Land comprises a range of natural resources including soil and water that are under increasing demands from a growing human population. To avoid degradation, these natural assets require careful management.

To protect and conserve these resources we need to be better informed on land use capability and be able to assess land suitability for particular land use and resource management options. Benefits can be achieved through better land management, leading to a more sustainable environment that is resilient in the face of changing land use, climate change and extreme weather events.

Our aim is to improve the scientific understanding and practical management of land resources such as soil, water, minerals and plants, in order to maximise the delivery of ecosystems, goods and services from the land. This will bring economic, social and environmental benefits, whilst maintaining or enhancing the value of the land’s natural capital.

About our research

Our diverse range of research capabilities enable us to deliver excellent pure and applied science in agriculture, land engineering and the natural environment. This enables us to develop new scientific theories, founded on fundamental mechanisms. We then develop our theoretical understanding into practical applications.

Our laboratory and field-based research is carried out at different spatial and temporal scales, ranging from soil aggregate breakdown through to large scale land use monitoring using satellite imagery. We use empirical evidence and predictive modelling tools to explore the consequences of different land management scenarios.

We place a strong emphasis on the applied application of our science and because of this we have developed strong working relationships with a range of organisations, both commercial and non-profit making, including government, multinationals, independent enterprises, NGOs and conservation groups.

Our relationships with these clients enable us to understand and respond to their needs. Importantly we have many years experience in technical and financial project management. We deliver quality outputs, with due regard to agreed milestones, budgets and specifications (client expectations), so that the project aims and objectives can be met to time and to budget.

Our facilities

• LandIS, the ‘Land Information System’, a substantial environmental information system designed to contain soil and soil-related information for England and Wales
• Soil Analytical Laboratory
Soil Management Facility that enables controlled testing of soil resource management options
• Surveying, remote sensing and GIS technical support
WOSSAC, the ‘World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue’, which contains soil information from around the world.

Working with us

We work with organisations of all sizes both in the UK and internationally, and can respond to the need for rapid initial investigative work as well as provide long-term experimental programmes. We have a proven track record in leading or participating in large multi-partner consortia, as well as working directly with individual clients on a 'one-to-one' basis

Businesses can work with us through bespoke consultancy or research projects. First, we would discuss the clients requirements (project aims and objectives, budgets, timescales), followed by delivery of a detailed proposal for the sponsor's approval. Our administrative, contractual and financial teams will offer support and guidance throughout this process. If necessary and appropriate, we can advise on possible additional funding sources to support the research.

Our clients can also sponsor student research, which can range from eight week group projects, three month MSc theses, one year MRes research projects or three year full-time (six year part-time) PhD projects. In this way, the sponsor has an opportunity to assess and train potential employees, as well as benefit from the work being undertaken.

We are adept at providing knowledge transfer through a range of media including peer-reviewed journals, trade literature, web pages, radio and television interviews, workshops and conferences. We also recognise that some projects require confidentiality, which we can provide through secure IT services and restricted access testing facilities. Whilst the majority of our research output is in the public domain, clients may wish to negotiate restricted access to project outcomes.

Clients and partners

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

• Agricultural levy boards (eg. Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), Horticultural Development Company (HDC), HGCA - the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Potato Council)
• Alcoa of Australia
• Australian Research Council (ARC)
• Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
• Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
• Department of Energy and 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
• EU 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).