Today we celebrate World Soil Day. Did you know the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT) has its very own Soil Scientist?

With approximately 95% of our food coming from soil and an ever-increasing world population, it’s vital that the soil we have is healthy and stable.

Soil doesn’t just help to produce food – it can store carbon (reducing CO2 in the planet’s atmosphere), store water (to help prevent flooding) and is also a habitat for lots of biodiversity.

Here at LIAT, our Soil Scientist, Dr Iain Gould is interested in how land management and vegetation composition can impact on soil function. His current projects focus on the impact of coastal flooding to agricultural soils in Lincolnshire, long term effects of brackish/saline irrigation to crops and soils, and the influence of different plant roots on soil structure.

Dr Iain Gould delivering a presentation in 2017
Dr Iain Gould delivering a presentation in 2017

Dr Gould previously worked in industry for a soil science consultancy, which covered a range of environments from farmlands, sports pitches and even deserts in the Arabian Peninsula. His interest in soil arose after studying the subject at university and said: ‘Soil is a great medium where you can study biology, chemistry and physics all at once’. After undertaking a PhD looking at how plant diversity can impact on soils, the results were acknowledged by the European Commission.

There are various soil-related projects being undertaken at the University of Lincoln, which include research on the quality of drinking water, as well as looking at how plant roots and microbes can be used to help our soils.

Professor Mat Goddard, School of Life Sciences, is working on an AHDB soil health project, and LIAT are also using lightweight robots to monitor soils in projects with colleagues in the School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln.