Soil physics and soil characterisation

Our work on soil physics and soil characterisation operates across scales from microscopic to landscape and across a diverse range of settings from arable agriculture to semi-natural and natural environments.

This work leverages access to real-world farm sites, through our research farms, particularly for our work on soil physics, whilst our survey activities reach across Scotland. The robustness of our science is attested by refereed publication and its impact by connecting with stakeholders.

We have developed novel approaches to investigate soil mechanical and hydrological processes at the micro-scale. Much of the work is interdisciplinary with our Ecological Sciences group and others, focussing on how the root-soil interface affects the productivity of crops and understanding how soil microbes and plant roots manipulate their physical habitat. Good soil management is essential for sustainable agriculture. We study how farming practices influence physical limitations to root growth, soil erosion, physical damage to soil function and the impact of tillage on greenhouse gasses.

The soil physics and characterisation group also holds the nationally important soil archive and national soil datasets. Here we apply our knowledge to the development of novel methods for soil monitoring, biophysical resource analyses and rapid methods of soil and water characterisation. Our work on soil and vegetation surveys informs both research and consultancies across a wide range of contexts and contributes to policy development within Scottish Government.

With collaborators we quantify the benefits of new engineering and agricultural approaches that improve farming systems.

Magdalena Krol, Allan Lilly, Kenneth Loades, Blair McKenzie, Nikki Baggaley, John Bell, Carrie Donald, Gillian Green, Evelyn McMurray, Andrew Nolan, Jason Owen, Diane Smith, Caroline Thomson, Willie Towers, Esther Williams