Measuring changes in soils at national scales is challenging because of large spatial heterogeneities, the importance of multiple processes, and the slow pace of change. This research aims to support soil monitoring programmes at national scales with mathematical modelling based as far as possible on underlying processes.

At a glance


We have had a series of projects linked to the findings of the National Soil Inventory. These have been particularly concerned with widespread carbon losses from soils across England and Wales, mainly due to changes in land use and management but also linked to climate change; and increases in soil pH linked to decreased atmospheric acid deposition. We have developed and applied various mathematical models to understand the observed changes.


Smith L.G., Jones P.J., Kirk, G.J.D., Pearce B.D. & Williams A.G. (2018) Modelling the production impacts of a widespread conversion to organic agriculture in England and Wales. Land Use Policy, 10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.02.035.

Tipping E., Davies J.A.C., Henrys P., Kirk G.J.D., Lilly A., Dragosits U., Carnell E., Dore A., Sutton, M.A. & Tomlinson S. (2017) Long-term increases in soil carbon due to ecosystem fertilization by atmospheric nitrogen deposition demonstrated by regional-scale modelling and observations. Sci. Rep., 7, 1890, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02002-w.

Kirk G.J.D. (2016) Climate change: Carbon losses in the Alps. Nature Geosci., 9, 478–479. doi:10.1038/ngeo2747.

Gregory A.S., Kirk G.J.D., Keay C.A., Rawlins B.G., Wallace P. & Whitmore A. (2014) An assessment of the status and dynamics of subsoil organic carbon in England and Wales. Soil Use Manage., 30, 10–22. doi: 10.1111/sum.12085.

Guenet B., Moyano F.E., Vuichard N., Kirk G.J.D., Bellamy P.H., Zaehle S. & Ciais P. (2013) Can we model observed soil carbon changes from a dense inventory? A case study over England and Wales using three versions of ORCHIDEE ecosystem model (AR5, AR5-PRIM and O-CN). Geosci. Model Dev. 6, 21532163. doi:10.5194/gmd-6-2153-2013

Foereid B., Bellamy P.B., Holden A. & Kirk G.J.D. (2012) On the initialization of soil carbon models and its effects on model predictions for England and Wales. Eur. J. Soil Sci., 63, 32–41.

Kirk G.J.D. & Bellamy P.H. (2010) Analysis of changes in organic carbon in mineral soils across England and Wales using a simple single-pool model. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 61, 406–411.

Kirk G.J.D., Bellamy P.B. & Lark R.M. (2010) Changes in soil pH across England and Wales in response to decreased acid deposition. Glob. Change Biol. 16, 31113119.

Corstanje R., Kirk G.J.D., Pawlett M., Read R. & Lark R.M. (2008) Spatial variation of ammonia volatilization from soil and its scale dependent correlation with soil properties. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 59, 12601270.

Corstanje R., Kirk G.J.D. & Lark R.M. (2008) The behaviour of soil process models of ammonia volatilization at contrasting spatial scales. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 59, 12711283.

Lark R.M., Bellamy P.H. & Kirk, G.J.D. (2006) Baseline values and change in the soil, and implications for monitoring. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 57, 916921.

Bellamy P.H., Loveland P.J., Bradley R.I., Lark R.M. & Kirk G.J.D. (2005) Carbon losses from all soils across England and Wales 1978–2003. Nature 437, 245–248.