Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows


Lianhai Wu

North Wyke
North Wyke

My academic career began at the project of On-site Investigation and Optimization of Cropping Systems in Huang-Huai-Hai Plain in Beijing. Dozens of international & national programs have been involved since then. I have worked on various aspects of land use, environmental protection, climate change, and nutrient cycling at China Agricultural University, China, various campuses of Scottish Agricultural College, UK, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden, and at the University of Oklahoma, USA. My research program focuses on the interaction between ecological and climatic systems, process-based modelling of arable, grass and forest ecosystems, and the applications of GIS in natural resource management. I developed a system model - SPACSYS - that integrates the interactions among below- and above- ground plant growth with development stages, nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) cycling, water and heat movements in the plant-atmosphere-soil continuum into a single package (may download it by clicking here). My research interests are in the areas of the interaction of plants with their physical environment, climate change, and systems modelling.

+44 (0) 1837 883 500 ext: +44 1837 883572
Rothamsted Research - North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB
Past Projects
Principal Investigator
  • Understanding processes determining soil carbon balances under perennial bioenergy crops: CARBO-BIOCROP Joint project with BCC and CSEF
Project Leader
  • Potential for nitrification inhibitors and fertilizer nitrogen application timing strategies to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from UK agriculture
  • Modelling the path to better soil-applied pesticides
  • GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Platform - Nitrous Oxide Emission Factors
  • GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Platform - Data management of the UK National Inventory
  • Minimising nitrous oxide intensities of arable crop products: MIN NO
  • Robust models for assessing the effectiveness of technologies and managements to reduce N2O emissions from grazed pastures: Models4Pastures
  • Managing soil physical properties to maximise wheat yield
  • Jiang, Y., Huang, X., Zhang, X., Zhang, Y., Deng, A., Zhang, J., Wu, L., and Zhang, W. (2016). Increasing rice harvest index can reduce N2O emissions from paddy fields. Scientific Reports DOI: 10.1038/srep29333.
  • Kipling, R. P., Virkajärvi, P., Breitsameter, L., Curnel, Y., De Swaef, T., Gustavsson, A.-M., Hennart, S., Höglind, M., Järvenranta, K., Minet, J., Nendel, C., Persson, T., Picon-Cochard, C., Rolinski, S., Sandars, D. L., Scollan, N. D., Sebek, L., Seddaiu, G., Topp, C. F. E., Twardy, S., Van Middelkoop, J., Wu, L., and Bellocchi, G. (2016). Key challenges and priorities for modelling European grasslands under climate change. Science of the Total Environment 566-567, 851–864.
  • Wu, L., Zhang, X., Griffith, B. A., and Misselbrook, T. (2016). Sustainable grassland systems: A modelling perspective based on the North Wyke Farm Platform. European Journal of Soil Science 67, 397-408.
  • Orr, R., Murray, P., Eyles, C., Blackwell, M., Cardenas, L., Collins, A. L., Dungait, J., Goulding, K., Griffith, B., Gurr, S., Harris, P., Hawkins, J., Misselbrook, T., Rawlings, C., Shepherd, A., Sint, H., Takahashi, T., Tozer, K., Whitmore, A. P., Wu, L., and Lee, M. (2016). The North Wyke Farm Platform: effect of temperate grassland farming systems on soil moisture contents, runoff and associated water quality dynamics. European Journal of Soil Science 67, 374-385.
  • Perego, A., Wu, L., Gerosa, G., Finco, A., Chiazzese, M., and Amaducci, S. (2016). Field evaluation combined with modelling analysis to study fertilizer and tillage as factors affecting N2O emissions: a case study in Po valley (Northern Italy) Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 225, 72-85.
  • Shepherd, A., Atuhaire, W., Wu, Lianhai, Hogan, D., Dunn, R., and Cardenas, L. (2016). Historic record of pasture soil water and the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation in south-west England. Hydrological Research.
  • Abalos, D., Cardenas, L. M., and Wu, L. (2016). Climate change and N2O emissions from South West England grasslands: a modelling approach. Atmospheric Environment 132, 249-257.
  • Zhang, X., Sun, N., Wu, L., Xu, M., Bingham, I. J., and Li, Z. (2016). Effects of enhancing soil organic carbon sequestration in the topsoil by fertilization on crop productivity and stability: evidence from long-term experiments with wheat-maize cropping systems in China. Science of The Total Environment 562, 247-259.
  • Zhang, X., Xu, M., Liu, J., Sun, N., Wang, B., and Wu, L. (2016). Greenhouse gas emissions and stocks of soil carbon and nitrogen from a 20-year fertilised wheat-maize intercropping system: A model approach. Journal of Environmental Management 167, 105-114.
  • Zhang, X., Xu, M., Sun, N., Xiong, W., Huang, S., and Wu, L. (2016). Modelling and predicting crop yield, soil carbon and nitrogen stocks under climate change scenarios with fertiliser management in the North China Plain. Geoderma 265, 176-186. 
  • C. Kollas, K.C. Kersebaum, C. Nendel, K. Manevski, C. Müller, T. Palosuo, C.M. Armas-Herrera, N. Beaudoin, M. Bindi, M. Charfeddine, T. Conradt, J. Constantin, J. Eitzinger, F. Ewert, R. Ferrise, T. Gaiser, I.G. de Cortazar-Atauri, L. Giglio, P. Hlavinka, H. Hoffmann, M.P. Hoffmann, M. Launay, R. Manderscheid, B. Mary, W. Mirschel, M. Moriondo, J.E. Olesen, I. Öztürk, A. Pacholski, D. Ripoche-Wachter, P.P. Roggero, S. Roncossek, R.P. Rötter, F. Ruget, B. Sharif, M. Trnka, D. Ventrella, K. Waha, M. Wegehenkel, H.-J. Weigel, L. Wu, (2015) Crop rotation modelling - a European model intercomparison, European Journal of Agronomy. 70: 98-111.
  • N. Pirttioja, T.R. Carter, S. Fronzek, M. Bindi, H. Hoffmann, T. Palosuo, M. Ruiz-Ramos, F. Tao, M. Trnka, M. Acutis, S. Asseng, P. Baranowski, B. Basso, P. Bodin, S. Buis, D. Cammarano, P. Deligios, M.-F. Destain, B. Dumont, F. Ewert, R. Ferrise, L. François, T. Gaiser, P. Hlavinka, I. Jacquemin, K.C. Kersebaum, C. Kollas, J. Krzyszczak, I.J. Lorite, J. Minet, M.I. Minguez, M. Montesino, M. Moriondo, C. Müller, C. Nendel, I. Öztürk, A. Perego, A. Rodríguez, A.C. Ruane, F. Ruget, M. Sanna, M.A. Semenov, C. Slawinski, P. Stratonovitch, I. Supit, K. Waha, W. Enli, L. Wu, Z. Zhao, R.P. Rötter (2015) A crop model ensemble analysis of temperature and precipitation effects on wheat yield across a European transect using impact response surfaces, Climate Research. 65:87-105.
  • L. Wu, R. M. Rees, Tarsitano, D., X. Zhang, S. K. Jones and A. P. Whitmore (2015). Simulation of nitrous oxide emissions at field scale using the SPACSYS model. Science of the Total Environment. 530–531, 76-86
  • Sándor, R., Ma, S., Acutis, M., Barcza, Z., Ben Touhami, H., Doro, L., Hidy, D., Köchy, M., Lellei-Kovács, E., Minet, J., Perego, A., Rolinski, S., Ruget, F., Seddaiu, G., Wu, L., Bellocchi, G. (2015). Uncertainty in simulating biomass yield and carbon–water fluxes from grasslands under climate change. Advances in Animal Biosciences. 6: 49-51
  • J. Fan, J. Wang, B. Zhao, L. Wu, C. Zhang, X. Zhao and K. v. Gadow (2015). Effects of manipulated above- and belowground organic matter input on soil respiration in a chinese pine plantation. PLoS ONE. 10, e0126337
  • Y. Yan, L. Wu, X. Xin, X. Wang and G. Yang (2015) How rain-formed soil crust affects wind erosion in a semi-arid steppe in northern China. Geoderma. 249–250:79-86
  • L. Wu, A. P. Whitmore and G. Bellocchi (2015). Modelling the impact of environmental changes on grassland systems with SPACSYS. Advances in Animal Biosciences 6:37-39
  • X. Zhang, L. Wu, N. Sun, X. Ding, F. Li, B, Wang and D, Li, (2014) Soil CO2 and N2O emissions in maize growing season under different fertilizer regimes in an upland red soil region of south China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture. 13: 604-614
  • Ma S., M. Acutis, Z. Barcza, H. Ben Touhami, L. Doro, D. Hidy, M. Koechy, J. Minet, E. Lellei-Kovacs, A. Perego, S. Rolinski, F. Ruget, G. Seddaiu, L. Wu, and G. Bellocchi. (2014). The grassland model intercomparison of the MACSUR (Modelling European Agriculture with Climate Change for Food Security) European knowledge hub. D. P. Ames et al. (Eds.). Proceedings of the 7th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software, June 15-19, San Diego, California, USA.  ISBN: 978-88-9035-744-2
  • Vanessa M. Dunbabin, Johannes Postma, Andrea Schnepf, Loïc Pagès, Mathieu Javaux, Lianhai Wu, Daniel Leitner, Ying L. Chen, Zed Rengel and Art J. Diggle (2013). Modelling root-soil interactions using three-dimensional models of root growth and architecture. Plant and Soil 372:93-124
  • X. B. Zhang, M. G. Xu, N, Sun, X. J. Wang, L. Wu, B, R. Wang and D. C. Li 2013). How do environmental factors and different fertilizer strategies affect soil CO2 emission and carbon sequestration in the upland soils of southern China? Applied Soil Ecology. 72:108-109
  • Jinsong Wang, Juan Fan, Xiuhua Fan, Chunyu Zhang, L. Wu and Klaus v. Gadow (2013). Crown and root biomass equations for the small trees of Pinus koraiensis under canopy. Dendrobiology 70: 13-25
  • Jinzhou Wang, Chang’ai Lu, Minggang Xu , Ping Zhu, Shaomin Huang, Wenju Zhang, Chang Peng, Xianni Chen and L. Wu. (2013) Soil organic carbon sequestration under different fertilizer regimes in north and northeast China: RothC simulation. Soil Use and Management. 29:182-190. doi: 10.1111/sum.12032
  • L. Wu. and I. J. Bingham. (2013). Differences in one-, two-, and three-dimensional modelling of root growth for soil water, carbon, and nutrients. in: Timlin, D. and Ahuja, L. (Eds) Enhancing Understanding and Quantification of Soil-Root Growth Interactions. ASA, CSSA, SSSA, Madison. pp119-154.
  • Yanyan Liu, L. Wu, C. A. Watson, J. A. Baddeley, Xuebiao Pan, Lizhen Zhang. (2013) Modelling Biological Nitrogen Fixation of Field Pea (Pisum Sativum L.) with a Process-Based Simulation Model. Agronomy Journal. 105(3):670-678
  • Jinsong Wang, L. Wu, Xiuhai Zhao, Juan Fan, Chunyu Zhang and Klaus von. Gadow. (2013). Influence of ground flora on Fraxinus mandshurica seedling growth on abandoned land and beneath forest canopy. European Journal of Forest Reserach. 132:313-324. doi 10.1007/s10342-012-0676-8
  • J. A. J. Dungait, L. Cardenas, M. Blackwell, L. Wu, A. Whitmore, P. Murray, D. Chadwick, R. Bol, A. Macdonald and K. Goulding (2012) Future-proofing macronutrient cycling in UK agricultural systems. Science of the Total Environment. 434:29-50
  • T. Wu, Y. Wang, C. Yu, R. Chiarawipa, X. Zhang, Z. Han and L. Wu (2012). Carbon sequestration by fruit trees – Chinese apple orchards as an example. PloS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038883
  • Y. Liu, L. Wu, J. A. Baddeley, and C. A. Watson. (2011). Models of biological nitrogen fixation of legumes. in Lichtfouse, E. Marjolaine Hamelin, M., Navarrete, M. and Debaeke, P. (Eds) Sustainable Agriculture Volume 2. Springer, Dordrecht. p883-906
  • L. Wu and A. Shepherd. (2011). Special features of the SPACSYS modelling package and procedures for parameterization and validation. in Ahuja, L. and Ma, L. (Eds) Methods of Introducing System Models into Agricultural Research. ASA, CSSA, SSSA, Madison. p117-154
  • Shepherd, L. Wu, D. Chadwick, and R. Bol (2011). A review of quantitative tools for assessing the diffuse pollution response to farmer adaptations and mitigation methods under climate change. Advances in Agronomy. 112:1-54
  • J. Wang, C. Zhang, F. Xia, X. Zhao, L. Wu, and K. von. Gadow (2011). Biomass structure and allometry of Abies nephrolepis (Maxim) in northeast China.  Silva Fennica. 45: 211-226
  • L. Wu, A. Shepherd and D. R. Chadwick. (2011). Quantify response of crop systems to future climate change using SPACSYS model. Aspects of Applied Biology. 107:57-62
  • J. Bingham and L. Wu. (2011). Simulation of wheat growth using the 3D root architecture model SPACSYS: validation and sensitivity analysis. European Journal of Agronomy. 34:181-189
  • Y. Liu, L. Wu, J. A. Baddeley, and C. A. Watson. (2011). Models of biological nitrogen fixation of legumes. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 31: 155-172.
  • L. Wu and I. J. Bingham (2009). Using modelling as a tool to explore resource use efficiency by crops. Aspects of Applied Biology. 93:257-261
  • L. Wu and K. C. Kersebaum (2008). Modelling water and N interaction responses and their consequences in crop models. in Ahuja, L. et al. (Eds) Modeling Water Stress Effects on Plant Growth Processes, Vol. 1 of the Advances in Agricultural Systems Modeling: Transdisciplinary Research, synthesis, and Applications Series. ASA, CSSA, SSSA, Madison. 215-249
  • L. Wu, I. J. Bingham, J. A. Baddeley, and C. A. Watson. (2008). The importance of 3D root architecture when simulating plant N uptake. in Ma L. et al. (Eds) Quantifying& Understanding Plant Nitrogen Uptake Systems Modeling. Taylor & Francis Group LLC, Boca Raton, FL. 197-218
  • L. Wu , M. B. McGechan, N. McRoberts, J. A. Baddeley, and C. A. Watson. (2007). The impact of a detailed 3D root architecture component within a system on nutrient cycling - Model description. Ecological Modelling. 200:343-359
  • L. Wu, B. C. Ball, J. A. Baddeley and C. A. Watson (2006). Simulation of gaseous emissions of nitrogen from organic ley-arable systems under different management regimes. Aspects of Applied Biology. 80: 101-108
  • R. Giha, C. F. E. Topp, L. Toma, L. Wu (2006). Economic and environmental analysis of the introduction of legumes in livestock farming systems. Aspects of Applied Biology . 79: 199-203
  • Watson, J. A. Baddeley, and L. Wu. (2006). Nitrate leaching under grain legumes - What role do roots play? Pages 99-104 in European Association for Grain Legume Research (Eds) Grain legumes and the environment: How to assess benefits and impacts?
  • L. Wu , J. A. Baddeley, and C. A. Watson. (2005). Designer root systems - the value of modelling to determine optimum root systems for different end uses. Aspects of Applied Biology. 73 :11-16.
  • L. Wu , M. B. McGechan, C. A. Watson, and J. A. Baddeley. (2005). Developing existing plant root-system architecture models to meet future agricultural challenges. Advances in Agronomy. 85:181-219.
  • Y. Luo, L. Wu, J. A. Andrews, L. White, R. Matamala, K. V. R. Schafer, and W. H. Schlesinger. (2001). Elevated CO2 differentiates ecosystem carbon processes: a deconvolution analysis of Duke Forest FACE data. Ecological Monographs. 71(3):357-376.
  • M. B. McGechan, and L. Wu . (2001) A review of carbon and nitrogen processes in European soil nitrogen dynamics models. In: Shaffer, M. J, Ma, L. and Hansen, S. (Eds.) Modeling carbon and nitrogen dynamics for soil management. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, 103-171.
  • M. B. McGechan, D. R. Lewis, L. Wu, and I. P. McTaggart. (2001). Modeling the effects of manure and fertilizer management options on soil carbon and nitrogen processes. In: Shaffer, M. J, Ma, L. and Hansen, S. (Eds.) Modeling carbon and nitrogen dynamics for soil management. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, 427-458.
  • G. Yuan and L. Wu. (2000). Spatial and temporal analysis on agricultural drought under double cropping system of winter wheat and summer maize in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Plain area. Journal of Chinese Agrometeorology. 21:5-9 (in Chinese)
  • L. Wu and M. B. McGechan. (1999). Simulation of nitrogen uptake, fixation and leaching in grass/white clover mixture. Grass and Forage Science. 54:30-41.
  • L. Wu . (1999). Application of quantitative models to use of agricultural resources and environmental protection for agricultural sustainability. Transactions of the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering. 14:226-232 (Supplement) (in Chinese)
  • M. B. McGechan and L. Wu. (1998). Environmental impacts, nutrient recycling potential and economics of animal slurry equipment investment options. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research. 71:273-283.
  • L. Wu, M. B. McGechan, D. R. Lewis, P. S. Hooda, and A. J. A. Vinten. (1998). Parameter selection and testing the soil nitrogen dynamics model SOILN. Soil Use and Management.14:170-181.
  • L. Wu and M. B. McGechan. (1998). Simulation of biomass, carbon and nitrogen accumulation in grass to link with a soil nitrogen dynamics model. Grass and Forage Science. 53:233-249.
  • L. Wu and M. B. McGechan. (1998). A review of carbon and nitrogen processes in four soil nitrogen dynamics models. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research. 69:279-305.
  • L. Wu, M. B. McGechan, and A. C. Knight. (1997). Simulation of allocation of accumulated biomass to leaf and stem in a grass growth model. Grass and Forage Science. 52:445-448.
  • M. J. Salinger, R. Desjardins, M. B. Jones, M. V. K. Sivakumar, N. D. Strommen, S. Veerasamy, and Lianhai Wu. (1997). Climate Variability, Agriculture and Forestry: An Update. Technical Note No. 199. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. pp51. 



PhD in Soil Science (China Agricultural University)

MSc in Agricultural meteorology (China Agricultural University)

BSc in Agricultural meteorology (Nanjing Institute of Meteorology)

Measures of esteem


  • Implementation group member: South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership


  • Editorial member: Horticultural Plant Journal


  • associate editor: Forest Ecosystems


  • Assess adaptation and mitigation practices under different climate change scenarios using SPACSYS model: The 3rd International Workshop on C Sequestration and Climate Change Mitigation in Agriculture, Beijing
  • co-supervisor of PhD student: Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
  • member of scientific committee: The Fourth International Symposium on Plant Growth Modeling, Simulation, Visualization and Applications, Shanghai


  • Simulate soil C and N fluxes incorporating leguminous N fixation in agricultural systems: CLIMMANI/INTERFACE workshop on Nutrient constraints on the net carbon balance, Keflavik, Iceland
  • Assessment of adaptation measures to climate change in temperate grassland: 2011' Yanling International Agri-science Forum, Yangling, China


  • membership: British Society of Soil Science
  • visiting professor: Center for Agricultural Resources Research, IGDB, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • co-supervisor of PhD student: Beijing Forestry University


  • Adjunct professor: Institute of Resources and Environment, China Agricultural University
  • oral paper: The use of simulation modeling to explore interactions between root systems and environments and its implications for resource use efficiency - ASA-CSSA-SSSA 2009 international annual meetings in Pittsburgh, USA
  • member of scientific committee: The Third International Symposium on Plant Growth Modeling, Simulation, Visualization and Applications, Beijing


  • Associate Editor: Agronomy Journal


  • Supervisor


  • membership: Association of Applied Biologists


  • Achievement Award: Ministry of Land and Resources, China


  • Achievement Award: Ministry of Agriculture, China


  • Outstanding Performance Award: National Planning Committee, Science and Technology Committee and Ministry of Finance, China