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.

Supporting your business

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 links benefit both the students, who gain real-world exposure, and sponsors, who have the opportunity to assess and train potential employees.

Our facilities and resources

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.

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. Read more about available studentships.

Collaboration 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).