Better understandings of soil structure for improved agriculture

Using 3D X-ray technology to investigate how long-term zero-tillage influences soil structure 

Lead researcher: Luke Wardak

Supervisor: Professor Sacha Mooney

Zero-tillage is a practice that eliminates disturbance to the soil and is typically used in combination with other regenerative agriculture practices. Zero-tillage is used to protect soil carbon, promote soil organisms, supress soil-borne plant diseases, and save money on fuel for farm machinery. It is known that this practice generates a very different soil structure when compared with a ploughed soil. Structures within zero-tilled soil are generated by roots and soil organisms such as earthworms and are stabilised over time by organic matter and microbial activity. This structure, however, is very important in how it provides pathways for the transport of water and applied chemicals such as pesticides and fertilisers. This 4-year PhD project aims to understand how long-term zero-tillage influences the development of soil structure using 3-D X-ray scanning and how these structures influence important processes like the transport of agrochemicals. In addition, pesticides and fertilisers can be prepared in different ways to change the way they behave in soil. This project hopes to investigate the effect of different transport behaviour of agrochemicals to identify those that perform better in differently structured soils.

Co-funded by: BBSRC & Syngenta


World-class research at the University of Nottingham

University Park
+44 (0) 115 951 5151
Athena Swan Logo