Seeds are planted into soil by hand

Soil, Plant & Land Systems

Group Leader

Nick Ostle

Soil Plant and Land Systems, Sustainable Catchments, Understanding a changing planet

Members

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Projects

Tackling Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Product Pollutants in the North-Western Himalayan Region of India
01/04/2021 → 31/07/2021
Research

Travel Grant - Limestone pavements
01/04/2021 → 31/07/2021
Research

"UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre For Mineral-based Construction Materials"
01/01/2021 → 31/12/2024
Research

CASE : ENVISION : British Geological Survey - Elizabeth Flint
01/10/2020 → 31/03/2024
Research

CASE : ENVISION : Wallacea Trust - Catherine Sheppard
01/10/2020 → 31/03/2024
Research

Science Hunters: Strategic Collaboration with Lancaster University
01/08/2020 → 31/07/2023
Research

COVID-19: Delivering Remote Outreach to Schools
15/06/2020 → 31/03/2021
Research

Detecting soil degradation and restoration through a novel coupled sensor and machine learning framework
31/01/2020 → 30/01/2023
Research

A comparative assessment of foliar traits and P fractions to fertilization in two tropical forests: understanding plant acclimation to P-limitation
02/01/2020 → 01/01/2022
Research

Investing in the future of science - assessing engagement with school-age children
01/11/2019 → 31/03/2020
Research

Revealing Long-Term Change in Vegetation Landscapes: The English Lake District and Beyond
01/11/2019 → 31/03/2022
Research

FACE underground: Can trees in mature forests gain greater access to soil nutrients
15/10/2019 → 14/12/2022
Research

ACTUATE : Accelerating the adoption of circular sanitation demonstration systems for improved health outcomes
01/10/2019 → 31/12/2021
Research

CASE: Envision: Low Carbon Ltd - Hollie Blaydes
01/10/2019 → 31/03/2023
Research

Can we reduce the use of single use plastics in food production?
01/10/2019 → 30/09/2023
Research

Elsevier Community Grant
01/09/2019 → 31/12/2019
Research

LOCKED UP: The role of biotic and abiotic interactions in the stabilisation and persistence of SOC
01/09/2019 → 31/08/2023
Research

Nitrogen Futures
22/08/2019 → 14/05/2020
Research

The Minecraft Periodic Table of Elements
10/06/2019 → 31/07/2020
Research

UK Energy Research Centre Phase 4 Call
01/05/2019 → 30/04/2024
Research

Intra- and interspecific leaf trait variation, decomposition processes and the ‘home-field advantage’ in European woodlands
08/04/2019 → 30/11/2020
Research

Restoring African degraded landscapes with plant biodiversity and livestock management
01/04/2019 → 31/03/2022
Research

Rurban Revolution: Can ruralising urban areas through greening and growing create a healthy, sustainable & resilient food system?
01/04/2019 → 31/10/2021
Research

Measuring carbon flows in mangrove ecosystems: importance and vulnerability
01/03/2019 → 31/01/2020
Research

N8: Mapping the expansion of soft rush (Juncus effusus) in grasslands
07/02/2019 → 31/10/2019
Research

DSI: Monitoring and predicting the effects of climate change on crop yields
01/02/2019 → 31/07/2020
Research

Science Hunters
01/02/2019 → 30/06/2019
Research

The language of nitrogen: Why is understanding of the environmental challenges caused by nitrogen from agriculture so low?
01/02/2019 → 31/08/2019
Research

Can ruralising urban areas through greening and growing create a healthy, sustainable & resilient food system?
01/01/2019 → 31/12/2021
Research

How does 25 years of low-level chronic warming and drought stress influence the resilience of soil communities after an extreme weather event
01/01/2019 → 31/12/2019
Research

Climate and science insights for Nestlé’s TCFD reporting process
01/12/2018 → 31/07/2020
Consultancy

ERRC EnergyREV
01/12/2018 → 01/03/2022
Research

GCRF Global IAA Institutional Award:RECIRCULATE impact event
01/12/2018 → 31/03/2019
Research

Preparatory action to Boost Global Crop Yield for Food & Nutrition Security and fueling a Bioeconomy
01/11/2018 → 01/05/2022
Research

ENVISION: Fracking magma: field and experimental investigation of hydrofracture in volcanic systems - Student: Holly Unwin
01/10/2018 → 31/03/2022
Research

Resistance by adaptation: Does evolution stabilise plant community structure and function under climate change?
10/09/2018 → 09/03/2022
Research

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

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

Assessing theImpact of Future Nitrogen Deposition and Warming on Methane and Nitrogen Cycling in Temperate Forests
31/03/2018 → 30/09/2021
Research

Carbon Cycling in Mangrove Ecosystems
16/03/2018 → 15/09/2021
Research

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

UK - Solar parks impacts on ecosystem services: implementation
01/01/2018 → 31/12/2019
Research

Q-NFM : Quantifying the likely magnitude of nature-based flood mitigation effects across large catchments
01/11/2017 → 31/07/2022
Research

CASE Studentship Agreement Matt Amos
01/10/2017 → 30/09/2020
Research

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

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

N8 : UK Soya Production for Economic Benefits
01/06/2017 → …
Research

The Water Towers of East Africa : Policies and Practices for enhancing co-enefits from joint forest and water conservation.
01/03/2017 → 31/12/2020
Research

Soil-Value: Valuing and enhancing soil infrastructure to improve societal sustainability and resilience
01/06/2016 → 31/05/2021
Research

Solar Park Impacts on Ecosystem services : a Framework for Best Practice (SPIES)
01/01/2016 → 30/06/2017
Research

Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functions and Policy Across a Tropical Forest Modification Gradient
01/04/2014 → 30/03/2019
Research

Ecosystem carbon and nutrient dynamics under global change
01/04/2014 → …
Research

Dual Land-Use for Solar Energy and Food Production
01/10/2013 → 30/09/2016
Research

LPIA: Developing collaborations to facilitate the optimal deployment of terrestrial solar farms
01/07/2013 → 30/06/2014
Research

Piloting a Cost-Effective Framework for Monitoring Soil Erosion in England and Wales
01/06/2013 → 31/05/2016
Research

Analysis and simulation of the long term/large scale interactions of C, N and P in UK land, freshwater and atmosphere
12/11/2012 → 11/11/2015
Research

U.K. Natural Environment Research Council–Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund studentship
01/10/2012 → …
Research

Presentation of the Survey Project Results
17/09/2012 → 30/09/2012
Research

Ecological Continuity Trust: Establishing a Consortium Application
05/09/2012 → 31/12/2013
Research

Implementing Component 2 of Demonstration Test Catchments
01/06/2012 → 30/09/2017
Research

Diversity in Upland Rivers for Ecosystem Service Sustainability - DURESS
01/05/2012 → 30/06/2016
Research

ECSG: The effect of direct and diffusion radiation on carbon cycling and plant productivity
01/05/2012 → 30/09/2014
Research

Establishing the impact of vegetation on DOC concentrations in the context of peatland management and the mechanisms responsible
20/03/2010 → 18/04/2010
Research

MOPS 2
01/04/2008 → 30/09/2013
Research

Research Activity

Our research is focused on the effects of global change and human activity on the form and function of terrestrial systems.

The Soil, Plant & Landscape Systems Group consists of leading academics and researchers working across disciplines, and internationally, to address uncertainties regarding the impacts of environmental change on natural and managed ecosystems. We work with, and train, UK and international students and researchers to improve knowledge, skills, outcomes and impact.

Research Questions

Specific research questions include - How resilient are plant-soil systems to climate change? What are the ecosystem impacts of land use change? How can soils help our ambition for a circular nutrient economy? Will global soils sequester climate mitigating carbon? How can we communicate our science effectively? How to make agricultural systems more sustainable? How do we protect ecosystems from degradation and pollution? How do we balance agricultural production and environmental quality? How does urbanisation effect plant-soil ecosystems? How can we manage renewable energies to co-benefit ecosystem services? What controls greenhouse gas emissions from tropical wetlands, tropical and sub-tropical forests? Can we restore damaged ecosystems?

The Bowland Fells

Our Approach

Our research is truly global with projects and partners in the UK, Africa, Asia, South America, North America and Europe. We use state-of-the-art technologies in the field and laboratory such as the Soils and Ecosystem Ecology Research Laboratory within Lancaster Environment Centre, and those of our partners in the Centre For Ecology and Hydrology and around the world. We innovate with novel large scale and international field experiments. We measure, model and predict the impacts of change on ecosystem functions. Our well-resourced laboratories are fully equipped with instrumentation for plant-soil and ecosystem biogeochemical, hydrological, microbial and ecological research.

One of the laboratories in the Environment Centre

Collaborations and Funding

Beyond Europe we have strong collaborative links-partnerships and ongoing research in:

  • Panama (STRI)
  • Brazil (UFLA)
  • Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda (CIFOR)
  • Peru (University of Huancayo)
  • Ghana (LU Ghana and CSIR)
  • Nigeria (University of Benin, CGE Nigeria, National Commission of Energy and Environment)
  • Malaysia (Forest Research)
  • China (SCAU, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  • The Argentine National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET)

Our research is funded by

  • UKRI
  • NERC
  • BBSRC
  • EPSRC
  • EU
  • Royal Society
  • DEFRA
  • BEIS
  • Leverhulme
  • GCRF
  • IFAD
  • German Science Foundation

We work in collaboration with stakeholders within the UK and overseas to deliver changes in policy and practice, including SMEs, big businesses, NGOs, and Government.

Research Highlights

Further Highlights

Forest grazing and flood risk
Grazing animals within forests counteract the effectiveness of trees to reduce flood risk a new study shows.

Coffee power
A Lancaster University student’s masters’ dissertation offers new commercial possibilities for turning waste coffee grounds into biofuel.

Prizewinning PhD researcher
A football themed presentation into how long arable soils will last in the UK wins an early career researcher a top prize from the British Society of Soil Science.

Businesses must do more to take action on soil, Lancaster sustainability expert argues in latest edition of Nature
Companies are unaware of the huge risks they face from soil degradation.

Taking dung beetles to Glastonbury
Sex & Bugs & Rock ’n Roll wins researcher a British Ecological Society public engagement prize.

Soil security fellow
Mountaineering researcher wins a prestigious fellowship to study how a changing climate could affect the role of mountains as global carbon sinks.

A systems approach to farming
Agronomist models farming systems to explore how they can help fulfil the world’s competing environmental, food security and social goals.