Rhizosphere by design: breeding to select root traits that physically manipulate soil

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Inst of Biological and Environmental Sci

Abstract

The idea that plants have differing abilities to engineer soil to make them more stable and productive is not new. Some of the more dramatic evidence comes from environmental disasters like the Great Dust Bowl, where the transition from prairie grasses to monoculture maize led directly to devastating soil erosion. Roots act like reinforcing rods in soil and exude compounds that aggregate soils, increase water storage and help release nutrients. Roots can also have hair-like structures on their surface that increase how far they penetrate and therefore interact with soils. The ability of a plant to engineer soil therefore has significant benefits to their own productivity.
Modern plant biotechnology research has identified large variations in the hairiness and exudation of populations of crops that have nearly identical genetic makeup. For plant breeders these findings are exciting, as they suggest an ability to select crops for root traits that will have a large impact on soils. By engineering the soil at the root surface, the crop takes up more nutrients, and the transport and storage of water and gases to the crop is also enhanced. This means that crops will be able to capture and store nutrients more efficiently, as well as produce an environment more resilient to weather induced stresses, such as drought or water-logging. In the search for crops to address food security challenges, this untapped potential in improving the physical manipulation of soils by root traits offers considerable potential.
This project will explore how various root traits change the physical properties of soil to improve the efficiency with which crops can capture water and nutrients. The ultimate outputs will be data and numerical models that will help plant breeders identify optimal root traits for more sustainable agricultural production. We start by collecting root exudates from a range of crops and adding them back to different soils at specific concentrations. Physical testing of the exudates and of exudate:soil mixes will provide new information on how roots may change water dynamics and mechanical stability of soils. This information is used to adapt models from medical biology and soil mechanics to begin to describe how soils form at the interface with plant roots. Next we move to tests with plants grown in soil. We will measure how different root traits (hairiness and exudation) change water dynamics (storage, transport and hydrophobicity) using small scale probes, and extract soils to measure how its mechanical properties are affected. X-Ray imaging will measure how the soil structure changes as roots grow and soils wet and dry. Along the length of the root the effects are different due to age. Root hairs grow, die and then degrade, so we will measure changes in the mechanical and hydrological behaviour at the root-soil interface from the base of the stem to root tips to get information need to understand whole root systems. Finally we take crops to maturity in the glasshouse and field. This links into an HGCA project on soil management where we use plots that have been under different forms of soil cultivation for over 10 years. As an increasing proportion of arable farmers switch to reduced input tillage systems, the field resource lets us explore how the root traits respond under traditional conditions used for plant breeding (ploughing to 20 cm) versus much shallower cultivation. This takes our initial laboratory research into the field, allowing verification of numerical models developed in the project. We will hence explore how soils are manipulated by plants at the root-soil interface and the impact of specific root traits for improving resource capture . Plant breeders will be able to use this information to identify favourable root traits to target in the search for more sustainable crop varieties. We will also improve the understanding of the structure of soil forms and influences carbon and water dynamics.

Technical Summary

Plant breeding can manipulate root structure, root hair length and exudation properties to physically engineer rhizosphere soil. Little quantitative understanding of the underlying processes exists, so this project will use advanced approaches from engineering science to disentangle the biophysical mechanisms that drive rhizosphere formation. The availability of near isogenic barley and maize lines with differences in root hair length and exudation provides a novel biological resource for this research. Our team is uniquely placed internationally to conduct this research. We were the first to image root hairs in intact soil, allowing modelling of their role in P acquisition. Others in our team found that root hairs aggregate soil at the interface of roots, and the impact increases in less dense soils with lower P. This could help release P and have positive impacts on rhizopshere structure that affects carbon sequestration by roots, but neither study examined the mechanisms in the soil or impacts on water dynamics.

In this project we will isolate and characterise the compounds produced by plant roots that affect surface tension and viscosity at the soil-root interface. The compounds will then be added to soil at a range of concentrations so that the impact on mechanical and hydrological properties can be measured. Using the novel maize and barley lines, we will vary root hair density, length and exudation to examine how these properties influence soil physical properties in rhizosphere samples. In addition, we will measure how the rhizosphere soil physical properties change with age and under different nutrient and physical stresses in glasshouse and field experiments. Non-invasive imaging methods will be used to validate the models and demonstrate how plants progressively change the structure of soil around their roots. The modelling and data generated on rhizosphere formation will identify root trait ideotypes for resource capture and soil sustainability.

Planned Impact

Three strands of research, each lead by separate institutions, are brought together in this proposal: (1) root trait isolation and functioning; (2) rhizosphere biophysical formation; and (3) imaging/numerical modelling of rhizosphere formation and transport properties. By bringing together pioneering research from different areas, the project will have rapid scientific impact, with applications relevant to industry and policy. Crop mapping populations screened for root traits enable our research, which will allow future forward genetics by plant scientists to develop better varieties. Rhizosphere science has an excellent resource of microbiology studies, with our project able to access the vast amount of information already collected to achieve our ultimate goal, a numerical model that can identify ideal root trait ideotypes for sustainable agriculture. By understanding the basic processes of how the rhizosphere forms and functions, we deliver generic approaches that can be applied to investigate future crop traits that allow for decreased resource input, greater abiotic stress tolerance, better water use efficiency, more carbon capture through soil particle aggregation and the physical stabilisation/structural regeneration of soils caused by the action of crop roots. There is a dearth of process based understanding in this area, with much past research focussed on qualitative techniques. The numerical models we develop on rhizosphere formation and functioning can also be applied to understanding soil structure away from the plant, so relevant to the larger-scale functioning of terrestrial ecosystems in terms of hydrology, erosion and gas exchange.

Our non-invasive imaging research is world-leading, including recent measurements of root:root hair:soil structure interactions that enabled numerical modelling of phosphorus uptake. Thresholding and image processing algorithms that will be developed by the imaging PDRA are essential to develop this research further, and are applicable to the surge of new plant and soil science research brought about by inexpensive non-invasive imaging technologies. We involve imaging specialists in the project team to ensure the rapid and effective implementation of state-of-the-art techniques.

The plant science industry is challenged with providing farmers with more resource efficient crop varieties. At the farm gate this makes economic sense, but it is also driven by government policies such as GAEC (CAP reforms) and soil protection framework directives. Internationally we address food security, tackling the issue by understanding both plant and soil processes. Soil management practices are changing as a result of policies and socioeconomic factors on farm. By examining root trait performance under different tillage practices, we tackle the challenge of producing varieties suitable for specific environmental conditions. At present, the phenotypic plasticity of root traits is not well understood. Existing elite crop varieties have been predominantly selected in highly loosened and fertilised seedbeds that do not reflect modern on-farm conditions. Our research therefore also delivers to the agricultural engineering industry producing new forms of soil cultivation equipment, who are faced with reticence from the farming community because of perceptions about poorer crop performance. Farmers may just be selecting the wrong crop varieties.

As the rhizosphere is so important to food security and soil sustainability, it deserves greater public awareness. A starting point in this project is engagement through the Aberdeen Biodiversity Centre, who through their own Natural History Museum and links to other museums, provides the skills and contacts for public education. Our root trait lines provide a teaching resource for students to explore rhizosphere formation directly. The graphical output from our imaging research provides visual tools that will capture public interest.

Publications

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Cooper LJ (2018) The effect of root exudates on rhizosphere water dynamics. in Proceedings. Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Cooper LJ (2018) The effect of root exudates on rhizosphere water dynamics. in Proceedings. Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Cooper LJ (2017) Fluid flow in porous media using image-based modelling to parametrize Richards' equation. in Proceedings. Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Cooper LJ (2017) Fluid flow in porous media using image-based modelling to parametrize Richards' equation. in Proceedings. Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Daly K (2017) Modelling water dynamics in the rhizosphere in Rhizosphere

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Daly KR (2016) Image-based modelling of nutrient movement in and around the rhizosphere. in Journal of experimental botany

 
Description We have been exploring how traits of plant roots influence surrounding soil, thereby affecting how well plants can capture water and nutrients from soil and change soil pore structure. Using a range of model barley and maize genotypes we have been managed to show a strong impact of root hairs on soil structure development. This has been observed at micron scale through the use of synchrotron imaging, up to field scale in a controlled experiment. Advances in modelling have allowed us to combine 3D images obtained by Xray CT or the Synchrotron with physical data obtain using a new suite of tests, so that the effects of roots, root hairs and root exudates on resource capture by plants can be understood far better. We are still working on the project, supplementing the many findings with more data from the field, and a field based model. We will also explore whether root age has an impact on the physical properties of soil at the root-soil interface.

A major finding was that different plant species use massively different mechanisms to manipulate soils. By measuring basic hydromechanical properties of soil using a suite of techniques adopted from materials science we have shown that maize acts a 'builder' that produces root exudates that gel soil and hold onto water. Barley is a 'miner' that produces root exudates that disperse soil particles and allow for easier water capture by dropping soil water surface tension. After the roots excrete these exudates, microbes alter them over time to produce exopolysaccharides that bind and aggregate soil, resulting in the formation and stabilisation of the rhizosphere.
Exploitation Route New techniques have been published, which several groups have already adopted. We have an ultimate goal of providing information to plant breeders to identify root ideotypes that can alter and exploit soil most effectively to enhance yield and soil physical stability.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description The research is providing new information of benefit to plant breeders and farming groups who sit on the advisory panel. Laboratory and field tests have explored how research and commercial barley genotypes with varying root traits interact with soil physical structure. We benefited from a field experiment running the extremely dry 2018 summer where root hair effects were exacerbated, demonstrating their benefit in capturing nutrients and tolerating abiotic stresses. A field scale model has been developed that can explore the benefits of different root traits in terms of phosphorus capture in a range of environmental conditions. An industry meeting is planned for early 2020 when we will disseminate information and work with industry to further their efforts to develop crop lines with root traits that can improve resource capture, stress resistance and yield.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Description UK Parliament - Environmental Audit Committee, Soil Health Enquiry
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Diamond Light Synchrotron Session
Amount £700 (GBP)
Funding ID MT12525 (Hallett) Visualising the movement of plant roots and the impact on soils 
Organisation Diamond Light Source 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2016 
End 11/2016
 
Description Royal Society International Exchange Programme - China
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2019
 
Title Microscale mechanical and hydrological test methods to measure rhizosphere properties 
Description A small scale indenter method was developed to measure micro mechanics and the root-soil interface. This was complemented by a small-scale infiltrometer to measure hydrological properties. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Capability to quantify mechanical and hydrological properties at rhizosphere scale. Will be used for research upcoming in the project. 
URL https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/vzj/abstracts/17/1/170083?noSSO=1
 
Description AHDB Soil Structure and Management Projects. 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution HGCA and Potato Council have funded research projects examining soil structural condition in relation to soil management practices and the impacts on crop performance. Data from these projects helped informed the development of the BBSRC SARISA project, with field experiments being used to complete WP4 of the BBSRC project. Data collected on soil water retention and penetration resistance are used directly as well.
Collaborator Contribution Paul Hallett (U. Aberdeen ) and Tim George (James Hutton Institute) are both involved in the AHDB projects.
Impact Large amount of KE to the farming industry. Scientific publications currently in preparation but the study requires multiple years of data for robust analysis.
Start Year 2012
 
Description AHDB Soil Structure and Management Projects. 
Organisation National Institute Of Agricultural Botany
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution HGCA and Potato Council have funded research projects examining soil structural condition in relation to soil management practices and the impacts on crop performance. Data from these projects helped informed the development of the BBSRC SARISA project, with field experiments being used to complete WP4 of the BBSRC project. Data collected on soil water retention and penetration resistance are used directly as well.
Collaborator Contribution Paul Hallett (U. Aberdeen ) and Tim George (James Hutton Institute) are both involved in the AHDB projects.
Impact Large amount of KE to the farming industry. Scientific publications currently in preparation but the study requires multiple years of data for robust analysis.
Start Year 2012
 
Description CREW Soil Structure and Drainage Study 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This is broad scale project examining soil structure across Scottish agricultural fields. It provides information on the state of soils and constraints that may be experienced by plant roots. The surface degradation of the soils is relevant to understanding ecoengineering options as per the EPSRC project. It also informs on the structural condition of soils for agriculture.
Collaborator Contribution Paul Hallett is PI on this CREW project. The data will be used to inform the NERC CZO, BBSRC SARISA and EPSRC Slopes projects.
Impact This work trained catchment managers in identifying soil structure and drainage problems on farms. The data informed public policy on soil degradation and flood impacts during winter months. Given the very wet 2015/2016 winter that resulted in widespread flooding, the results are very relevant to environmental sustainability.
Start Year 2014
 
Description China Scholarship Council - Visiting Researcher - Dr Chaobo Zhang 
Organisation Taiyuan University of Technology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution 1 year visit to the University of Aberdeen. Research is exploring the mechanical reinforcement of soils by plant roots, focussing on the impact of mucilage on root-soil interface properties and pull-out mechanics. Work bridges ongoing research in BBSRC Rhizosphere by Design project and EPSRC Rooting for Sustainable Performance. We are providing mechanical testing equipment and discussing experimental approaches. Treatments are informed from our RCUK research.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Zhang conducts research on vegetation reinforcement of slopes in China.
Impact We anticipate two publications from this work.
Start Year 2016
 
Description China Scholarship Council - Visiting Researcher - Dr Dr Jing Jiang 
Organisation Taiyuan University of Technology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research on nitrogen transport and capture in mechanically impeded soil as affected by root growth. We are exploring the capacity of roots to penetrate compacted layers and using Dr Jiang's expertise in solute transport to explore N movement. Research builds in numerous ongoing RCUK projects.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Jiang brings expertise in solute transport.
Impact None yet. We anticipate 2 publications from this work and possible direct contribution by Dr Jiang on other publications from the group.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Contribution of Root Hairs, Mycorrhizae and Bacteria to Organic P Use by Crops 
Organisation China Agricultural University (CAU)
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provide plant genetic materials and experimental know-how developed in existing projects
Collaborator Contribution The CAU partners bring expertise in stable-isotope probing methods to isolate the impact of root exudates on specific rhizosphere microbes.
Impact One paper published and several in development.
Start Year 2017
 
Description EPSRC Project EP/M019713/1 - Rooting for sustainable performance 
Organisation University of Dundee
Department Department of Civil Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This EPSRC project explores combined hydrological and mechanical impacts of plant roots on soil slope stability. It involves all PIs from the BBSRC grant and operates at a larger scale than Rhizosphere by Design. Dr Glyn Bengough is the lead PI on the project and had the greatest input to proposal writing and conception, with Paul Hallett (Aberdeen) and Tiina Roose (Southampton) providing input.
Collaborator Contribution This is a new project that commenced in Autumn 2015. Dr Glyn Bengough is the lead PI on the project and had the greatest input to proposal writing and conception, with Paul Hallett (Aberdeen) and Tiina Roose (Southampton) providing input.
Impact Multidisciplinary project between civil engineering, soil science, plant biophysics and noninvasive imaging.
Start Year 2015
 
Description EPSRC Project EP/M019713/1 - Rooting for sustainable performance 
Organisation University of Southampton
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This EPSRC project explores combined hydrological and mechanical impacts of plant roots on soil slope stability. It involves all PIs from the BBSRC grant and operates at a larger scale than Rhizosphere by Design. Dr Glyn Bengough is the lead PI on the project and had the greatest input to proposal writing and conception, with Paul Hallett (Aberdeen) and Tiina Roose (Southampton) providing input.
Collaborator Contribution This is a new project that commenced in Autumn 2015. Dr Glyn Bengough is the lead PI on the project and had the greatest input to proposal writing and conception, with Paul Hallett (Aberdeen) and Tiina Roose (Southampton) providing input.
Impact Multidisciplinary project between civil engineering, soil science, plant biophysics and noninvasive imaging.
Start Year 2015
 
Description NERC CZO Project 
Organisation University of York
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution NERC CZO project examines critical zone processes for red soils in China. The work is related to the BBSRC SARISA project research on resource capture, although the CZO project focusses on biogeochemical cycling influenced by plants and biological processes that affect soil pore structure development.
Collaborator Contribution Contribution by project PI Paul Hallett only.
Impact Nil to date. Only just started.
Start Year 2016
 
Description PhD Student - Post-tillage soil structural evolution and pore space dynamics 
Organisation Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-supervisor of PhD student - "Post-tillage soil structural evolution and pore space dynamics" Expertise on soil mechanics and structure dynamics.
Collaborator Contribution Prof. Thomas Keller is the lead supervisor of this project.
Impact Student training. Multidisciplinary between soil physics, imaging and agronomy.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Aberdeen University Students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A university of Aberdeen class "Soil Science for Food Security" visited the institute and I organised a set of talks and presented research highlights to the group
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Agricultural diversification in the Highlands of Borneo 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented work on roots for sustainability at the workshop in Sarawak
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Chew it over 1 - The Crunch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The event took the form of a dramatised dialogue theatre, which used an innovative format combining verbatim theatre and dialogue, to encourage conversations about food, health and the planet. The event centred around Look Left Look Right's new play 'What we talk about, when we talk about food.' The play explores food from all angles, from examining how we make consumer choices to the cultural significance of food and it makes us who we are. The conversations and discussions following this were documented in a report, that The Crunch will share with researchers and policymakers, to help inform future decisions on our food.
My role in the event to present current facts on food security and the food chain. Following break out groups I was then grilled in "Question Time" style questions from the audience on issues that had been raised during the day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://thecrunch.wellcome.ac.uk/get-involved/chew-it-over
 
Description Chew it over 2 - The Crunch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The event took the form of a dramatised dialogue theatre, which used an innovative format combining verbatim theatre and dialogue, to encourage conversations about food, health and the planet. The event centred around a brand new play based around opinions gathered from the previous workshop. The conversations and discussions following this were documented in a report, that The Crunch will share with researchers and policymakers, to help inform future decisions on our food.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://thecrunch.wellcome.ac.uk/get-involved/chew-it-over
 
Description Conference Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Gave Talk ""Understanding the Rhizosheath: Opportunities for Manipulating the Soil Root Interface" at the Plant Biology Europe Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, approximately 500 people attended the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Demonstration of 'The Phosphorus Game' at the Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, Scotland June 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'The Phosphorus Game' was developed as an educational tool for school-age students and the general public. The game format follows a board-game style with character cards which personify common soil elements (e.g., 'Sticky Soil Sally', 'Enzo the Enzyme', 'Wally Water') and are selected by players to determine how far their P moves on the board. The first player to get their phosphorus 'P' game-piece to the plant root wins. The game was well-received by very young (4-10) and adult participants at the Royal Highland Show, which receives thousands of visitors each day.

This was conducted by Dr Tim George and Dr Lawrie Brown who are subcontractors at the James Hutton Institute.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description EGU 2017 - Physical engineering of rhizosphere by plant exudates varies with species, origin and microbial decomposition by Muhammad Naveed et al. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk in Session SSS4.5/BG9.57/CL2.12 - Plant-soil-microbial interactions under global change (co-organized), room -2.47 on Thursday, 27 Apr 2017, 16:00:
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description EGU2017- Make the rhizosphere great again: microbes build walls in soil that roots pay for by Paul Hallett et al. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact PICO presentation in session SSS4.16 - Unravelling soil-biota interactions using micro-scale analyses:
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Ecosystems and Land Use Stakeholders Engagement Group Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A stakeholder event for Scottish Government Policy Makers was held in Edinburgh to brief on the latest advances in root biology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description From Paved Roads to Green Fields by Muhammad Naveed 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog article on the SSP website describing Muhammad Naveed's PDRA position.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.soilsecurity.org/from-paved-fields-to-green-fields-by-muhammad-naveed/
 
Description Genotypic variation in the formation of rhizosheath and implications for rhizosphere processes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented research at a workshop on Rhizosheath in Lancaster
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Highlights of Research presented to BBRO (British Beet Research Organisation) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presented research highlights including those from the OPUS project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description International Society of Root Research Medal Lecture 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The ISRR2017 medal lecture invites an eminent scientist who explores root-soil interactions to Dundee to present a lecture, preceded by talks and poster sessions by predominantly early career researchers. This year the invited speaker was Prof Michelle Watt from Juelich.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.hutton.ac.uk/events/root-rhizosphere-workshop-and-2017-isrr-dundee-medal-lecture-root-res...
 
Description Invited seminar to ETH Zurich 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Prof Paul Hallett provided a talk on how soil structure interacts with plants. This drew on both agronomic and engineering applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description James Hutton Institute Theme Review 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented research as part of a visiting group review of the institutes themes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Joint Workshop between James Hutton Instiute, CEH and CAAS Beijing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop was designed to foster collaborative research between researchers at the three institutes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description May Festival - University of Aberdeen, International Year of Soils and Rhizosphere Display 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact May Festival is an annual event held by the University of Aberdeen. It showcases various activities around the university, with the Zoology Museum, Aberdeen Biodiversity Centre and Cruickshank Botanic Gardens providing a combined display each year. For International Year of Soils and our BBSRC SARISA project we included a display on the importance of soil and how plants and soil interact to produce food. The audience varied from toddlers to professionals who have experience in the topic. We included a water pistol display so that young children (and adults) could be engaged in learning about roots preventing soil erosion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.abdn.ac.uk/mayfestival/
 
Description NERC Planet Earth Article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Article in the NERC Planet Earth magazine, written by journalist Julia Horton. This covered a range of projects conducted by University of Aberdeen scientists on tropical agriculture. The work draws on both our direct research in tropical countries and strategic research on plant-soil interactions, so it cuts across P. Hallett's funding portfolio.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/planetearth/stories/1879/
 
Description NERC UnEarthed 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact NERC UnEarthed was a large event that attracted over 3000 people. There were two days dedicated to school visits and 2 days when there was free entry to the general public. During our free interactive showcase - UnEarthed - at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh (17-19 November), families and adults could explore the tools used to make science happen and see the extraordinary work of our scientists. Our exhibit focussed on a range of research projects in tropical ecosystems, specifically on the impacts of agriculture and strategies that could be taken to minimize environmental impacts. The text we used to attract visitors was: Emerging from a Scottish forest you stumble across an orangutan in her nest, with drone footage of her natural habitat. What can this have to do with Scotland? Your food choices affect her habitat, other tropical regions, and the livelihoods of local people. A grocery basket will show you how much of what you eat is tropical. Guess the water used and greenhouse gases emitted producing this food, and then measure it yourself with a gas meter and carbon calculator.

Our research is finding solutions to make this food more sustainable and to protect the livelihoods of people living in vulnerable tropical regions. The most important tropical food is rice. You will see how rice can be selected to grow better with less water by reaching deeper soil with its roots. The other major solution is improving tropical soils. By adding carbon, we will show how they can be restored. Our man dressed as an orangutan was a highlight with kids.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.nerc.ac.uk/latest/events/archive/unearthed/
 
Description New crops and cropping systems for a more sustainable future 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented a seminar at a workshop on New Crops for Agricultural Sustainability at Crops For the Future in Malaysia
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Platforms to test and demonstrate sustainable soil management: integration of major UK field experiments. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact An article was written and distributed by the AHDB Newsletter and Website to highlight the impact of soil tillage on the soil physical, biological and chemical characteristics and impact on root growth.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation to International Barley Hub 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Gave talk at the International Balrey Hub aways days in Birnam, UK "Rhizosphere by Design: Understanding and manipulating the barley rhizosphere"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation to Irish Fertiliser Industry Representatives 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presented highlights of research to a group of fertiliser industry representatives from Ireland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation to ZeiJiang Academy of Agricultural Science China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented highlights of research to a group of scientific academics from ZAAS China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation to ZeiJiang Academy of Agricultural Science China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented highlights of research to a group of scientific academics from ZAAS China. Dr Tim George, James Hutton Institute.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation to delegates from Qassim University, Saudi Arabia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Tim George, JHI Subcontractor, presented highlights of SARISA project to representatives of Qassim University, Saudi Arabia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation to delegates from Qassim University, Saudi Arabia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented highlights of OPUS project to representatives of Qassim University, Saudi Arabia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Project launch news article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release published on University of Aberdeen website described the BBSRC SARISA project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/6874/
 
Description SSCR Cereals Annual Winter Meeting Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presented research at a meeting aimed at informing Scottish farmers of developments in cereals research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description SSCR Cereals Annual Winter Meeting Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Tim George, JHI, presented research at a meeting aimed at informing Scottish farmers of developments in cereals research. This included the early results/preliminary findings of the SARISA project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Seminar at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Tim George, JHI subcontractor, invited to present a seminar including research highlights from the SARISA project at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Seminar at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to present a seminar including research highlights from the OPUS project at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description UK Brazil Workshop - Managing the rhizosphere to alleviate food poverty 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Maximising crop production and alleviating food poverty is a major 21st century global challenge for emerging countries such as Brazil. Optimising the efficiency of crop nutrient supply and reducing dependence on expensive inorganic fertilizers are key goals towards developing a more sustainable agriculture that will benefit poorer communities. The workshop will explore the potential for agro-engineering of the soil rhizosphere to meet these goals through adaptations of soil-crop-microbial interactions. The purpose of the workshop is to develop a co-operative research framework for Brazil and UK young scientists to come together to forge new understanding and capacity building in rhizosphere science to support sustainable and profitable food production, product innovation and poverty alleviation. The workshop will also provide opportunity to interface with industry and policy stakeholders in Brazil.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.britishcouncil.org.br/events/newton-fund-researcher-links-workshop-withers
 
Description University of Florida Delegates 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented research highlights to a group of visitors from the University of Florida, USA, who were scoping out the opportunities for collaboration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016