Eleanor Reed Presents Research and Elected to the Council of the British Soil Science Society

Wardell Armstrong Environmental Scientist, Eleanor Reed recently presented research from Bangor University to an audience of 140 delegates at the annual British Society of Soil ScienceMeeting held at Reading University in September 2016.

The presentation provided a summary of a year-long agronomic field trial, in which Eleanor studied the impact of the application of biochar or wood ash on soil quality and crop productivity, together with a lab incubation study to assess the mineralisation effect of these two substrates on native Soil Organic Matter.

Twelve months following the addition of these substrates in to the soil, the biochar had significantly increased soil moisture content, soil pH, Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) and Soil Organic Matter (SOM) contents in the soil. The wood ash significantly increased soil pH levels only. Neither substrate had an impact on crop productivity. The lab incubation study showed that the biochar had no impact on the rate of native SOM mineralization (i.e. C turnover), however the wood ash significantly reduced the mineralization of native SOM, which is known as a negative priming effect.

These results confirmed the ability of biochar to sequester carbon, whilst the incubation study displayed the potential for the application of wood ash to slow down the turnover of native SOM in the soil. Therefore, there is potential for the co-application of both substrates to soil, to both increase C within the soil, and concurrently reduce the turnover of native SOM. However, this would require further research.

In addition to presenting, Eleanor, who works in Wardell Armstrong’s Newcastle Upon Tyne office, was elected to the Council of the British Soil Science Society. In the 4-year post, she will represent the society and promote soil science to academics, soil practitioners and the wider public in the build up to the World Congress of Soil Science in 2022 in Glasgow.

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