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Spotlight on Hutton soil science at 7th International Soil Organic Matter symposium

Matt Aitkenhead speaks at the 7th SOM symposium in Adelaide, Australia
"We need much more social science research into improved engagement, uptake and adaptation by land managers towards practices that we already know will work"

Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it is past time to start driving large-scale change and the James Hutton Institute is well-placed to focus on the implementation of land management options that we know are beneficial for soil organic matter and a range of soil functions. That was one of the key messages of Dr Matt Aitkenhead, Hutton soils modeller, at the 7th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter (6th-10th October 2019) in Adelaide, Australia.

The theme of the conference was ‘Soil Organic Matter in a Stressed World’, and much of the emphasis was on climate change impacts, mitigation and land management. During his plenary talk, Dr Aitkenhead highlighted Scottish Government-funded soils research within the Institute and the breadth, depth and significance of all the work done at the Institute in this area.

“We need much more social science research into improved engagement, uptake and adaptation by land managers towards practices that we already know will work. While this may seem obvious to Hutton researchers and is something we are already doing, it was a bit of a refreshing suggestion to many of the other attendees,” Dr Aitkenhead said.

“My final argument that soils scientists and other environmental researchers should not be afraid to advocate for change was met with open arms. This, and the fact that the Institute now has a dedicated ClimateChange@Hutton initiative, were seen as important steps towards improving our impact and driving real change.”

The SOM 2019 conference reflected on the challenges the planet faces, and the potential, if understood and managed well, for soil organic matter to contribute in many ways towards the solution.

At the meeting, delegates from 38 countries shared unique experiences and knowledge on many aspects of this topic, bringing together new perspectives and knowledge on the biological, chemical and physical processes that govern and interact with soil organic matter, and their application in an increasingly stressed environment.

Dr Aitkenhead’s background spans a wide range of soil and environmental topics, and the modelling of complex environmental system. He has worked for several years at the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute, and has over 50 publications including refereed papers, conference proceedings, technical reports and popular articles.

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Printed from /news/spotlight-hutton-soil-science-7th-international-soil-organic-matter-symposium on 20/11/19 05:24:30 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.