I am a Soil Scientist working on the MoSS project as a Research Fellow, which is a project collaboration between UoN, Syngenta (industrial sponsor) and Rothamsted. Other members on the team are Professor Sacha J. Mooney (PI, UoN), Dr Faheem Padia (Syngenta), Dr Martine I. de Heer (Syngenta), Dr Xiaoxian Zhang (Rothamsted) and Dr Craig Sturrock (UoN).
The MoSS project aims to quantify and model how pore structure from different soil textural classes influences the movement and retention of particles through soil cores obtained from agricultural fields (undisturbed) and when the same soil is repacked (homogenised). My role includes imaging analysis using X-ray Computer Tomography scans, and the quantification of fluid transport through soils structure by applying techniques such as hydraulic conductivity and breakthrough curves.
My PhD research focused on the response of soil biological and physicochemical properties to different agricultural practices. I applied interdisciplinary techniques to further our understanding on how soil organisms, from microbes to macrofauna, interact with their physicochemical environment and how this information could be translated into agronomic decisions. My PhD was sponsored by AgroCycle EU, a Horizon 2020 research and innovation project addressing the circular economy of the agri-food sector. AgroCycle was a collaboration between 26 partners from the EU, China and Hong Kong, and encompassed various stakeholders ranging from practitioners, academia to industry. My team included partners from both academia (Harper Adams University) and industry (Agrii).
I went part-time during the final stages of my PhD and undertook a full-time Research Associate position with ECOinsect Ltd in collaboration with Harper Adams University and University of Reading. We investigated the scaling up potential of using Black Soldier Flies (BSF) as animal feed and explored the valorisation of byproducts originating from rearing the insects. My role related to the latter, where I was responsible for the running of glasshouse trials aimed to better understand the responses of crops and productivity associated soil properties to BSF byproducts. I went on to do another postdoc before joining UoN, where I was responsible for the benchmarking of soil organic carbon (SOC) across agricultural soils.