Professor Jessica DaviesProfessor of Sustainability
My research focuses on sustainable soils, land and food systems across natural, agricultural and urban landscapes. Drawing on my background in control system engineering and environmental modelling, I work at the interface between environmental sciences, engineering and business to develop science-based strategy and practices that drive sustainable transitions.
I am an Early Career EPSRC Living With Environmental Change Fellow. In this major strand of my research, I develop models that help us understand and predict change in plant, soil and water systems. I am keen to explore how we can borrow concepts and techniques from engineering and data sciences to advance these capabilities. Beyond the science, I am engaged in exploring how these models can be help us make sustainable decisions: can they help us make land management choices, manage risk, inform natural capital accounting or motivate investment in nature?
Currently, my research focuses around four active research projects which I lead spanning land and soils, food systems and business sustainability and resilience:
1. Soil-Value: Valuing and enhancing soil infrastructure to improve societal sustainability and resilience
Funded by EPSRC Early Career Living With Environmental Change Fellowship, 2016-2021
This 5-year fellowship focuses on advancing our understanding of soils as a critical infrastructure that supports our societies: providing us with food, filtering and buffering flows of water, and regulating the carbon cycle. We need to better understand the value of this infrastructure to society and its resilience to changing management and climate.
As part of this project, I have been seconded to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to help build business engagement with soils, creating the business case for soil and finding new ways for companies to invest in this natural infrastructure that supports their business. As a result, I am lead editor of this collaborative report that brought together over 20 global businesses, NGOs and IOs on the business case for investing in soils.
2. Rurban Revolution: Can ruralising urban areas through greening and growing create a healthy, sustainable and resilient food system?
Funded by the Global Food Security Programme, BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and Scottish Government, 2019-2021
I am Principal Investigator of this 2-year research project working in collaboration with colleagues in the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster, the University of Liverpool and Cranfield University. In this research we are building an integrated evidence base on the potential of ruralisation in urban areas through greening and horticultural growing – or “rurbanisation” - as a transformative solution for a healthy, resilient and sustainable food system. We are exploring how rurbanisation influences:
- Health and wellbeing by changing access and consumption of fruit and vegetables and reducing stress,
- Food production in terms of quantity, quality and safety and the resilience of the UK food system, and
- Ecosystem service delivery inside and outside cities?
3. CROPBOOSTER-P: Preparatory action to Boost Global Crop Yield for Food & Nutrition Security and fueling a Bioeconomy
Funded by Horizon 2020 (H2020-EU.126.96.36.199., H2020-EU.188.8.131.52.), 2018-2021
I am a Work Package leader on this project coordinated by Wageningen Research, which aims to identify priorities and opportunities for adapting and boosting crop productivity, nutritional quality and sustainability. In our WP we will assess the economic, social and environmental implications of the crop and farming technologies on the horizon to help steer future research and action.
4. Soil Natural Capital valuation needs for agri-food businesses
Funded by NERC as part of the Valuing Nature Programme, 2018
Soils are a key natural asset in agri-food supply chains. Yet their valuation is often overlooked as few ecosystems services flow directly from soils to goods, or human benefits. This synthesis report considered what a natural capital approach to soil could offer businesses, existing approaches, and key gaps to implementing this in practice.
I lead the Lancaster Environment Centre Sustainability Group: a diverse team of researchers and non-academic staff who are working together to enhance the environmental sustainability of the department and its community of staff, students and partners. If you’re interested in getting involved, please get in touch.
I teach on a variety of undergraduate modules across LEC and Organisation Work & Technology in LUMS and supervise undergraduate and masters dissertation students.
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Nutrient Management Expert Group member.
The Nutrient Management Expert Group will independently review and analyse existing policy, alongside up-to-date technical and scientific evidence on fertilisers and nutrient management. It will consider the multiple challenges surrounding nutrient management and develop recommendations on the optimal policy approaches to minimise nitrogen-based and other pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from fertiliser use. The Group will engage with industry representatives and other key stakeholders to ensure its recommendations have practical merit.
The business case for soil
Davies, J. 16/03/2017 In: Nature. 543, 7645, p. 309-311. 3 p.
On the evaluation of soil erosion models: Are we doing enough?
Batista, P.V., Davies, J., Silva, M.L., Quinton, J.N. 1/10/2019 In: Earth-Science Reviews. 197, 17 p.
Measured estimates of semi-natural terrestrial NPP in Great Britain: comparison with modelled values, and dependence on atmospheric nitrogen deposition
Tipping, E., Davies, J.A., Henrys, P.A., Jarvis, S.G., Rowe, E.C., Smart, S.M., Le Duc, M.G., Marrs, R.H., Pakeman, R.J. 30/07/2019 In: Biogeochemistry. 144, 2, p. 215-227. 13 p.
Long-term increases in soil carbon due to ecosystem fertilization by atmospheric nitrogen deposition demonstrated by regional-scale modelling and observations
Tipping, E.W., Davies, J., Henrys, P.A., Kirk, G.J.D., Lilly, A., Dragosits, U., Carnell, E.J., Dore, A.J., Sutton, M.A., Tomlinson, S.J. 15/05/2017 In: Scientific Reports. 7, 11 p.
Long-term P weathering and recent N deposition control contemporary plant-soil C, N, and P
Davies, J.A.C., Tipping, E., Rowe, E.C., Boyle, J.F., Graf Pannatier, E., Martinsen, V. 20/02/2016 In: Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 30, 2, p. 231-249. 19 p.
150 years of macronutrient change in unfertilized UK ecosystems: observations vs simulations
Davies, J., Tipping, E., Whitmore, A. 1/12/2016 In: Science of the Total Environment. 572, p. 1485-1495. 11 p.
Integrated modeling of flow and residence times at the catchment scale with multiple interacting pathways
Davies, J., Beven, K., Rodhe, A., Nyberg, L., Bishop, K. 5/08/2013 In: Water Resources Research. 49, 8, p. 4738-4750. 13 p.
Comparison of a Multiple Interacting Pathways model with a classical kinematic wave subsurface flow solution
Davies, J., Beven, K. 2012 In: Hydrological Sciences Journal. 57, 2, p. 203-216. 14 p.
A discrete particle representation of hillslope hydrology: hypothesis testing in reproducing a tracer experiment at Gardsjon, Sweden
Davies, J., Beven, K., Nyberg, L., Rodhe, A. 15/11/2011 In: Hydrological Processes. 25, 23, p. 3602-3612. 11 p.
Rurban Revolution: Can ruralising urban areas through greening and growing create a healthy, sustainable & resilient food system?
01/04/2019 → 31/03/2021
DSI: Monitoring and predicting the effects of climate change on crop yields
01/02/2019 → 31/07/2020
Can ruralising urban areas through greening and growing create a healthy, sustainable & resilient food system?
01/01/2019 → 31/12/2021
Soil-Value: Valuing and enhancing soil infrastructure to improve societal sustainability and resilience
01/06/2016 → 31/05/2021
- Centre of Excellence in Environmental Data Science
- Improving global stewardship
- Soil Plant and Land Systems
- Sustainable Catchments
- Understanding a changing planet