Cranfield University logoCranfield University

Professor Karl Ritz

Professor Karl Ritz

Professor of Soil Biology
Environmental Science and Technology Department
School of Applied Sciences
E: k.ritz@cranfield.ac.uk
T: +44 (0) 1234 758064


Areas of expertise

Environment, Soil Resources, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Agri-food Systems

Current Activities

His research interests focus on developing a mechanistic understanding of the origins and functional consequences of the compositional and spatial organisation of soil microbial communities. This work underpins the development of frameworks for understanding factors that regulate the activity of soil communities, systems to manage the biota appropriately, and incisive procedures for assessing and monitoring soil health. 
One of his key concepts is that of ‘soil architecture’, and his work on visualising soil systems, both literally and conceptually, has revealed many new insights into how life below ground is organised, and the functional consequences of this for the earth system.
Specific research areas include: 
  • Characterisation and quantification of the soil biota factors which govern the structure and function of soil microbial communities 
  • Functional consequences of soil microbial diversity 
  • Quantification of the spatial organisation of soil communities and processes at multiple scales 
  • Soil structure:biota interactions 
  • Biological indicators of soil health 
Recent and current projects include: 
  • Improving yield through management of soil organisms under cropping 
  • Improvement of soil structure and yield by means of soil organic matter 
  • Soil surface matters: Microbial controls upon hydraulic behaviour at the soil surface 
  • Fundamental basis of soil biological resilience 
  • Establishment and implementation of a company-scale soil information system 
  • Effects of climate change on soil biota 
  • Studies to support the Soil Strategy for England
  • Background

    • Professor Ritz graduated in Agricultural Botany from the University of Reading in 1981, and completed a PhD in grassland ecology at the University of Bristol in 1984. He then spent three years at the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research, studying microbial involvement in nutrient cycling in arable systems. He subsequently ran a diverse range of soil systems research at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, becoming Head of the Soil Plant Dynamics Group in 2000. 

     

    • He has travelled widely carrying out research, teaching and consultancy in many countries. He was Visiting Professor of Soil Microbiology at the University of Kyoto in 1997-98 and Distinguished Teaching Fellow at the University of Western Australia in 2007. Karl took up his current Chair at Cranfield University in 2002. 

     

    • Professor Ritz is a long-standing Chief Editor of the top-ranking journal, Soil Biology Biochemistry and has held editorial roles with FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Mycological Research and the Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition. He has edited several books including 'Beyond the Biomass', 'Criminal and Environmental Soil Forensics', and most recently 'Architecture and Biology of Soils'. 

     

    • He is also Academic Lead for the Environment Doctoral Training Centre at Cranfield

  • Clients

    • BBSRC
    • NERC
    • EPSRC
    • DEFRA
    • Home Grown Cereals Authority 
    • Technology Strategy Board 
    • Environment Agency 
    • European Union 
    • Waitrose 
    • Produce World

  • Publications

    Massey PA, Creamer RE, Schulte RPO, Whelan MJ & Ritz K (2013) The effects of earthworms, botanical diversity and fertiliser type on the vertical distribution of soil nutrients and plant nutrient acquisition, Biology and Fertility of Soils, 49 (8) 1189-1201.

    Moynihan EL, Richards KG, Ritz K, Tyrrel SF & Brennan FP (2013) Impact of soil type, biology and temperature on the survival of non-toxigenic Escherichia coli O157, Biology and Environment-Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 113B 1-6.

    Pawlett M, Ritz K, Dorey RA, Rocks S, Ramsden J & Harris JA (2013) The impact of zero-valent iron nanoparticles upon soil microbial communities is context dependent, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20 (2) 1041-1049.

    Pawlett M, Ritz K, Dorey RA, Rocks S, Ramsden J & Harris JA (2013) The impact of Zero-valent Iron Nanoparticles upon Soil Microbial Communities is Context Dependent, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20 (2) 1041-1049.

    Philippot L, Ritz K, Pandard P, Hallin S & Martin-Laurent F (2012) Standardisation of methods in soil microbiology: progress and challenges, 82 (1) 1-10.

    Wall DH, Bardgett RD, Behan-Pelletier VM, Herrick JE, Jones TH, Ritz K, Six J, Strong DR & Van der Putten WH (2012) Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services.

    Sakrabani R, Deeks LK, Kibblewhite MG & Ritz K (2012) Impacts of Agriculture on Soil Quality. In: Environmental Impacts of Modern Agriculture. Hester RE, Harrison RM (ed.), London: Royal Society of Chemistry, p. 35-56.

    Ritz K & Van Der Putten WH (2012) The living soil and ecosystem services: Introduction and synthesis.. In: Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services. Wall DH, Bardgett RD, Behan-Pelletier VM, Herrick JE, Jones TH, Ritz K, Six J, Strong DR, Van der Putten WH (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 1-2-86-87.

    Crawford JW, Deacon L, Grinev D, Harris JA, Ritz K, Singh BK & Young IM (2012) Microbial diversity affects self-organisation of the soil-microbe system with consequences for function, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 9 (71) 1302-1310.

    Crawford JW, Deacon L, Grinev D, Harris JA, Ritz K, Singh BK & Young I (2012) Microbial diversity affects self-organization of the soil-microbe system with consequences for function, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 9 (71) 1302-1310.

    View all publications


Research Projects