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National Soil Resources Institute

The National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) has a prestigious heritage, forming in 2001 from the union of the Soil Survey and Land Research Centre and parts of the National College of Agricultural Engineering. We represent the largest group of soil scientists in any UK university or institute, with over 25 staff including four professorial.

Our expertise includes:

  • Soil Systems - understanding and modelling soil physical, chemical and biological processes and their roles in delivering ecosystem services
  • Soil and Land Management - soil protection and degradation, and sustainable land management including soil policy formulation
  • Spatial Geosciences - measuring, monitoring and assessing soils and their functions and services
  • Soil Spatial Informatics - creation and exploitation of soil resource inventories and monitoring systems.

  • Our impact and facilities

    Our work has direct economic, social and environmental impacts. Soils are effectively non-renewable resources that provide essential goods and services to humans and the planet. Our research, training and consultancy activities are aimed at better understanding soil properties and processes and how soils can be managed to deliver goods and services without degradation.

    NSRI is the UK National Reference Centre for soil, and is a member of the European Environment and Observation Network (EIONET) and of the European Soil Bureau Network. We hold national and international soil reference data and samples, publically-accessible through the Land Information System (LandIS) and the World Soil Survey and Archive Catalogue (WOSSAC).

    Our research ranges from basic aspects of soil science, supported by the UK Research Councils, to more applied aspects of soil management and government policy-support, supported by Defra, the EU and various private sector organisations.

    Our expertise covers basic soil physics, chemistry and biology; pedology and pedometrics; mathematical modelling and model-data fusion; spatial data sciences; and systems-level integration. We have some of the best laboratory and field facilities for soils research in Europe, including:

    • Laboratories for soil physics, chemistry and biology
    • The Soil Management Facility for soil mechanics and study of soil degradation processes, soil management and conservation, and soil-machine interactions
    • The Wolfson Field Laboratory for whole-soil carbon balances and trace gas emissions, including stable isotope measurements
    • The University Farm at Silsoe, comprising 87 hectares of commercially-run arable land.
    • National Soil Resources Institute

      NSRI has a prestigious heritage, forming in 2001 from the union of the Soil Survey and Land Research Centre and parts of the National College of Agricultural Engineering.

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  • Our people

    • Name: Dr David Aldred
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Environment and Health
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    • Name: Mr Tim Brewer
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Sustainable Land Systems, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Dr Ronald Corstanje
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Environmental Informatics
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Sustainable Land Systems, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Dr Lynda Deeks
      Job Title: Research Fellow in Soil Science
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Carbon, Climate Adaptation and Environmental Risk, Environmental Policy and Regulation, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Dr Timothy Farewell
      Job Title: Senior Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Energy, Environmental Impacts, Energy Asset Integrity Management, Environment, Environment and Health, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Water Science and Engineering
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    • Name: Miss Fiona Fraser
      Job Title: Research Fellow-Soil Microbiology Resili
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Dr Darren Grafius
      Job Title: Research Fellow
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Additional Area, Computing, Simulation and modelling
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    • Name: Dr Stephen Hallett
      Job Title: Prin Res Fell Environmental Informatics
      Areas of expertise:
      Energy, Environmental Impacts, Environment, Carbon, Climate Adaptation and Environmental Risk, Energy and the Environment, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Mrs Ann Holden
      Job Title: GIS Developer
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Ms Caroline Keay
      Job Title: Senior Information Scientist
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Carbon, Climate Adaptation and Environmental Risk, Environmental Policy and Regulation, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Professor Guy Kirk
      Job Title: Professor of Soil Systems
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    • Name: Dr Ronnie Lambert
      Job Title: Reader in Applied Microbiology
      Areas of expertise:
      Health, Food Safety, Food Quality
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    • Name: Dr Jacqueline Hannam
      Job Title: Senior Research Fellow in Pedology
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Sustainable Land Systems, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Professor Naresh Magan
      Job Title: Professor of Applied Mycology
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Health, Food Safety, Food Quality, Agrifood
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    • Name: Dr Thomas Mayr
      Job Title: Principal Research Fellow – Pedometrics
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Sustainable Land Systems, Environmental Management for Defence, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Dr Angel Medina-Vaya
      Job Title: Visiting Academic
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Health, Food Safety, Food Quality, Agrifood
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    • Name: Dr Abdul Mouazen
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Agri & Environ Engine
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Sustainable Land Systems, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Dr Jose Ordaz Ortiz
      Job Title: Research Fellow - Plant Metabolomics
      Areas of expertise:
      Health, Food Safety, Food Quality, Agrifood
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    • Name: Dr Mark Pawlett
      Job Title: Research Fellow Soil Microbial Ecology
      Areas of expertise:
      Energy, Biomass and Waste, Environment, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Manufacturing, Nanotechnology
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    • Name: Professor Leon Terry
      Job Title: Head of Cranfield Soil & AgriFood Institute
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Sustainable Land Systems, Environment and Health, Health, Food Safety, Food Quality, Agrifood
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    • Name: Professor Jane Rickson
      Job Title: Professor of Soil Erosion and Conservati
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Carbon, Climate Adaptation and Environmental Risk, Environmental Policy and Regulation, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Water Science and Engineering
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    • Name: Professor Karl Ritz
      Job Title: Professor of Soil Biology
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Agrifood
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    • Name: Dr Robert Simmons
      Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Soil Erosion & Conservation
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Mr Daniel Simms
      Job Title: Research Fellow in Remote Sensing & GIS
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Agrifood
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    • Name: Dr Andrew Thompson
      Job Title: Reader in Molecular Plant Science
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Carbon, Climate Adaptation and Environmental Risk, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Health, Food Quality, Agrifood
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    • Name: Professor Mark Tibbett
      Job Title: Professor of Soil Ecology
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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    • Name: Mr Ian Truckell
      Job Title: Spatial Systems Analyst
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Sustainable Land Systems, Carbon, Climate Adaptation and Environmental Risk, Energy and the Environment, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Agrifood
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    • Name: Dr Toby Waine
      Job Title: Lecturer in Applied Remote Sensing
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Additional Area, Agrifood, Instrumentation, Sensors and Measurement Science
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    • Name: Miss Joanna Zawadzka
      Job Title: Research Assistant in Pedometrics
      Areas of expertise:
      Environment, Carbon, Climate Adaptation and Environmental Risk, Monitoring and Environmental Informatics, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems
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  • Working with us

    Organisations of all sizes work with us. The primary mechanism is through bespoke consultancy and research projects, designed to suit particular objectives. We work with partners to understand their requirements and design appropriate projects. Recent projects have concerned land management efficiency, sustainable land use, land restoration and reclamation, environmental protection and geophysical logistical intelligence.

    We are particularly keen to provide our students with industrial links through private- and public-sector sponsorship of student projects. This has been a feature of Cranfield’s teaching for over 25 years. Such linkages benefit both the students, who gain real-world exposure, and sponsors, who have the opportunity to assess and train potential employees.

    We also provide continuing professional development (CPD) training courses, both in the UK and overseas, and practical training in the fundamentals and applications of soil science.

  • Current research projects

  • Current research opportunities

    We can arrange bespoke research projects for organisations of any size and on any timescale. We have worked with small and medium scale enterprises, as well as multinational corporations and individual researchers. Projects can be arranged as individual MSc or PhD projects, MSc group projects or through research contracts with NSRI academic and technical staff.   

  • Postgraduate degrees

    • Agricultural and Environment Engineering

      Cranfield University’s Agricultural and Environmental Engineering MSc by Research provides a multi-disciplinary approach to training in this developing sector.

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    • Environmental Informatics

      Environmental Informatics will teach key skills and techniques such as data mining, statistical interpretation, visualisation and predictive analytics for handling such ‘big data’.

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    • Geographical Information Management

      The course is an exciting combination of rigorous academic, technical and practical training. It provides a thorough training in technical, analytical and research skills needed for a career in this e

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    • Land Reclamation and Restoration

      The postgraduate level Land Reclamation and Restoration course integrates new scientific understanding of environmental processes with relevant engineering and management skills.

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    • PhD - School of Applied Sciences:

      Suitable for candidates wishing to combine the depth of a doctoral course with a broad foundation of knowledge and skills in your area of specialisation.

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  • Professional Development (CPD)

    • Aerial Photography and Digital Photogrammetry

      13 October - 17 October 2014

      This course introduces techniques for the extraction of topographic information from remotely sensed data using softcopy photogrammetry techniques.

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    • GIS Fundamentals

      27 October - 31 October 2014

      GIS is an important technology for handling geographic data and has wide application for studies of the environment. Learn functional components of a GIS during this short course at Cranfield.

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    • Soil Engineering, Contaminant and Nutrient Management

      24 November - 28 November 2014

      Soil Engineering, Contaminant and Nutrient Management course relating to soil tillage, traction and soil compaction.

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    • Flood Risk Management

      08 December - 12 December 2014

      Recent years have seen an apparent increase in flood events in UK and Europe. ‘Risk’ of flooding can be considered as the product of the probability of a flood occurring and consequences of flood.

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    • Flood Risk Management

      08 December - 12 December 2014

      Recent years have seen an apparent increase in flood events in UK and Europe. ‘Risk’ of flooding can be considered as the product of the probability of a flood occurring and consequences of flood.

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    • Advanced GIS

      12 January - 16 January 2015

      The Advanced GIS course will give emphasis to the role of Geographical Information Systems in modelling environmental systems and the programming tools available to develop applications.

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    • Spatial data and the internet

      09 February - 13 February 2015

      Introduction to spatial data and the internet

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  • Publications

    • Keay CA, Jones RJA, Hannam J & Barrie I (2014) The implications of a changing climate on agricultural land classification in England and Wales, The Journal of Agricultural Science, 152 (1) 23-37.

    • Al-Bakri JT, Duqqah M & Brewer TR (2013) Application of remote sensing and GIS for modeling and assessment of land use/cover change in Amman/Jordan, Journal of Geographic Information System, 5 (5) 509-519.

    • Magwaza LS, Ford HD, Cronje PJR, Opara UL, Landahl S, Tatam RP & Terry LA (2013) Application of optical coherence tomography to non-destructively characterise rind breakdown disorder of ‘Nules Clementine’ mandarins, Postharvest Biology and Technology, 84 16-21.

    • Jones A, Breuning-Madsen H, Brossard M, Dampha A, Deckers J, Dewitte O, Gallali T, Hallett S, Jones R, Kilasara M, Le Roux P, Micheli E, Montanarella L, Spaargaren O, Thiombiano L, Van Ranst E, Yemefack M & Zougmoré R (2013) Soil Atlas of Africa.

    • Fourie A, Tibbett M & Beersing A (2012) Mine Closure 2011. Volume 1: Mine Site Reclamation.

    • View all publications

  • Case studies and clients

    We work with governmental and non-governmental organisations, and private sector companies throughout the world, including:

    • Agricultural levy boards (eg. AHDB, HDC, HGCA, Potato Council)
    • Australian Research Council (ARC)
    • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
    • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
    • Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC)
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
    • Environment Agency
    • European Commission (eg. FP7; LIFE)
    • Farmers and growers and their associations
    • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
    • Gas, electricity and water companies
    • Joint Research Council (JRC)
    • National Assembly for Wales
    • Natural England
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
    • Resource sector companies
    • Supermarkets
    • United Nations (UN)
    • Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP).