Project title: New insights into soil formation, organic matter turnover and degradation of soils over long, decadal to millennial timescales
Where based: Lancaster University
(Research Gate) https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Evans25
(Linked In) www.linkedin.com/in/danevanssoil
Having been brought up within the Norfolk countryside, some of my fondest memories are of Sunday strolls across the fields. I may only have been five or six, but a passion for soil was brewing…
Twenty years later and that enthusiasm for soil is still as strong. Before my undergraduate degree, I received a scholarship from the Royal Geographical Society and spent some time at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska as a field assistant on a mass movement project. This interest in erosion propagated throughout my BSc Physical Geography degree, based at the Royal Holloway University of London. In particular, my dissertation research investigated the influence of root tapering on bulk soil erodibility. It was a fantastic project back in Norfolk with long, hot summer days spent digging, coring and probing the soil I used to stroll across, all those years ago.
To some extent, soils are just like any human; they are living, sensitive and not immortal. In other words, soils have a lifespan; they form, function and degrade. But much of the current literature has focussed on the rates of degradation and erosion, without considering the rates of soil production. This PhD research will fuse the discourses of soil genesis, turnover and degradation to provide fresh, holistic insights into the soil lifespan. In order to address the scarcity of pedogenesis studies in agricultural settings, this project will conduct the UK’s first measurements of agricultural soil production rates. Furthermore, the research will attempt to identify the impacts that these agricultural practices have on the rate at which soils form. It will employ the use of cosmogenic radionuclides in order to achieve this and will be accompanied by advanced analytical work and modelling.