A.J. AND MURPHY D.V. (2008). Dissolved organic nitrogen and mechanisms of its uptake by plants in agricultural systems. In: Quantifying and understanding plant nitrogen uptake for systems modelling. Chapter 5, pp 95-117, SSSA-CSSA-ASA, USA.
(A) 40 HOPKINS D. W., WAITE I. S., MCNICOL J. W., POULTON P. R., MACDONALD A. J., AND O’DONNELL A. G. (2009). Soil organic carbon contents in long-term experimental grassland plots in the UK (Palace Leas and Park Grass) have not changed consistently in recent decades. Global Change Biology, 15, 1739-1754.
(A) 41 D.A. FORNARA, S. STEINBEISS, P. MCNAMARA, G. GLEIXNER, S. OAKLEY, P. R. POULTON, A. J. MACDONALD AND R. D. BARDGETT (2011). Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland. Global Change Biology, 17, 5, 1925-1934 & 17, 8, 2762 (doi 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02328.x).
(B) 42 I. KÖHLER, A. MACDONALD, P. POULTON, K. AUERSWALD, H. SCHNYDER (2010) Effects of nutrient availability on intrinsic water-use efficiency of temperate semi-natural grassland under rising atmospheric CO2 during the last century. In: Book of Abstracts from the 23rd Meeting of the European Grassland Federation , Kiel, Germany. 29 Aug - 2 Sept, 2010 p15-16.
(A) 43 POWLSON D.S., BHOGAL A., CHAMBERS B.J., COLEMAN K., MACDONALD A.J., GOULDING K.W.T. AND WHITMORE A.P. (2011) The potential to increase soil carbon stocks through reduced tillage or organic material additions in England and Wales: A case study. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 146, 23-33.
(A) 44 JONES D., WILLETT V.B., STOCKDALE E.A., MACDONALD A.J. AND MURPHY D.V. (2011) Molecular weight of dissolved organic carbon, nitrogen, and phenolics in grassland soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, Soil Biology and Chemistry 76, doi:10.2136/sssaj.
(A) 45 MACDONALD A. J. AND GUTTERIDGE R. J. (2012) Effects of Take-all (Gaeumannomyces graminis var tritici) on crop N uptake and residual mineral N in soil at harvest of winter wheat. Plant and Soil, 350, 253-260.
Confidential Technical Reports
1. MACDONALD, A.J., POWLSON, D.S., POULTON, P.R. & JENKINSON, D.S. (1987). Report to MAFF on contract CSA 1058 (October 1987): Nitrate leaching from arable land, 20pp.
2. MACDONALD, A.J., POWLSON, D.S. & POULTON, P.R. (1988). Report to MAFF on contract CSA 1058 (October 1988): Nitrate leaching from arable land, 19pp.
3. MACDONALD, A.J., POWLSON, D.S. & POULTON, P.R. (1990). Report to MAFF on contract CSA 1058 (January 1990): Nitrate leaching from arable land, 33pp.
4. MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., POWLSON, D.S. & JENKINSON, D.S. (1992). Final report to MAFF on contract CSA 1058 (January 1992): Nitrate leaching from arable land, 128pp.
5. MACDONALD, A.J., POULTON, P.R., STOCKDALE, E.A., GLENDINING, M.J., POWLSON, D.S., SMITH, J.U., AND JENKINSON D.S. (2000). Long-term effects of nitrogen fertilizer on the fertility of arable soils. Final Report to MAFF on project NT2308.
6. MACDONALD, A.J., WEBSTER, C.P., POULTON, P.R., AND GOULDING, K.W.T. (2001). Losses of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) from arable soils. Final Report to MAFF on project NT1319.
7. MACDONALD, A.J., GOULDING K.W.T., BHOGAL A., NICHOLSON F., DIXON L AND HATCH D. (2005). WP4: N loss to surface and ground waters. Component Report for WP4 as part of project NT2605 (Grant No 4640).
8. KNIGHT S., MACDONALD A., GLENDINING M., WHITMORE A., DAILEY G., GOULDING K., SINCLAIR A. AND REES R (2008). Better estimation of soil nitrogen use efficiency by cereals and oilseed rape. HGCA Research Review No.68, February 2008.
PhD in Soil Science (The University of Reading)
BSc in Agricultural Botany (Aberystwyth University)
Measures of esteem
- Speaker at the 16th N Workshop: Oral presentation at the 16th N Workshop in Turin
- Speaker at the EGU meeting: Oral presentation at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna.
- Speaker at the CERN meeting: Invited speaker at the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network Conference in Beijing.
- Travel Award: Obtained travel funds from NERC to give an oral presentation at the University of Western Australia in 2005.
- Best poster presentation: Author of a poster entitled Effects of Land Use and Management on Soluble Organic N in British Soils, which was awarded best poster in its section at the N workshop meeting in 2003.
- British Society of Soil Science: Member of the British Society of Soil Scien
- Refereeing Papers: Regular reviews of scientific papers for journals in my research field, including; Plant and Soil, Soil Use and Management and Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.