What is the Asset?

The Soil Health Facility offers real-time, pilot-scale environmental simulation of soil-implement, soil-human and soil-plant water interactions in controllable test conditions. This will help inform on-farm decision making and the development of more efficient and sustainable methods of food production.

Why is there a need?

Healthy soils underpin most agricultural businesses, as they are vital for crop production. However, soil properties also influence the viability and distribution of soil-borne pests, weeds and diseases. Soil management can influence these relationships, but there are significant gaps in our knowledge about how different practices affect the persistence and transmission of biotic threats. Guidance needs to be developed on how to manipulate the physical, chemical and biological properties of varied soils to optimise crop health and protection.

The facility will bring the latest scientific knowledge and understanding to 21st century farming. It will help to deliver more profitable farming, increased agricultural productivity, a greener environment, sustainable rural communities and a better diet for populations around the world.

The Centre also benefits from Cranfield University’s strength and leadership in soil science, agricultural engineering, agri-informatics and plant science, combined with its enthusiasm for the commercial application of its research.

What does it do?

The CHAP consortium of academic and industrial partners operates over multiple sites, giving farmers access to the best and most sustainable technologies, strategies and protocols to improve crop performance, making a real difference at the farm gate.

How will it help farmers, growers, food industry etc?

The Soil Health facilities at Cranfield University will support agrifood businesses, agrochemical companies, seed companies and research providers by giving them access to the following: Soil processing facilities for creating defined soil conditions at pilot scale; Linkable soil modules (1.2m3) for tillage operations and real-time monitoring of soil properties, including lysimetry; Walk-in plant growth cabinets and extensive glasshouse for plant growth trials under defined soil conditions and climate scenarios; Adjustable mobile slopes for simulating rainfall events in soil-plant systems for analysis of soil hydrology, erosion, infiltration and crop establishment;  Soil chemical analytical facilities, including ICP-MS;  and Root phenotyping facilities for in situ root scanning and imaging of washed root systems.

Contact details.

To find out more, book a tour of our facilities or discuss a potential collaboration with us, please contact:

Professor Leon Terry (l.a.terry@cranfield.ac.uk; +44 (0)1234 750111)