Research includes: Optimisation of micronutrient status in food crops, risk assessment of metals and metalloids in soils, bio-indicators of pollution, focussing on heavy metals and manufactured nanoparticles, biogeochemistry of phosphorus, sulphur and trace elements in soils, microbes and plants.
Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems
The Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department has staff at both the Harpenden and North Wyke sites. We aim to understand, model and manipulate the abiotic and biotic processes in arable and grazed grassland soils to improve the function, resilience and sustainability of farming systems.
Areas of scientific expertise
The Department has internationally-acknowledged expertise in the biology, chemistry and physics of soils and soil processes in arable and grazed grassland systems. It has particular expertise in nutrient and pollutant cycling, especially of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and micronutrients, the recycling of organic manures, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, soil-root interactions, and soil and crop modelling. The Department delivers to Rothamsted's strategic objectives in the areas of sustainable soil and grassland management.
The Department links most closely to the Delivering Sustainable Systems research programme, delivering research on sustainable soil and grassland management. It also delivers research into soil-root interactions to '20:20 Wheat®', on carbon cycling, sequestration and modelling to 'Cropping Carbon', and on micronutrient quality of cereal grains to 'Designing Seeds'.
Research focusses on evaluating the sustainability of modern agricultural practices and the tradeoffs with the provision of environmental goods and services. An ecosystem services approach has been adopted for use with mathematical models that quantify, value and compare the provision and resilience of provision of goods and environmental services in both space and time and in the face of stresses such as climate change and growth in demand.
The world needs innovative solutions for the sustainable intensification of its major agricultural systems. The North Wyke Farm Platform represents a large investment by BBSRC in the future, to not only study but also improve grassland livestock systems in a national and global research asset linked to real-world farming.
Department Press Releases
An international group of scientists, led by Professor David Powlson, Lawes Trust Senior Fellow at Rothamsted Research, have published a critical review in the journal Nature Climate Change which concludes that the role of no-till agriculture in mitigating climate change may be over-stated.
A consortium of UK based organisations, including Rothamsted Research, has been awarded funding to look into cropping systems that could harness the phosphorus already available in soils.
Livestock farming, that works best for individuals, communities and the planet, should be supported by studies on best practice using research farm platform facilities.
The unique Farm Platform facility of Rothamsted Research in North Wyke Devon will be used for a new project which aims to develop new grasses that enable grassland soils to capture increased volumes of rainfall, thereby reducing the risk of flooding downstream. The 5 year £2.5 million LINK project named SUREROOT is funded by the BBSRC and match-funded by a range of industrial partners from across the food production spectrum, including a seed company, major retailer and the meat, poultry and dairy industry. It is led by scientists at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in partnership with Rothamsted Research.
Rothamsted Research is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor John Crawford. John Crawford joined Rothamsted Research at the beginning of November 2013 and he will lead the Institute's Delivering Sustainable Systems Strategic Programme, which is funded by the BBSRC. His aim is to support the growth of integrative research at Rothamsted.
Professor Steve McGrath awarded this prestigious international post to support sustainable agriculture and environmental management systems