Contact Professor Tim Hess

Areas of expertise

  • Managing Corporate Sustainability
  • Water Science and Engineering


Professor Hess has a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Agricultural Engineering (Land Resource Management) and joined Cranfield University (Silsoe) as a Research Officer in 1981. In the early 1990s he represented Cranfield as Resident Scientist with the Centre for Arid Zone Studies, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. During this time he completed his PhD on “The impact of climatic variability over the period 1961-1990 on the soil water balance of upland soils in the North East Arid Zone of Nigeria”.

Current activities

Tim is Professor of Water and Food Systems within the School of Water, Energy and Environment. He has over 35 years’ experience in research and consultancy in the application of hydrology in managed rural environments, and particularly irrigated agriculture in the UK and overseas. This has been applied to sustainable food supply chains, working with national and international organisations and major UK retailers. He is an interdisciplinary scientist with a particular interest in the application of ecosystem services approaches to water management issues. 

  •     British Hydrological Society National Committee (2013 - 2016) & S.E. Region Committee (2003 - 2015).
  •     Former Executive Council member of UK Irrigation Association.
  •     Expert group member for UK Water Research and Innovation Partnership.
  •     Committee member on ISO/TC 207/SC 5/WG 8 (Water Footprinting) and British Standards Institution mirror group.
  •     Co-Chair of International Life Sciences Institute (Europe) Environment and Health Task Force and Chair of expert group on Water Footprinting.
  •     Contributing author to National Ecosystem Services Assessment (NEA)
  •     Presently Co-I on three RC funded projects; “Fragments, functions and flows - the scaling of biodiversity and ecosystem services in urban ecosystems” (NERC); “Mitigating climate change impacts on India agriculture through improved irrigation water management” (NERC); “Establishment of a strategic training hub for the advancement of the UK agri-food industry” (BBSRC).


  • Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (Potato Council, DairyCo, Eblex)
  • Environmental regulators, including Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency 
  • European Union – DGEnvironment 
  • Irish Food Board (Bord Bia) 
  • UK government departments, including Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for International Development (DFID) 
  • UK Water Industry Research 
  • Water Research Foundation 
  • WWF 
  • Food and drink businesses, including Unilever, Coca Cola, Innocent 
  • Major retailers including Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Tesco


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers

  • Celmi G, Momblanch A, Hess T, Fyffe CL, Potter E, Orr A, Drenkhan F, Walker-Crawford N, Loarte E, Bustamante MG & Pellicciotti F (2021) No-regret adaptation to climate change through management of glacial lakes in the Santa River Basin in Peru. In: EGU General Assembly, 2021, Virtual Event, 19-30 April 2021.
  • Morris J, Hess TM, Posthumus H, Trawick P, Neville D, Phillips E & Wysoki M (2008) Impacts of the summer 2007 floods in rural England: rural flood proofing - Cinderella or suitable case for treatment?. In: Defra Flood and Coastal Management Conference 2008, Manchester, 1 July 2008.
  • Hess Tim M & Counsell Chris (2008) A water balance simulation model for teaching and learning – WaSim.
  • Posthumus H, Morris J, Hess TM, Trawick P, Neville D, Phillips E & Wysoki M (2008) Impacts of the summer 2007 floods on agriculture in England. In: FloodRisk2008, Oxford, 30 September 2008.
  • Posthumus H, Rouquette J, Morris J, Hess TM, Gowing DJ & Dawson QL (2008) Integrated land and water management in floodplains in England. In: FloodRisk2008, Oxford, 30 September 2008.
  • Morris J, Hess TM, Gill A, Howsam P & White SM (2004) The Water Framework Directive and Flood Management. In: DEFRA 2004 39th Flood Catchment Management Conference, London, 1 January 2004.
  • Lopez-Moreno I, Hess TM & White SM (2003) Estimation of reference evapotranspiration in the upper Aragon River Basin, with Penman-Monteith equation using easily available meteorological data. In: EGS - AGU - EUG Joint Assembly, Nice, France, 1 July 2003.
  • Morris J, Hess TM, Gowing D, Leeds-Harrison PB, Bannister N, Vivash RMN & Wade M (2003) Integrated washland management for flood defence and biodiversity. In: 38th Defrs Flood & Coastal Management Conference, 1 July 2003.
  • Gadoury S & Hess TM (2002) Improved irrigation scheduling for spring wheat grown under centre pivot irrigation in Zambia's sandy soil. In: 18th ICID Congress, Montreal, Canada, 28 July 2002, Montreal, Canada, 28 July 2002.
  • Hess TM & Knox JW (2002) Irrigation advisory services: experiences in the UK. In: Paper presented at 'Irrigation advisory services and participatory extension in irrigation management'. Workshop FAO/ICID. 24 July 2002. Montreal, Canada, 1 July 2002.
  • Knox JW, Weatherhead EK & Hess TM (2001) Integrating spatial data, GIS and a computer model to improve the management and planning of water resources for irrigated agriculture in England and Wales. In: International workshop on geo-spatial knowledge processing for natural resources management, Varese, Italy, 28 June 2001.
  • Hess TM (1996) A comparison between evapotranspiration calculated from an automatic weather station and conventional weather data - implications for irrigation scheduling in the UK. In: Proceedings International Conference on Evapotranspiration and Irrigation Scheduling, ASAE/Irrigation Association/ICID., USA, 1 July 1996.
  • Hess TM, Leeds-Harrison PB & Morris J (1989) The evaluation of river maintenance in agricultural areas. In: V.A. Dodd & P.M. Grace, eds. Land & Water Use: proceedings of 11th International Conference on Agricultural Engineering, Ireland, 1 July 1989.
  • Hess TM & Morris J (1988) A model for the economic evaluation of flood alleviation in agricultural areas. In: Proceedings of 15th European conference on agricultural water management, Dubrovnik. Session on economic aspects of flood control & non-structural measures, 1 July 1988.
  • Hess TM (1988) Computer Aided Irrigation Scheduling. In: S.W.R. Cox, ed. Proceedings of the Jubilee Conference of the Institution of Agrilcultural Engineering. Butterworths, UK, 1 July 1988.
  • Morris J, Black DE & Hess TM (1987) Farmer uptake of drainage benefits: a regional study. In: Presented to MAFF conference of River and Coastal Engineers,, Loughborough, UK, 1 July 1987.
  • Morris J & Hess TM (1986) Evaluating farmer response to land drainage improvement. In: Presented to International Conference on Hydraulic Design in Water Resources Eng: Land drainage: Session V. Economics. University of Southampton, UK, 1 July 1986.
  • Morris J & Hess TM (1985) A computer model for agricultural land drainage scheme appraisal. In: Paper presented to Cranfield Conference of River Engineers, 1 July 1985.
  • Hess TM & Morris J Drainage benefits and farmer uptake. In: Paper to MAFF Annual Conference of River Engineers. Cranfield. July, UK.