Institute for Sustainability



Soil is essential to life, including the sustainability of the world’s food supply. It isn't just dirt but contains billions of organisms and nutrients necessary for plant growth making it vital to life on Earth. It is also important for other resources such as water. For example, the more nutrients we add back into the soil such as soil organic carbon from decomposing plants, the more it is able to hold water.

Due to environmental pressures placed on the soil such as intensive agriculture and climate change, human societies have depleted the soil to such a large extent that it is unable to serve people and the ecosystem in a sustainable way.

In response to this environmental challenge soil researchers in sustainability at Newcastle University are developing ways to use soil to capture carbon and keep it in the ground, particularly urban soils and peat. They are also investigating how contaminating elements in the soil are linked to disease, plus mapping the soil to increase agricultural production sustainably.

Urban soils for rapid carbon capture

Prof David Manning, School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences and Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel, School of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development

Linking disease to contaminated soil

Dr Martin Cooke, School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences

Remote sensing for soil mapping

Dr James Taylor, School of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development

Why peat is important to climate

Dr Geoffrey Abbott, School of Civil Engineering & Geosciences

Soil research
Soil is vital to life on the planet.