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Optimising soil conditions

This page is no longer updated. The information presented here formed part of our previous areas of research. This has included research carried out on behalf of our research partners, commerical contracts and also the Scottish Goverment's Strategic research programme during the period 2011 - 2016.

Scottish Goverment LogoWe have left these pages here to provide background information on our previous areas of research. Further details on the RESAS strategic programme of research (2016-21) will be made available.

Further details on why we archive pages can be found on the following page.

Photograph of a potato field post harvest
New soil management practices and their impact on crop productivity are central to our research in this area.

The degradation of soil is one of the major threats to the sustainable intensification of farming. New soil management practices and their impact on crop productivity are central to our research in this area.  Alternatives to conventional fertilisers, such as organic wastes, are among the options being studied to improve soil fertility and its capacity to increase crop production.  Improved retention and cycling of nutrients in soil is investigated using advanced molecular and biogeochemical methods.  This includes the understanding of soil organisms responsible for nitrogen cycling and how they are impacted by land management.  The impact of farming systems on soil biodiversity and the implications for crop productivity and the environment is a key research area.

Carbon is a vital component of sustainable soils.  We examine interactions between carbon compounds and soil minerals, the sequestration of carbon by soil aggregation and enhanced mineralisation of carbon by priming from plants or soil disturbance.  Fast analytical tools, such as FTIR, are being developed to characterise carbon compounds in the field.

Soil physical conditions have a major impact on crop productivity, with compaction and erosion presenting serious threats to soil.  We study mechanical and hydrological processes of soil that impact the wider environment and the development of roots.  Management approaches to decrease soil erosion are being developed using field experiments and the processes leading to erosion are investigated in controlled laboratory studies.


Areas of Interest

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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.