Soils and carbon

© Mike Dodd

Soils and carbon


Soil is a living system created from weathered rocks by the actions of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria across a variety of time periods.

Soils on floodplains receive regular deposits of mineral particles and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc) brought from upstream in flood water. Floodplain soils remain sustainably fertile, supporting lay crops and they steadily accrete organic carbon in their profile.

Research Aims

  1. To quantify soil nutrient budgets under different flood and management regimes.
  2. To understand the key nutrient (phosphorus) balance in floodplain soil in relation with plant communities and hay crop.
  3. To measure soil organic carbon in floodplain soils under the different hydrological regime and management.

Related projects

Two large projects in the Thames and Severn valleys have gathered data on carbon storage in floodplain soils under different management regimes: arable, meadow-restoration sites, intensive grassland and ancient floodplain meadows.

Sponsored by Ecover's Fertilise the Future grant, the Floodplain Meadow Partnership with partners Long Mead's Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project and the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, will evaluate the amount of carbon stored in the soil for different floodplain land uses.

The Flourishing Floodplains project, sponsored by Green Recovery Challenge Fund, was run in collaboration with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust the in Severn and Avon Vales. The FMP assessed soil-carbon storage and soil-nutrient status under different floodplain land uses.

Our publications

Araya, Yoseph N.; Gowing, David J. and Dise, N. (2013). Does soil nitrogen availability mediate the response of grassland composition to water regime? Journal of Vegetation Science, 24(3) pp. 506–517.

Michalovà, Dana; Gilbert, Joanne C.; Lawson, Clare S.; Gowing, David J. G. and Marrs, Rob H. (2011). The combined effect of waterlogging, extractable P and soil pH on α-diversity: a case study on mesotrophic grasslands in the UK. Plant Ecology, 212(5) pp. 879–888.

Kalusová, Veronika; Le Duc, Michael G.; Gilbert, Joanne C.; Lawson, Clare S.; Gowing, David J. G. and Marrs, Rob H. (2009). Determining the important environmental variables controlling plant species community composition in mesotrophic grasslands in Great Britain. Applied Vegetation Science, 12(4) pp. 459–471.

Gilbert, Joanne; Gowing, David and Wallace, Hilary (2009). Available soil phosphorus in semi-natural grasslands: assessment methods and community tolerances. Biological Conservation, 142(5) pp. 1074–1083.

Gowing, David; Wallace, Hilary; Prosser, Mike and Dodd, Michael (2008). Nutrient Analysis of the Oxford Floodplain Meadows. Research Report by The Open University for Black and Veatch/Environment Agency.

Eschen, René; Mortimer, Simon R.; Lawson, Clare S.; Edwards, Andrew R.; Brook, Alex J.; Igual-Arroyo, José M.; Hedlund, Katarina and Schaffner, Urs (2007). Carbon addition alters early succession on ex-arable fields. Journal of Applied Ecology, 44(1) pp. 95–104.

Stevens, C. J.; Dise, N. B.; Gowing, D. J. G. and Mountford, J. O. (2006). Loss of forb diversity in relation to nitrogen deposition in the UK: regional trends and potential controls. Global Change Biology, 12(10) pp. 1823–1833.

Clark, L. J.; Gowing, D. J. G.; Lark, R. M.; Leeds-Harrison, P. B.; Miller, A. J.; Wells, D. M.; Whalley, W. R. and Whitmore, A. P. (2005). Sensing the physical and nutritional status of the root environment in the field: a review of progress and opportunities. Journal of Agricultural Science, 143(5) pp. 347–358.

Stevens, Carly J.; Dise, Nancy B.; Mountford, J. Owen and Gowing, David J. (2004). Impact of nitrogen deposition on the species richness of grasslands. Science, 303(5665) pp. 1876–1879.

Gilbert, Joanne C.; Gowing, David J.G. and Loveland, Peter (2003). Chemical amelioration of high phosphorus availability in soil to aid the restoration of species-rich grassland. Ecological Engineering, 19(5) pp. 297–304.