BSSS and SSSI Conference: Soil Management and Monitoring

 Day 1:  4 December 2023

Jump to:  BSSS Invited Speaker  |  Policy Session  |  Gala Dinner  |  Tours  |  Oral Presentations  |  SSSI Invited Speaker  |   Exhibitors  |  Sponsors  |  Media and Press

The conference is taking place at the Assembly Buildings Conference Centre

View the abstract book for the conference 
Registration and Poster Set Up - 9:00am - 10:15am

Registration and Poster Set Up

9:00am – 10:15am

BSSS & SSSI

Sign in at the registration desk, collect and set up your poster (if applicable) and network with delegates before the conference begins.

Welcome - 10:15am - 10:30am

Welcome

10:15am – 10:30am

British Society of Soil Science and Soil Science Society of Ireland

Introduction to the Conference - 10:30am - 10:45am

Introduction to the Conference

10:30am – 10:45am

Brian Ervine – The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA, NI)

(Chair – Paul Murphy, SSSI)

Soil Nutrient Health Scheme in Northern Ireland - 10:45am - 11:30am

Soil Nutrient Health Scheme in Northern Ireland

10:45am – 11:30am (inc. Q&A)

Rachel Cassidy – Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI)

(Chair – Paul Murphy, SSSI)

Speaker Bio

Dr. Rachel Cassidy is a catchment scientist in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Belfast. Rachel is currently leading the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme project taking place in Northern Ireland. 

Her areas of expertise lie in:

– Monitoring of diffuse contaminants in agricultural catchments.

– Catchment hydrology

– Critical source area modelling using LiDAR elevation models.

– Hydrogeology and near-surface geophysics.

– Agricultural pressures on freshwater systems

BSSS President’s Invited Lecture - 11:30am - 12:15pm

Benchmarking Soil Health across Europe

11:30am – 12:15pm (inc. Q&A)

Rachel Creamer – Wageningen University

(Chair – Paul Murphy, SSSI)

Speaker Bio
Prof. Dr. Rachel Creamer is chair of the Soil Biology Group at Wageningen University. Rachel has worked as a soil pedologist for the last 25 years, specialising in soil quality, soil biological indicator assessment and soil classification. She has coordinated various national and European (H2020 – LANDMARK) research projects and published over 50 papers and a book. Rachel’s expertise is currently focussed on soil indicator development, linking soil and land based measurements to ecosystem functions. She currently coordinates the European funded BENCHMARKS project on monitoring soil health across Europe.
Presentation Info
Benchmarking Soil Health across Europe The recent proposal for a Soil Monitoring and Resilience Directive by the European Commission states that 60-70% of soils in Europe are currently considered unhealthy due to e.g. pollution, excess nutrients compaction and soil degradation. In light of this worrying figure, the SH&F mission has set the goal to have 75% of European soils healthy or significantly improved by 2030. This is in line with other important European initiatives such as the Green Deal and EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy. Meanwhile, the private sector too, is proposing explicit visions of sustainable regenerative food systems, such as the 1000 landscapes for 1 billion people (1000 landscapes, 2022), the 100-million farmers platform of the World Economic Forum (World Economic Forum, 2022) and the Regen10 initiative of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD, 2022). However, capturing the complexity of soil life for soil health assessments is one of the most challenging paradoxes of contemporary soil science. Soils’ perform a plethora of processes that support the delivery of a range of soil functions/ecosystem services, but we are often scared to try and capture this complexity and instead opt for indicators that are considered simple. Designing a monitoring system for Soil Health that provides the much needed local context for land managers, while at the same time facilitating harmonisation at larger spatial scales is the basis of the EU funded BENCHMARKS project. This moves away from the minimum dataset approach of one system fits all and develops a coherent, yet context-specific, monitoring that captures the variation in agricultural systems across Europe.
Lunch - 12:15pm – 1:15pm

LUNCH AND POSTER PRESENTATION SESSION 1  |  BSSS CPD Drop-in Session

12:15pm – 1:15pm

Soil Carbon Poster Session

Drop-in session led by Natalie Coles – BSSS

Soil Carbon Poster Session - 12:15pm – 1:15pm
Soil Carbon Posters
BSSS CPD Drop-In session - 12:15pm – 1:15pm

Drop-in session led by Natalie Coles – BSSS

Professionals accept responsibility for the maintenance and enhancement of their levels of knowledge, skills and professional competence. The BSSS CPD Programme gives members the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the continuing development of their overall professional competence and to maximise their ability to contribute to society, through application of the skills acquired throughout their professional life. 

From 1 January to 31 March 2024, we will be encouraging Full, Fellow or professionally active Honorary members of the Society to voluntarily submit a record of their 2023 CPD activities. From 1 January 2025, it will be mandatory for all Full, Fellow or professionally active Honorary members to submit a record of their CPD activities on an annual basis in order to retain the M.I. Soil Sci or F.I. Soil Sci designation. 

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss this update in more detail, join us at the CPD workshop during the Society’s Annual Conference with support from the Professional Practice & Development Committee. It is not too late to register for the BSSS Annual Conference, which will take place at the Assembly Conference Buildings in Belfast on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 December, and will be a fantastic opportunity for you to find out more and ask any questions that you may have. 

Policy Session - 1:15pm – 3:20pm

POLICY SESSION: SOIL MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT

1:15pm – 3:20pm (inc. 45 minute Q&A)

The soil policy session will provide an overview of the key activities being undertaken at a governmental level. Each of the four devolved administrations, plus the Republic of Ireland, will present on soil monitoring and management within their region, and highlight the measures being taken to protect our soils.

The panel includes:

– Rachel Boulderstone – DEFRA

– James Cooke – Welsh Government

– Sallie Bailey – Scottish Government

– Brian Ervine – DAERA (Northern Ireland)

– Jim Hodgson – DECC (Ireland)

– Mary Cleary – DAFM (Ireland)

(Chair – Jack Hannam, BSSS)

Rachel Boulderstone - DEFRA

Rachel Boulderstone has led the Soil and Contaminated Land team for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs since 2019. Her team is developing policy to improve and protect soil in England from further degradation and to deliver key ecosystem services and to help achieve wider environmental benefits. Rachel’s extensive experience as a policy advisor within Defra has covered a wide range of areas, including waste management, rural development, flood management, sustainable drainage systems, inland waterways and environmental targets. Rachel has worked on numerous primary legislation, including the Flood and Water Act 2010, the Agricultural Act 2020 and more recently, the Environment Bill.

James Cooke – Welsh Government

James Cooke leads the Peatland, Soil and Agricultural land Use Planning team within the Environmental Sustainability Directorate of Welsh Government. James has led on the development of the National Peatland Action Programme since 2019.

His wider team covers a wide range of evidence, policy and technical advice including the Soil Policy Evidence Programme, development of a Soil Policy Statement for Wales, and representing soils through the planning systems in Developments of National Significance and mineral extraction cases.

Dr Sallie Bailey – Scottish Government

Dr Sallie Bailey, FICFor is Deputy Chief Science Advisor for Scottish Government for environment, natural resources and agriculture and leads the Science Advice Unit, bringing scientific & evidence to the centre of decision-making in government.

Previously, she’s held leadership roles in the state forestry sector; as regional manager for Forestry and Land Scotland, in environmental regulation as Conservator for South Scotland; and, in the Forestry Commission (GB) advising Government with provision of science and evidence to inform policy development (including soils, water, biodiversity, protected species and natural capital).

She has worked with UK Government’s Statutory Nature Conservation Agencies promulgating use of spatial data and GIS. Following completion of her PhD at the University of Nottingham, she completed a post-doctorate at Stanford University on forests and ecosystems in the tropics of Costa Rica, arid ecosystems of Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, Colorado.

Brian Ervine – DAERA
Jim Hodgson - DECC, Ireland

GSI Corporate Portraits. Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells – Fennell Photography Copyright 2015.

Dr. Jim Hodgson PGeo, is a Senior Geologist in Geological Survey Ireland specialising in geophysical surveys. He manages the Tellus programme, a national ground geochemical and airborne geophysical project mapping the soils, rocks and waters of Ireland. A former Vice-President of the Institute of Geologists of Ireland he is active in research concerning radon risk mapping, geomagnetism and peat mapping. He is currently the co-project manager on the Terra Soil project a collaborative research project with Teagasc investigating nutrients, trace elements and soil texture variation across the northern half of Ireland.

Mary Cleary - DAFM, Ireland

 Mary grew up on dairy farm in Co. Wexford. Mary has a keen interested in agriculture and the environment which led her to study Agri- Environmental Sciences in UCD. Mary joined the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine in 2022, working in the Nature and Land Use Division in Johnstown Castle, Wexford as part of the Agricultural Inspectorate team. Previous to this role Mary worked in Teagasc, as a research technician on Agri-SOC and the National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory (NASCO). Mary’s current work in DAFM involves the design and implementation of the National Soil Sampling and Analysis Programme along with National and EU Soils policy.

Break - 3:20pm – 4:00pm

BREAK AND POSTER PRESENTATION SESSION 2

3:20pm – 4:00pm

Soil Health Posters

Soil Health Poster Session - 3:20pm – 4:00pm
Soil Carbon Posters
Keynote 3 - 4:00pm – 4:45pm

A Practitioner’s view of the development of Soil Health Policy

4:00pm – 4:45pm (inc. Q&A)

John Gilliland – Agriculture Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)

(Chair – Jack Hannam, BSSS)

Speaker Bio

Recently appointed to the EU’s Soil Mission Board and a special advisor to the UK’s Agriculture Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), John Gilliland, is a willow and livestock farmer from N. Ireland, whose farm has independently been verified to be “Beyond” Net Zero, today. He is also the Professor of Practice in Agriculture and Sustainability at Queens University Belfast; and chair of the innovative, EIP-Agri funded, farmer led, carbon farming project, ARC Zero.

John has been an award winning farmer in Ireland; President of the Ulster Farmers Union; a Non Executive Director of the Scottish Rural College (SRUC), and an Energy Regulator in N. Ireland; while at the same time, he has been a policy adviser for Devolved, National and European Governments on Biotechnology, Climate Change and Sustainability. In particular, John chaired the UK’s Rural Climate Change Forum, reporting directly to the Secretary of State of DEFRA, London, and supporting the UK at COP15 in Copenhagen.

For seven years as Director of Agriculture and Sustainability of the Irish livestock nutrition company, Devenish, John led the development of the their research farm, the Lands at Dowth, transforming it into both a Lighthouse Farm for WUR’s (Wageningen University & Research) Global Network of Lighthouse Farms, and a Living Lab, in a project called Heartland, with five PhD students, in partnership with WUR and UCD, and funded by the EU’s Marie Curie Programme. Alongside this, John chaired the writing of the N. Ireland Sustainable Land Management Strategy which led to the recent opening of N. Ireland’s Soil Nutrient Health and LiDAR Scheme, which is a World first and an investment of £45m to baseline all fields’ soil, trees and hedges in N. Ireland.

Summary - 4:45pm – 5:00pm

SUMMARY

4:45pm – 5:00pm

British Society of Soil Science and Soil Science Society of Ireland

Gala Dinner- 7:30pm – 12:00am

GALA DINNER 

7:30pm – 12:00am

Crumlin Road Gaol

Book Here

Day 2:  5 December 2023

Tours - 8:00am – 12:15pm

TOURS

8:00am – 12:15pm

Scientific Tour

Scientific tour led by Suzanne Higgins (SSSI), and Rachel Cassidy and Alex Higgins (AFBI).

Delegates will have an opportunity to take part in a field tour in County Down, where 132,700 fields were soil sampled in 2022/23 as part of the 4 year NI Soil Nutrient Health Scheme. Delegates will see how whole-farm soil sampling, innovative reporting formats (including nutrient runoff risk maps) and local water quality monitoring are being used to optimise crop nutrient applications and to improve environmental performance.

The tour will include a visit to a catchment with fully instrumented water quality monitoring equipment, with an opportunity to hear from local farmers how the scheme has benefited their own farm.

City Tour

Led by expert local guides from DC Tours, the city walking tour will introduce you to the ‘Best of Belfast’. The tour starts and finishes at the Assembly Buildings Conference Centre and will be the perfect introduction to Belfast and its unique past.

Along the way you will discover fantastic street art, beautiful architecture, amazing history and the unique stories of Belfast’s citizens throughout the centuries. From the point where Belfast first got its name over 1,300 years ago, to historic landmarks such as St. Anne’s Cathedral, the Customs House, and the Albert Clock, you will hear stories of some of the most intriguing people who have called Belfast their home over the centuries.

The tour takes you through the heart of the city and also the cultural hub of the Cathedral Quarter and along the waterfront, with views of the river Lagan. You’ll also see Samson and Goliath, the iconic yellow cranes in the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built over 100 years ago, and the memorial in the grounds of city hall to those who perished on its maiden voyage.

You’ll also discover the challenges Belfast has faced and hear how we came through our most recent conflict with resilience and the benefits of our peace agreement.

Lunch - 12:15pm – 12:55pm

LUNCH   |  BSSS CPD WORKSHOP

12:15pm – 12:55pm

Drop-In Session led by Natalie Coles – BSSS

BSSS CPD Drop-In Session - 12:15pm – 12:55pm

Workshop led by Natalie Coles – BSSS

Professionals accept responsibility for the maintenance and enhancement of their levels of knowledge, skills and professional competence. The BSSS CPD Programme gives members the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the continuing development of their overall professional competence and to maximise their ability to contribute to society, through application of the skills acquired throughout their professional life. 

From 1 January to 31 March 2024, we will be encouraging Full, Fellow or professionally active Honorary members of the Society to voluntarily submit a record of their 2023 CPD activities. From 1 January 2025, it will be mandatory for all Full, Fellow or professionally active Honorary members to submit a record of their CPD activities on an annual basis in order to retain the M.I. Soil Sci or F.I. Soil Sci designation. 

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss this update in more detail, join us at the CPD workshop during the Society’s Annual Conference with support from the Professional Practice & Development Committee. It is not too late to register for the BSSS Annual Conference, which will take place at the Assembly Conference Buildings in Belfast on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 December, and will be a fantastic opportunity for you to find out more and ask any questions that you may have. 

Welcome - 12:55pm – 1:00pm

Welcome

12:55pm – 1:00pm

British Society of Soil Science and Soil Science Society of Ireland

SSSI Invited Lecture - 1:00pm – 1:45pm

KEYNOTE 4 – David Wall

1:00pm – 1:45pm (inc. Q&A)

(Chair – Thomas Cummins, SSSI)

Speaker Bio

David Wall is a Research Officer at Teagasc.

His research interests include: 

  • Improving the precision of fertiliser advice
  • Predicting soil nitrogen supply through soil N mineralization
  • Soil phosphorus dynamics and plant and animal P nutrition
  • Nutrient cycling and sustainability of farming systems
  • Soil pH and lime –interactions with nutrient efficiency
  • Organic manure management
  • Remediating heavy metal contamination in soils and produce

He is also the editor of Teagasc nutrient recommendations for agricultural crops.

Oral Presentation Session 1 - 1:45pm – 2:45pm

ORAL PRESENTATION SESSION 1

1:45pm – 2:45pm (inc. Q&A)

Soil Health abstracts (1) – Assembly Hall

Soil Carbon abstracts (1) – Ground Floor Conference Room

Soil Health Presentation Session

Soil Health abstracts (1) – Assembly Hall

  1. Nikki Baggaley – Developing a soil monitoring framework for Scotland
  2. Hannah Binner – Comparative geochemistry of urban soils in the south of Ireland
  3. Chris Feeney – Development of soil health benchmarks for managed and semi-natural landscapes across Great Britain
  4. Felicity Crotty – Investigating soil health during conflict

(Chair – Saoirse Tracy, SSSI)

Soil Carbon Presentation Session

Soil Carbon abstracts (1) – Ground Floor Conference Room

  1. Jonathan Holland – The response of soil respiration to long-term nutrient inputs and soil tillage in an improved grassland ecosystem
  2. Jonah Prout – Degraded arable soils in England: How much manure to restore?
  3. Blair Ruffing – ADAPTForRes: Partitioning Soil Respiration in Irish Forests for Better Climate Models
  4. Non Williams – Estimating the soil carbon stocks on Welsh farms

(Chair – Sharon O’Rourke, SSSI)

Break - 2:45pm – 3:15pm

BREAK AND POSTER PRESENTATION SESSION 3

2:45pm – 3:15pm

Nutrient Management, Water Management, And Technology and Innovation Posters

Nutrient Management, Water Management, And Technology and Innovation Poster Session - 2:45pm – 3:15pm
Technology and Innovation Posters
Oral Presentation Session 2 - 3:15pm – 4:15pm

ORAL PRESENTATION SESSION 2

3:15pm – 4:15pm (inc. Q&A)

Soil Health Abstracts (2) – Assembly Hall

Nutrient Management and Water Management Abstracts – Ground Floor Conference Room

Soil Health Presentation Session

Soil Health Abstracts (2) – Assembly Hall

  1. Rose Boyko – A review of useful soil health indicators for Scottish agricultural soils
  2. Luci Corbett – Linking soil health measured by enzyme activity and oak tree health
  3. Angeliki Kourmouli – Impacts of mineral-based construction and demolition waste on soil functions and ecosystem services
  4. Ruth Wade – FixOurFood: The impact of regenerative farming on soils in Yorkshire

(Chair – Saoirse Tracy, SSSI)

Nutrient Management and Water Management Presentation Session

Nutrient Management and Water Management Abstracts – Ground Floor Conference Room

  1. Isobel Lloyd – Greenhouse gas fluxes from winter wheat fertilised with treated and untreated pig slurry
  2. Rebecca Hall – Geospatial modelling of soil phosphorus fractions and sorption indicators from heterogeneous landscapes
  3. David Clarke – Crop Simulation Modelling to Support Precision Nitrogen Management
  4. Xiaoxia Cao – Municipal Solid Waste Compost and Wastewater Recovered Struvite as a Chemical Fertiliser Replacement in Irish Grasslands: Spatiotemporal Impacts on Soil Phosphorus

(Chair – Suzanne Higgins, SSSI & AFBI)

Oral Presentation Session 3 - 4:15pm – 5:15pm

ORAL PRESENTATION SESSION 3

4:15pm – 5:15pm (inc. Q&A)

Soil Carbon Abstracts (2) – Assembly Hall

Technology and Innovation Abstracts – Ground Floor Conference Room

Soil Carbon Presentation Session

Soil Carbon Abstracts (2) – Assembly Hall

  1. Pippa Chapman – Sequestering soil organic carbon by planting hedgerows in agricultural landscapes
  2. Laura Bentley – National trends in arable top-soil organic matter over 40 years from the UK Countryside Survey
  3. Amey Sudhir Tilak – Modelling CO2 and CH4 fluxes from a Rewetted Irish Peatland Previously Drained and Forested with Sitka Spruce
  4. Dafydd Elias – Soil mineralogy, litter quality and microbial community controls on the formation of mineral associated organic matter

(Chair – Sharon O’Rourke, SSSI)

Technology and Innovation Presentation Session

Technology and Innovation Abstracts – Ground Floor Conference Room

  1. Silvia Arpano – Testing soil profiles to support calcareous grassland habitat creation
  2. Nikolaos Vavlas – Remote sensing of cover crop legacies on soil health and main crop N-uptake dynamics
  3. Shayan Kabiri – X-ray fluorescence core scanning for high resolution geochemical characterisation of soils.
  4. Felipe de Santana – FTIR spectroscopy combined with chemometrics to map lime requirement from unknown samples covering large-scale heterogeneous areas

(Chair – Paul Hallett, BSSS)

Closing Remarks - 5:15pm – 5:30pm

CLOSING REMARKS

5:15pm – 5:30pm

British Society of Soil Science and Soil Science Society of Ireland

Exhibitors

There will be several exhibitors at the conference in the Exhibition Area who you will be able to network with. This includes representatives from the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS), the Soil Science Society of Ireland (SSSI), Cranfield University, and the Agri-Food and BioSciences Institute (AFBI).

Media and Press

To find out more about the conference and its relevance to World Soil Day (5 December), we have released an official press release with further information and quotes from all parties involved.