Grantham Centre soil researchers come from across disciplines at the University of Sheffield to work on soil. From chemistry to social sciences, working all around the world, we have a diverse group of soil experts. All this builds on a long history of soil science at the Grantham Centre – our people were at the famous 2015 COP21 (where the Paris Agreement was signed) to ring the bell about an impending disaster for soil.
Here you can find information about all our soil research and outreach. You’ll find publications, webinars and blogs our people have created over the years. If this inspires you to stay in touch then why not join our newsletter?
In 2021, Grantham Scholars brought together a fantastic panel of soil experts for a webinar on soil health, including Rosa Poch from the FAO (introducing the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity report). Watch the video here ↓
Official COP26 observer for the University of Sheffield and Grantham Scholar Mary Eliza explains her hopes and fears for COP26. Plus we talk about her research into legumes and the future of sustainable food. Read: COP observer interview: Mary Eliza.
Grantham Scholar Joe Llanos is studying earthworms – creatures that can significantly improve the quality of the soil. Despite the importance of these animals, information on their diversity and behaviour is lacking. Joe's work - collecting worm DNA from the soil - is helping to put that right.
Read our interview with him: Meet the Earthworm CSI.
Speaking at the all important COP in Paris in 2015, experts from the Grantham Centre revealed that nearly 33% of the world’s arable land has been lost to erosion or pollution in the last 40 years.
Our people produced a briefing note that explained the problem. Find out more and a link to the full briefing note here: Soil loss: an unfolding global disaster – Grantham Centre briefing note.
Grantham Scholar Jenny Veenstra is a soil scientist on a mission to make us appreciate the wonder of soil. For UN World Soil Day, Jenny asks us to consider soil as more than an inert substance. For her, soils as entities, ones which interact with our lives in many ways.
Read: Why I think of soils as entities by Jenny Veenstra.
Grantham Scholar Emanga Alobwede explains how algae could be a sustainable replacement for synthetic fertilisers.
Algal fertilisers help improve soil fertility through the increase of soil carbon and nitrogen. Plus, through the aggregation of soil particles, algal fertilisers improve soil structure. They also secrete substances that help bind soil particles together, as well as help soil overcome conditions of water stress.
Find out more in Emanga's blog: The advantages of algae as biofertilisers in agriculture by Emanga Alobwede.
In this blog for UN World Soil Day, Grantham Centre Director Tony Ryan offers what might seem a counter-intuitive solution to soil pollution – plastic.
Centre Administrator Jana Green led a gold award winning Green Impact team at the University of Sheffield. Jana and her team created SHEFF-Yield - a program to encourage people in Sheffield to grow their own food. In order to do this, the team made a series of webinars. Topics included hydroponics and organic gardening. Several Grantham Scholars and team members took part, sharing their specialised knowledge with a wider audience.
Grantham Centre experts gave evidence to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) about soil health and compostable packaging. Duncan Cameron, Jurriaan Ton, Jonathan Leake and Stephen Rolfe took part. All are Grantham supervisors, and Duncan is on our Management Board. Plus, Grantham supervisor Anna Krzywoszynska's research was directly referenced.
The POSTnotes produced are Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture, Sustaining the Soil Microbiome and Compostable Food Packaging.
For an overview of the POSTnotes and more on how Deborah Beck and David Rapley organised them, read Our experts give evidence on soil and plastic to Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
Grantham supervisors and soil research
We gave Grantham supervisor Anna Krzywoszynska funding to launch the Soil Care Network, a global network of interdisciplinary scholars.
Another supervisor, Steve Banwart helped produce an important report on soil carbon management.
Duncan Cameron sits on our Management Board and was one of the authors of our 2015 briefing note. Along with Colin Osborne, Duncan spoke about the solution to soil loss at Chatham House.
And our former Chief Science Advisor Peter Horton wrote about the links between soil and a sustainable food system.
Grantham Scholars past and present have worked on soil
Tinashe Mawodza's project examined plants engineered to use water efficiently and looked at the impact this tinkering had on root development and soil structure.
Niall Bradshaw explains in a blog why limited reserves of phosphorous (a fertiliser) could cause a crisis in food security. Read: Fighting for phosphorus and food security by Niall Bradshaw.
Harry Wright researched hydroponics and soil-less soil. Find out about his research on his project page: Recyclable polymer foams as synthetic soils for cultivation of high-value horticultural crops.
And Magdalena Matysek examined soil carbon, peat, and climate change in the Arctic.
Nancy Muringai is exploring the link between the rhizosphere and soil health with the aim to advance our understanding of soil health.
You met them above: Jenny Veenstra studied the factors that influence European farmers in their decision-making about no tillage adoption. And Joe Llanos researched novel techniques to monitor worm populations by using eDNA.