U-GRASS: Understanding and enhancing soil ecosystem services and resilience in UK grass and croplands

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Soils and Land Use (Wallingford)

Abstract

Humans are exerting increasing pressure on the Earth's soils to produce food crops and provide us with other natural resources. With growing populations and possible climate change it is important that we protect our soils so that they can continue to deliver these essential resources. Soils also provide many other "services" which benefit us; such as greenhouse gas regulation, nutrient cycling, and controlling the flows and quality of our waters. Unfortunately our knowledge and ability to predict how these services are affected with changes in land use and climate is limited. Many different soils are found globally in different environments, making it hard to predict responses over large scales. Soil, and therefore soil services is made through the activities of a wide variety of soil organisms, but they are traditionally hard to study and so we also know little about how this biological diversity acts to provide us with soil and wider services. New ways to study soil organisms are now revealing more information on the types of organisms which live in different soils around globally, and a key challenge is to learn how these organisms act to sustain soils and soil functions, and how these interactions are affected by climate and the way we manage our land.
This project seeks to address these issues by building on recent global-scale research and knowledge regarding the different organisms found in soil. Essentially we now know more about which organisms are found in different soils, and we now seek to examine whether this knowledge can help explain the different responses of our soils to land use and climate change. We will do this firstly using a survey approach, examining the effects of land use change on soil biodiversity, soil properties, and soil services in different soil systems around the UK. We will then take these soils and subject them to climate change to examine whether we can predict the changes in soil services based on the changes we observe in biodiversity. These data will provide fundamental knowledge on how different soils and their biodiversity and functions respond to change in land use and climate.
A second aim of our research is to examine the specific ways in which soil biodiversity regulates soil and its services. This "mechanistic" understanding could provide us with new ways to manage the land to deliver more sustainable soil stocks, giving us food, fibre and a healthy environment well into the future. Firstly we will examine how soil nutrient inputs affect the soil biota's activities in cycling carbon. This is important as soil organisms are primarily fed by nutrients from plants, but they can also respire carbon back to the atmosphere as CO2, and can also feed off existing organic matter decreasing soil carbon stocks. How soil biodiversity, land use and climate affect the balance of these processes is a large unknown in soil research and can have important consequences for our ability to predict future response of soils to change. We also seek to examine how the biodiversity itself drives these processes. Often in field studies we find differences in soil communities and processes, but the soil physical and chemical conditions also differ, so we can't determine if it is the environment or the biodiversity that is responsible for the difference in process rates. By manipulating soil diversity but maintaining a constant environment we can address these issues, and importantly validate approaches for enhancing soil biodiversity with new management practices to deliver soil security in field scenarios.
All of our research will be integrated using computer modelling approaches which will attempt to predict soil processes under different soil, management, and climatic scenarios. A major challenge is to see whether the incorporation of biodiversity parameters in these models will help predict responses over large landscape scales.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries and level of engagement:
1. Farmers and the wider agricultural sector. The agricultural sector faces the challenge of how to increase agricultural production to enhance food security while at the same time reducing environmental impacts. A primary goal of this project is to understand how land management in different environmental contexts affects potential trade-offs between multiple soil services; and also assess the degree to which management intervention in can modify trade-offs. All project partners we have good contacts with these stakeholders and throughout the project we will engage landowners and practitioners particularly in the field sampling in WP1. An information leaflet will be made to disseminate the aims of the project.
2. Retailers and agri-enterprises. e.g. Cotswold seeds. New commercial enterprises are developing products aimed at enhancing above ground services but their effects on soil sustainability are unknown. Various agri-food industry bodies will be involved as stakeholders though partner contacts, evidenced by formal project support of Syngenta, but we will also build on existing links existing links with Unilever, Tesco, Waitrose and PepsiCo.
3. The water industry and other businesses with interests in environmental sustainability. Eutrophication is a major issue in the UK, and flood prevention is an emerging challenge particularly in the UK, particularly in the large populated areas amongst agriculturally productive lands. Efforts to increase soil organic matter in such landscapes could prevent run off.
3. Environmental NGOs. Conservation practices leading to better service delivery above ground have unexplored consequences on biodiversity and soil services below ground.
4. Government agencies and policy-makers related to agriculture and ecosystem services (e.g. Natural England, Environment Agency, Environment Agency, Defra,). We have formal support from Government agencies, including Natural England, who will be involved from the outset of the project in our project committee to ensure that the project delivers results that can be integrated well into farm advice, agri-environment schemes, SSSI management. The role of PS as Science Director of ClimateXChange will ensure that project findings are disseminated in Scotland.
5. Academics and other research communities e.g. international and national programs such as the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative and Earth Microbiome Project; academic societies, the wider NERC Soil Security Programme, Other NERC -BBSRC research programmes such as NERC -BESS and Macronutrient Cycles programmes, and BBSRC SFS-SARISSA (Rothamsted partners). Additionally we will disseminate project information and findings to UK Scientific initiatives such as the UK Soil Observatory (http://www.ukso.org/)
Specific academic beneficiaries are listed in the appropriate section on the JE-S form, and they will be informed of outputs in the form of a website, publications (open source where possible) and conference attendance. A project website, twitter feeds and press releases will be used to inform all beneficiaries (including the public) on the outputs from the project. The website will include short video recordings including explanations of our work, results and future applications. Key presentations and electronic outputs from workshops will be uploaded to slideshare and embededed on the project site. The CEH communications team will help to identify soil-related forward feature articles relating to these soil issues in relevant science and trade press (e.g NERC's Planet Earth, Farmers Weekly, and agricultural Journals such as John Deere's "The Furrow").
 
Description Land use intensification effects on soil organic matter, microbial diversity and function was assessed at a range of field sites across the UK. The survey examined paired land use contrasts at a range of working farms, long term experiments and sites under conservation management. Landowners were asked to identify fields representing gradients of management intensity at each site, and typically included contrasts of arable versus grassland, or intensively managed versus extensively managed grasslands.

Across all sites, with the exception of long term N addition experiments, intensification reduced soil organic matter concentration in the upper 15cm of soil. This was accompanied by loss of soil microbial biomass and activity irrespective of site location, the degree of impact being highly related to impact on soil OM. In general intensification also increased soil pH and reduced soil moisture content.

Change in microbial biodiversity and functionality however was largely site specific, and therefore influenced by the local climatic and geological factors which determine native soil development as well as the contrasting land managements imposed by land owners.

The project developed and deployed a range on novel microbial assays relevant to determining change in soil functionality, including molecular assays of diversity and function; enzymatic assays and isotopic assays of microbial carbon use efficiency. It is assumed these new assays will bring about a better mechanistic understanding of how management change affect soils differently in different places. Our results confirm this, since changes in key taxa, genes and functions in response to intensification were different across soil landscape gradients, in contrast to consistent losses of C and broad activity. However consistencies were noted in the response of these metrics amongst similar management contrasts on similar soils (Malik et al, Nature Communications 2018). Similarly we have also generated novel metrics on suites of microbial taxa which respond differently to intensification across soil gradients and are working on a novel molecular portal to disseminate this information. This will likely be of use to the academic research community in building synthesis of which taxa and functions change in response to management across global soils. Additionally there is the potential to develop context specific indicators of management change of interest to both industry (eg agronomists) and in the policy arena with respect to identifying relevant indicator taxa.
Exploitation Route Developing suites of microbial indicators to monitor efficacy of soil restoration/conservation management.

Highlights the importance of considering soil geography within the arena of determining impacts of "land use intensification"
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

URL https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05980-1
 
Description Worked with Agronomists (AGRII) to demonstrate effectiveness of novel crop management. A one day workshop (25/2/2018) organised by Griffiths/Pywell was held to present and explain the results of our molecular analyses of their on farm trials. We are now working with them to produce a case study for reporting in an agronomic magazine (read by farmers).
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Griffiths RI. Invited Participant: Soil Security Programme - Evidence Review Reading Workshop: University of Reading
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact In 2014, Defra in conjunction with NERC and BBSRC, commissioned a review of soil research to meet policy needs. Griffiths attended a meeting compising a variety of stakeholders (farmers, scientists, policy makers) to discuss and workshop the key findings of the review.
 
Description LOCKED UP: The role of biotic and abiotic interactions in the stabilisation and persistence of soil organic carbon
Amount £690,033 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S005137/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 02/2023
 
Description Lancaster Environment School
Amount £90,000 (GBP)
Organisation Lancaster University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 10/2020
 
Description NEC06096 Developing a trait-based framework for predicting soil microbial community response to extreme events
Amount £120,219 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/P011551/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 04/2021
 
Title Online portal for soil microbiome exploration 
Description We have developed a bioinformatic portal for molecular identification of soil bacterial taxa. Uniquely, this portal not only provides information on taxonomic identity, but also provides key information on the ecological attributes of the taxa (eg soil-habitat preferences). We are in the processes of adding further information on the degree to which identified taxa are affected by land use, utilising both national scale data ( GB Countryside Survey) and results from the UGRASS field survey. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact No impacts yet - we have not yet finished manuscript publicising tool 
URL https://shiny-apps.ceh.ac.uk/ID-TaxER/
 
Title Molecular biodiversity of UK soils 
Description In 2007 >1000 soils were sampled as part of the UK Countryside Survey. This year we have used new amplicon sequencing approaches to assess the biodiversity of bacter, fungi and other eukaryotes within these samples. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Improved understanding of soil microbial distributions and land use effects on biodiversity 
 
Description CEH Montpellier Ecotron collaboration 
Organisation National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS)
Department Institute of Ecology and Environment
PI Contribution Assessment of enzyme activities and molecular diversity
Collaborator Contribution Controlled environment facility experiment manipulating above and belowground diversity and measurement of multiple soil ecosystem services
Impact None yet
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with range of land-owners for NERC U-GRASS project 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We are working with these partner organisations, accessing land for research activity and taking soil samples. Data produced from our analyses will be available to individual partners and we will be collaborating with them further as the research project progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us identify appropriate field sites for our research project, they are providing detailed management of history of land which they own and manage and are facilitating access for sampling and analysis.
Impact We have identified and sampled 9 field locations and collected soil samples for future experimental work.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with range of land-owners for NERC U-GRASS project 
Organisation Myerscough College
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are working with these partner organisations, accessing land for research activity and taking soil samples. Data produced from our analyses will be available to individual partners and we will be collaborating with them further as the research project progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us identify appropriate field sites for our research project, they are providing detailed management of history of land which they own and manage and are facilitating access for sampling and analysis.
Impact We have identified and sampled 9 field locations and collected soil samples for future experimental work.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with range of land-owners for NERC U-GRASS project 
Organisation Natural England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We are working with these partner organisations, accessing land for research activity and taking soil samples. Data produced from our analyses will be available to individual partners and we will be collaborating with them further as the research project progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us identify appropriate field sites for our research project, they are providing detailed management of history of land which they own and manage and are facilitating access for sampling and analysis.
Impact We have identified and sampled 9 field locations and collected soil samples for future experimental work.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with range of land-owners for NERC U-GRASS project 
Organisation Rothamsted Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are working with these partner organisations, accessing land for research activity and taking soil samples. Data produced from our analyses will be available to individual partners and we will be collaborating with them further as the research project progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us identify appropriate field sites for our research project, they are providing detailed management of history of land which they own and manage and are facilitating access for sampling and analysis.
Impact We have identified and sampled 9 field locations and collected soil samples for future experimental work.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with range of land-owners for NERC U-GRASS project 
Organisation Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are working with these partner organisations, accessing land for research activity and taking soil samples. Data produced from our analyses will be available to individual partners and we will be collaborating with them further as the research project progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us identify appropriate field sites for our research project, they are providing detailed management of history of land which they own and manage and are facilitating access for sampling and analysis.
Impact We have identified and sampled 9 field locations and collected soil samples for future experimental work.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with range of land-owners for NERC U-GRASS project 
Organisation Scotland's Rural College
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are working with these partner organisations, accessing land for research activity and taking soil samples. Data produced from our analyses will be available to individual partners and we will be collaborating with them further as the research project progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us identify appropriate field sites for our research project, they are providing detailed management of history of land which they own and manage and are facilitating access for sampling and analysis.
Impact We have identified and sampled 9 field locations and collected soil samples for future experimental work.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with range of land-owners for NERC U-GRASS project 
Organisation University of Wales
Department Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are working with these partner organisations, accessing land for research activity and taking soil samples. Data produced from our analyses will be available to individual partners and we will be collaborating with them further as the research project progresses.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us identify appropriate field sites for our research project, they are providing detailed management of history of land which they own and manage and are facilitating access for sampling and analysis.
Impact We have identified and sampled 9 field locations and collected soil samples for future experimental work.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Continued engagement with a range of landowners 
Organisation Earth Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project has sampled a network of ~30 sites to provide novel information of how land management (intensive, extensive, and intervention) affects soil biodiversity and function. Key landowner stakeholders include Natural England, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and other charities (Chimney Meadows, Kingcombe centre, Devon Wildlife Trust, Earthtrust). Following sampling we have continued engagement through updating landowners with datasets relevant to their sites, and we envisage further engagement by presenting wider findings at later stages of the project.
Collaborator Contribution Allowing access to land, providing info on land use history
Impact Datasets on soil biodiversity and functional metrics under different land use options across the UK
Start Year 2015
 
Description Continued engagement with a range of landowners 
Organisation Natural England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The project has sampled a network of ~30 sites to provide novel information of how land management (intensive, extensive, and intervention) affects soil biodiversity and function. Key landowner stakeholders include Natural England, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and other charities (Chimney Meadows, Kingcombe centre, Devon Wildlife Trust, Earthtrust). Following sampling we have continued engagement through updating landowners with datasets relevant to their sites, and we envisage further engagement by presenting wider findings at later stages of the project.
Collaborator Contribution Allowing access to land, providing info on land use history
Impact Datasets on soil biodiversity and functional metrics under different land use options across the UK
Start Year 2015
 
Description Continued engagement with a range of landowners 
Organisation Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project has sampled a network of ~30 sites to provide novel information of how land management (intensive, extensive, and intervention) affects soil biodiversity and function. Key landowner stakeholders include Natural England, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and other charities (Chimney Meadows, Kingcombe centre, Devon Wildlife Trust, Earthtrust). Following sampling we have continued engagement through updating landowners with datasets relevant to their sites, and we envisage further engagement by presenting wider findings at later stages of the project.
Collaborator Contribution Allowing access to land, providing info on land use history
Impact Datasets on soil biodiversity and functional metrics under different land use options across the UK
Start Year 2015
 
Description Continued engagement with a range of landowners 
Organisation The Wildlife Trusts
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project has sampled a network of ~30 sites to provide novel information of how land management (intensive, extensive, and intervention) affects soil biodiversity and function. Key landowner stakeholders include Natural England, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and other charities (Chimney Meadows, Kingcombe centre, Devon Wildlife Trust, Earthtrust). Following sampling we have continued engagement through updating landowners with datasets relevant to their sites, and we envisage further engagement by presenting wider findings at later stages of the project.
Collaborator Contribution Allowing access to land, providing info on land use history
Impact Datasets on soil biodiversity and functional metrics under different land use options across the UK
Start Year 2015
 
Description Meetings with Agronomists, field sampling 
Organisation Agrii
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Agronomist organisations who conduct field trials of novel management practices (e.g cover crops, novel tillage). We have deployed novel biodiversity assessment approaches to the soils collected, to examine if there are early indicators of managemnet efficacy for enhanced soil services.
Collaborator Contribution Provided access to field sites with trials of novel management practices.
Impact Datasets on novel management practice effects on soil biodiversity.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Meetings with Agronomists, field sampling 
Organisation Indigro
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Agronomist organisations who conduct field trials of novel management practices (e.g cover crops, novel tillage). We have deployed novel biodiversity assessment approaches to the soils collected, to examine if there are early indicators of managemnet efficacy for enhanced soil services.
Collaborator Contribution Provided access to field sites with trials of novel management practices.
Impact Datasets on novel management practice effects on soil biodiversity.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Research collaboration 
Organisation IRSTEA National Research Institute Science and Technology
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Visit by Jeremy Puissant to lab to discuss soil biotic and abiotic constraints on functionality
Collaborator Contribution Use of IR spectroscopy to assess soil abiotic responses to land use
Impact Large datasets on effects of land use on soil abiotic properties
Start Year 2016
 
Description 20 Oct Oxford Natural History Museum - Bacterial World exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Exhibition in the Natural History Museum Oxford highlighting the importance of bacteria for human populations. UGRASS staff assisted the SSP team in manning a stand showcasing the importance of microbes for climate regulation, and food production.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/bacterialworld/
 
Description 25 April London Science Museum - "Superbugs" Late Event with the Soil Security Programme, funded by Medical Research Council 
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 UGRASS team assisted in SSP stand
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/superbugs-fight-our-lives
 
Description 28 July Oxford Botanic Gardens, Ugrass (Griffiths/Armbruster) organised and manned an interactive stall focusing on Soil/Earth for children during the "Elements Picnic 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Oxford University Botanic Gardens organised an Elements picnic - a family orientated event over the weekend promoting understanding of the classical elements earth, wind, water and fire. We organised an interactive stall demonstrating the variety of microscopic life forms in soil, and explaining how these organisms are affected by land management for food production.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.obga.ox.ac.uk/event/elements-picnic
 
Description Article in Farmers Guardian on importance of soil health and soil carbon 
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 Following a presentation at the Pasture for Life Association an article was written in the Farmers Guardian highlighting the importance of soil health and soil carbon for sustainable agriculture for food and bioenergy crops. Jeanette Whitaker was quoted in the article on the importance of soil carbon and organic matter for soil health.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Ashish Malik Talk at AGU2017 
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 "Environmental context affects microbial ecophysiological mechanisms underpinning soil carbon storage under different land use " Talk AGU New Orleans December 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Blog on Soil Security website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Blog by team member Kelly Mason on her experience as a roadie for the British Ecological Society promoting ecology to the general public at music festivals. http://besroadshow.blogspot.co.uk/.
The aim of the blog was to share experiences with post-docs, post-grads and academics on alternative ways of engaging the general public with science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.soilsecurity.org/on-the-road-by-kelly-mason/
 
Description British Ecological Society poster presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact How sticky dead microbes form stable soil carbon
K. Mason, K.M. Buckeridge, A.F. La Rosa, N. McNamara, N. Ostle, J. Whitaker

Poster presentation at international conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference Talk J Puissant MMEG 2017 
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 Puissant J., Mang D, Goodall T. , Blaud A. , Clark I., Hirsch P. , Griffiths R. Are soil extracellular enzymes activities locally adapted to their surrounding soil pH? Molecular Microbial Ecology Group Meeting (MMEG 2017).Warwick, UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Conference Talk J Puisssant SOM 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 Puissant J., Blaud A. , Goodall T., Malik A. , Read D.S, Gweon H.S. , Clark I. , Hirsch P. , Griffiths R. Nutrients addition effects on soil microbial diversity, abundance and activity depend on soil pH. 6th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter: SOM 2017, Rothamsted Research • Harpenden (United Kingdom)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Conference platform presentation at Ecological Society of America 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Buckeridge, K.M., Mason, K., Ostle, N., McNamara, N. and Whitaker, J. Grassland management intensity as a control on soil microbial carbon use efficiency. Ecological Society of America, Portland, Oregon.Platform presentation at Ecological Society of America Conference, communicating research outputs from the UGRASS project to an international academic audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Conference presentation Ecology of Soil Microorganisms, Helsinki 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Platform presenation and poster - Buckeridge, K.M., Mason, K., Whitaker, J., McNamara, N. and Ostle, N. Sticky Dead Microbes. Ecology of Soil Microorganisms, Helsinki, Finland (2018).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Credited advice for BBC2 program "Trust me I'm a Doctor" 21 Feb 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Was approached by a researcher to provide a list of common soil bacteria, to be included as a visual in program describing types of microrganisms commonly found in soil envirnment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09svbkm/trust-me-im-a-doctor-series-7-episode-6
 
Description Griffiths, RI. Presentation. WAITROSE Science Day, Warwick University 23rd February 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Waitrose Science Day took place at the University of Warwick on 23rd February 2014. The day will was an opportunity for delegates to hear updates from suppliers, academics and Waitrose representatives on key projects relating to sustainability and the Waitrose Farm Assessment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Guest Speaker: British Ecological Society Summer School 2015. 18-22nd July at Malham Tarn Field Centre in North Yorkshire 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact BES Undergraduate Summer School. Fifty first year ecologists from thirty one universities assembled at Malham Tarn Field Centre, North Yorkshire, to attend a demanding and rewarding week of lectures, workshops, fieldwork skills and careers mentoring.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/education/undergraduate-summer-school-2015/
 
Description Invited Talk to Geoscience Wales, Conwy. May 2016 Unearthing ecosystem services: what can we learn from soil DNA? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited talk to Geoscience Wales - a not-for-profit company, with objectives to promote the geoscience businesses of our Associate members' through marketing their geoscience expertise and services in the broader commercial marketplace. GWL also provide networking and educational opportunities through regular Cluster meetings and seminars. They wished to discuss the use of molecular markers for petroleum discovery in soils and sediments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description NERC Operation Earth Exhibtion, Birmingham 
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 NERC Soil Security Programme stand at NERC Operation Earth event at Thinktank Birmingham 05/04/2018 - "ABCs of Soil" stall to teach visitors about the physical/chemical properties and biology of soil, including comparing the effect of flooding on different ground covers, measuring soil pH, and using microscopes to look at soil fauna. This was aimed at families with small children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Participation in NERC UnEarthed Public Engagement event 
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 Researchers from the U-GRASS project teamed up with others in the Soil Security Programme to deliver an interactive stand at the NERC UnEarthed showcase at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on November 17-20th, 2017. This free public engagement event was largely aimed at school children and their families. We provided a range of activities aimed to demonstrate that soil is much more than just "dirt". Some of this included live earthworms and using microscopes to look at other live soil critters, a "lucky dip" game for discussing other soil microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi, etc.), demonstrations of pH and its importance in plant-soil ecology, and a water pistol display for demonstrating water runoff and erosion and the importance of plants and soil in hindering these processes. Over the course of the four days, over 7,000 visitors attended the event, we gave away nearly 1000 lollipop prizes for one of the activities (i.e. at least 1000 people visited the stand), and the display received positive feedback from the children. The Soil Security Programme have since been approached to provide a similar stand at another public engagement event this year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Participation in an activity, workshop or similar - Royal Society Summer Exhibition - Soils stand 
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 Robert Griffiths and associated UGRASS PhD student Melanie Armbruster attending this event as part of the Royal Society Summer Exhibition. We manned the SSP organised stand engaging a wide variety of audiences with SSP work on soil health. Specifically RG demonstrated the latest technologies for assessing soil biodiversity (Nanopore sequencing)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2018/07/saturday-summer-science/
 
Description Poster and presentation at "Science Uncovered" at the Natural History Museum, London 
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 Presentation - display and posters - at the "Science Uncovered" event held at the Natural History Museum, London aimed at the general public and schoolchildren
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Poster presentation: Cereals 2016, Cambridgeshire 
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 a poster "Life beneath your feet: the soil food web" at Cereals 2016, the main event for those involved in arable agriculture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at agronomy conference ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT CROP CONSULTANTS (AICC) Annual meeting 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT CROP CONSULTANTS (AICC) Annual meeting 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public talk for the International Year of Soil "Microbial biodiversity in agricultural soils - does it matter?" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture held in the evening at Rothamsted Research to mark the International Year of Soils, aimed at a general audience drawn from the locality, well attended, many questions from audience, based on my long research experience at Rothamsted but also highlighting new work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description R Griffiths Talk to Farmers on soil bioindicators 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As part of CEH ASSIST project I was invited to present my work on U-GRASS to a collection of farmers interested in conducting long term field trials on ecological management approaches
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description R Griffiths. Department Seminar "Illuminating the black box of soil Diversity and function" University of York, January 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact University departmental seminar
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Royal Society Summer Exhibition - Soils stand 
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 Two scientists (Kelly Mason and Kate Buckeridge) from the UGrass project consortium took part in the Royal Society Summer Exhibition manning the NERC Soil Security Exhibit with information and activities describing the importance of soil. Soil: our buried treasure" stall to teach visitors about the physical/chemical properties and biology of soil, including comparing the effect of flooding on different ground covers, measuring soil pH, and using microscopes to look at soil fauna. Visitors included school children during the days and adults in the evenings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Science Uncovered at Natural History Museum 
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 Science Uncovered at the Natural History Museum is part of European Researchers night. The aim is to encourage conversation and interaction between researchers and the general public, to raise awareness of scientific research broadly and the broad variety of roles and topics researchers are involved in. Jeanette Whitaker attended in her role as NERC 50th Anniversary ambassador promoting NERC Bioenergy research and research on sustainable agriculture funded through the NERC Soil security programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/science-uncovered-2015.html
 
Description Talk SSP Annual Meeting Reading September 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact SSP annual meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to German Research Foundation (DFG) Bonn, June7-8, 2017 Soil metagenomics illuminates the black box of soil C processing 
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 We would like to invite you as a speaker to a round-table discussion, which will be held on June 7-8, 2017 in Bonn, Germany. It will take place in the course of the preparations to propose a national scientific priority program that shall be funded by the German Research Foundation - DFG.
The topic of the priority program is "Systems ecology of soils - Carbon storage as an emerging property" (for more details please see the 'Visions' document in the attachment). Focus will be research on the process understanding of the (micro)biological regulation and its contribution to essential soil properties, functions, and energy fluxes on example of the carbon turnover. This shall be done on different scales (microhabitat to pedon) and with special regard to the role of biodiversity and functional redundancy in its relevance for the formation of soil organic matter (SOM) as well as the material contribution of microbial biomass to SOM. Integrated, systems ecological approaches should be prioritized that represent soil science from different disciplines, in order to elucidate the systemic regulation of SOM in soil and to contribute to a process based C modelling as well as soil systems modelling.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to farmers and agronomists at the RRA Spring meeting Managing Soil: Inputs vs Outputs, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk to farmers and agronomists "The potential for controlling the N cycle in soil: reducing nitrous oxide emission" at a RRA meeting in Harpenden
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk to farmers and farm practitioners at the Pasture for Life Association meeting, Gloucestershire 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Jeanette Whitaker was an invited speaker at the Pasture For Life Association (PFLA) meeting to discuss the importance of Soil Health in pasture-fed farming. The talk on how to assess soil carbon and soil organic matter content was followed with practical demonstrations of soil sampling and assessments. There was a lot of interest from farmers in the audience who wanted to know how there management practices might affect soil organic matter status .
In follow-up an article was written in the Farmers Guardian by a journalist, quoting points from my presentation. I have also been approached by national Trust farmers to conduct soil carbon stock assessments, and have been invited to participate in a research proposal and study on the effects of mob grazing on soil carbon and organic matter status, involving around 40 PFLA farmers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description U-GRASS staff contrib to SSP stand at NERC - Dynamic Earth 17-19 November 2017, Edinburgh 
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 Our environment shapes our lives, and how we live shapes our environment. We at NERC gave the Scottish public the chance to see our world-class science up close.

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.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://unearthed.nerc.ac.uk/
 
Description member of the HSE Scientific advisory committee on Genetic modification (contained use) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I have been a member of the SACGM (CU) for many years to provide my expertise on the environmental risks of accidental release of GMOs form contained conditions. My expertise is based on all my BBSRC funding over the tears.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,
 
Description member of the Microbiology Society Microbiome Expert Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An expert working group set up by the Microbiology Society which has organised a stakeholder workshop and is drawing up a document to advise government and funding agencies on the important of microbiome research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description talk to farmers and agronomists at the Laws Fertilisers Soils Seminar, Great Massingham, Norfolk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Gave a talk to farmers in Norfolk "Can we manage the soil and root microbiome?" and answered questions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016