Professor John Quinton


Research Overview

John is passionate about soil, the brown gold that underpins our very survival on the planet, but which most people take for granted.

He has spent the last 25 years working on understanding the soil erosion processes that degrade soil functions, how we can protect soils better and how soils can cause the pollution of surface waters.

Published research

His published work includes over 75 refereed journal papers (see link above), including one of the most cited papers on soil erosion describing the European Soil Erosion model (EUROSEM). More recent papers examine the global linkages between soil erosion and the cycling of nutrients and carbon.

Liking to maintain an applied element to his research, John has been working on solutions to soil and water protection. These include an investigation into the impact of soil management on soil and nutrient losses and the use of wetlands to trap sediment before it reaches surface waters. He has recently completed the Mitigation options for Phosphorus and Sediment project (MOPS2).

John has received funding for his work from:

  • the National Environmental Research Council (NERC),
  • the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • the European Community

Current research

John’s current research projects include

  • the NERC funded Long-term Large-scale (LTLS) project involving simulation and anaylsis of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics in the UK
  • the Defra funded Soil Erosion Monitoring pilot project.

He is Associate Director for Research at the Lancaster Environment Centre and, until recently, was the Director of its Envision Doctoral Training Partnership. The PhD students he supervises work on a range of topics related to soil functioning, diffuse pollution, soil tracing and soil degradation: his current research team includes students from the UK, Brazil, Malaysia and Iran.


John has acted as an evaluator for Defra and the European Commission and is currently:

  • executive editor of the European Geosciences Union’s Copernicus journal SOIL
  • science secretary of the European Geosciences Union's Soil System Sciences Division.
  • a review panel member for NERC


John's teaching includes:

Outside interests

When he is not working on Soil Science John likes to deploy soil through the medium of paint (most of the earth pigments are derived from soil!). His paintings draw inspiration from the natural environment, and particularly the woods and mountains close to Lancaster.

Related content

See John’s video on Soil Security:

Selected Publications

The impact of agricultural soil erosion on biogeochemical cycling
Quinton, J.N., Govers, G., Van Oost, K., Bardgett, R.D. 05/2010 In: Nature Geoscience. 3, 5, p. 311-314. 4 p.
Journal article

Keeping agricultural soil out of rivers: evidence of sediment and nutrient accumulation within field wetlands in the UK
Ockenden, M., Deasy, C., Quinton, J., Surridge, B., Stoate, C. 15/03/2014 In: Journal of Environmental Management. 135, p. 54-62. 19 p.
Journal article

Enhancing soluble phosphorus removal within buffer strips using industrial by-products
Habibiandehkordi, R., Quinton, J., Surridge, B. 11/2014 In: Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 21, 21, p. 12257-12269. 13 p.
Journal article

Measurement of flood peak effects as a result of soil and land management, with focus on experimental issues and scale
Deasy, C., Titman, A., Quinton, J. 01/2014 In: Journal of Environmental Management. 132, p. 304-312. 9 p.
Journal article

  • Improving global stewardship
  • Innovation for a better environment
  • Soil Plant and Land Systems
  • Sustainable Catchments
  • Understanding a changing planet