Professor Ian Dodd

Professor of Sustainable Agriculture

Research Interests

As an Australian, Ian is used to droughts, and regularly applies them to plants “in his care”, to understand the fundamental mechanisms by which plant root systems communicate the effects of drought (and other soil stresses) to the shoot. This research aims to improve crop water use efficiency (“crop per drop”) to guarantee food production within a changing climate. This work has been extensively applied both within the UK and internationally, with current projects on agricultural water management funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund ( ) and the European Union ( ).

Ian’s primary responsibility in the department is being Director of Study of the

Food Security (Distance Learning) MSc

Published research

His published work includes over 100 refereed journal papers (see link below), many of which have sought to understand the effects of irrigation volume, frequency and placement on plant physiological responses and crop yields. This includes work on “partial rootzone drying” and “alternate wetting and drying” irrigation techniques. The impacts of the above-ground environment (specifically changes in evaporative demand and light quality) on crop water use has occupied recent attention. He has also collaborated with other LEC scientists to investigate how various soil management practices (eg. soil amendments, tillage) affect plant water availability.

Previous EU FP7 projects include:

  • DROPS: Drought tolerant yielding plants ( )
  • ROOTOPOWER: Empowering root-targeted strategies to minimize abiotic stress impacts on horticultural crops ( )
  • SIRRIMED: Sustainable use of irrigation water in the Mediterranean region ( )
  • WATBIO: Development of improved perennial non-food biomass and bioproduct crops for water stressed environments ( )

Additional funding sources include the

  • Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • British Council
  • Newton Fund
  • Royal Society

Current research

The PhD students he supervises work on a range of topics including root physiology and phenotyping, rootzone CO2 enrichment and various soil amendments (including alternative liming agents, plant growth promoting rhizobacteria and surfactants). His laboratory regularly receives overseas visitors, especially from drier parts of the world (than UK) such as Spain, Italy, Turkey and China.


Ian is currently:

  • handling editor for the Journal of Experimental Botany and Plant and Soil
  • Member of the Plant Sector Group of the Technology Strategy Board


Ian’s teaching includes:

  • an undergraduate course on Sustainable Agriculture as part of the LEC BSc degree schemes in Ecology & Conservation Biology
  • postgraduate courses on Agriculture, Climate Change & Food Security and Sustainable Soils Management within the M Sc Environmental Management

Outside interests

When not engaged in academic duties, Ian can be found at the Bowerham Lawn Tennis Club (but not studying the surface)

Bean Breeding for Adaptation to a Changing Climate and Post-Conflict Colombia
01/04/2019 → 31/03/2021

Field-based phytohormone phenotyping to select climate resilient cereal varieties
15/02/2019 → 14/02/2020

Soil Hydrology research platform underpinning innovation to manage water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems
01/09/2018 → 31/08/2022

Physiological characterization of heat-tolerant bean genotypes in simulated future environments to enhance post-conflict regional development
01/04/2018 → 31/03/2019

Rutherford Fund Strategic Partner Grant 2018
01/04/2018 → 31/03/2019

Complementary laboratory and field phenotyping to extend the future agro-climatic range of soybean
29/01/2018 → 31/01/2020

RECIRCULATE : GCRF: Driving eco-innovation in Africa:capacity-building for a safe circular water economy
01/10/2017 → 31/12/2021

RECIRCULATE : GCRF: Driving eco-innovation in Africa:capacity-building for a safe circular water economy
01/10/2017 → 31/12/2021

Field Evaluation of Rhizobacterial Inoculants for Enhancing Lettuce Production
01/08/2013 → 31/03/2014

FP7: WATBIO Development of improved perennial non food biomass and bioproduct crops for water stress
01/11/2012 → 31/10/2017

Sub Project 2.3: Improving Spike Fertility and Plant Development by Modifying Its Sensitivity to Environmental Cues
01/11/2012 → 31/10/2013

Intensifying Cut Salad Production With A Novel Vertical Growing System (TSB)
01/04/2012 → 30/09/2012

FP7: ROOTOPOWER: Empowering root targeted strategies to minimize abiotic stress impacts on horticultural crops
01/01/2012 → 31/12/2015

Detection and amelioration of rootzone ethylene production in protected crops
01/10/2011 → 31/12/2014

ICA:Cement Kiln Dust
01/10/2010 → 30/06/2014

01/07/2010 → 31/03/2014

Increasing crop yield and resource use efficiency via root-zone CO2 enrichment
01/01/1900 → …

  • Centre for Global Eco-innovation
  • Improving global stewardship
  • Plant and Crop Science