Carbon Capture for Soil Ecosystem Service Enhancement

CASE award with Greenworld Sales Ltd. (REID_UENV20ARIES)

Carbon Capture for Soil Ecosystem Service Enhancement

CASE award with Greenworld Sales Ltd. (REID_UENV20ARIES)

Project Description


Prof Brian Reid, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Dr Amii Harwood, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Mr Steve Kilham, Greenworld Sales Ltd



Over the last century, agriculture has caused soil erosion and the loss of soil organic carbon on an enormous scale. These losses have damaged the delivery key soil ecosystem services; including, soil carbon storage per se, soil biodiversity, soil resilience to climate change, soil fertility and increased flood risk. In June 2019, the UK Government declared “what no country can stand, is the loss of its soil and its fertility, and therefore, there is an emergency”.


This research is timely as it aligns with global aspirations (4 Per Mil Initiative to build soil carbon stocks for climate change mitigation. The research will key into the rethinking of UK agricultural payment policy; that, under the ELM System, will allocate agri-payments for the delivery of public “goods” (i.e. soil ecosystem services).


Working with the CASE Partner (Greenworld), the research will instate field trials to quantify the influence of paper crumble (PC; a by-product of waste paper recycling) on soil carbon, soil quality and the delivery of manifold soil services. Measurements, to evaluate key physical, chemical and biological attributes will be made at these trials over the course of the PhD. Using this data, the research will apply environmental economic tools and GIS to translate measurements (relating to soil carbon gains and their influence upon soil services) to create regional and national visualisation of holistic SES benefit associated with PC application to dissimilar soils. The project and its outputs will be of immediate interest to DEFRA. Though links to this Agency impact will be realised.


Training will be provided in research design, the assessment of soil physical, chemical and biological properties, GIS and environmental economics. The student will gain first-hand experience of instrumentation to assess soil nutrients and biological functioning and visualisation tools to communicate science effectively.

Person specification

Applicants should have i) experience of analysis of environmental media (soil, water etc) and field-based research, and ii) an aptitude/willingness, to combine natural science with environmental economics and geographic systems. Suitable degrees include: environmental science, environmental chemistry, biochemistry, earth-science, geography, ecology.


  • 1.
  • 2. Lal, R. (2010). Managing soils and ecosystems for mitigating anthropogenic carbon emissions and advancing global food security. BioScience, 60, 708-721.
  • 3. Smith, P. (2007). Land use change and soil organic carbon dynamics. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 81, 169-178.
  • 4. XM Li, QL Chen, C He, Q Shi, SC Chen, BJ Reid, YG Zhu, GX Sun (2019). Organic carbon amendment, the chemodiversity of soil dissolved organic matter and its associations with soil microbial communities. Environmental Science and Technology, 53, 50-59.
  • 5. Latawiec, A.E., Peake, L., Baxter, H., Cornelissen, G., Grotkiewicz, K., Hale, S., Królczyk, J., Kubon, M., Łopatka, A., Medynska-Juraszek, A., Reid, B., Siebielec, G., Sohi, S., Spiak, Z., & Strassburg, B. (2017) A reconnaissance-scale GIS-based multicriteria decision analysis to support sustainable biochar use: Poland as a case study. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Landscape Management, 25, 208-222.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award.
  • Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area (see
  • This studentship will start on 1st October 2020, and the closing date for applications is 23:59 on 15th January 2020.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 18/19 February 2020.
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor.
  • Please note that the joint NERC-ESRC ARIES-SeNSS studentship projects have different deadlines and funding arrangements. For full details please visit, or contact

Studentship Open for Applications

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