John Crawford is currently a Science Director at Rothamsted Research, and prior to that was Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Sydney, where he was also Director of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions and Leader of Complex Systems at the Charles Perkins Centre.
His lifelong interest is in soil, and in particular to develop a theory of how soil works. He has put forward the idea that the interaction between soil structure genesis and microbial activity in soil gives rise to spontaneous organisation that determines key soil properties. His latest work combines soil metagenomics with physics and metabolic systems analysis to reveal the mechanisms of how nutrient, tillage and cover crop management can affect water storage, nutrient flows and efficiency, and carbon sequestration. He is now using this theory to seek ways of optimise soil management and to properly define the concept of soil health.
He works with both industry and research organisations to help ensure scientific discoveries can have global impact quickly, and is helping the UK Government deliver it’s £90M Transforming Food Production programme, which is part of its Industry Strategy to improve the productivity of UK agriculture. He works on projects with farmers in S. America, China and Borneo.