The issue

Healthy soils and peatlands are critical for life. They produce 95 per cent of our food and are the source of many of our antibiotics. They store more carbon than the world's forests, mitigate climate change, recycle nutrients and waste, and clean our water. Yet, they are vulnerable to pollution, unsustainable exploitation and erosion.

Our role

Our multidisciplinary, integrated soils research spans physical, biological and chemical soil processes and investigates their interaction with the biosphere. This research enables environmental risk assessment and prediction of how soils may change under future scenarios of land use and climate change.

Our commitment

  • To determine the status, trends and drivers of change in soil health, including change of biodiversity and carbon stocks in British soils and peats.
  • To develop a new generation of soil system models that accurately represent biogeochemical cycling and soil function from local to global scales.
  • To ensure these new models can predict the impact of land use and climate change on soils at the landscape scale.

Our research

A sample of CEH Land Cover® plus: Crops data
National maps estimate average fertiliser and pesticide applications
SOC-D field sampling site
Field sampling project part of UK-SCAPE National Capability programme
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology carries out a variety of long-term environmental monitoring, including air quality
Delivering integrated understanding of the environment
Fieldwork on the PEATBOG project
Peat bogs 'tougher than we thought' but may still be vulnerable to rapid or extreme environmental change
© NERC – Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. All rights reserved.
Because it takes 10,000 years to create a soil but only 10 years to destroy it
Soil © Shutterstock
Because crops would not grow, and purification of pollutants would not take place