30 June 2021

Soil resources in the UK: overlooked and undervalued?

Organised by:

SCI’s Agrisciences Committee

Online Webinar: 16:00-17:00 BST

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The SCI Agrisciences Group is delighted to announce that Prof Jane Rickson of Cranfield University is the 2021 recipient of the Andrew Medal. 

In this lecture Professor Rickson will highlight the importance of soil resources in delivering diverse benefits to society. As well as the production of food, fibre, fodder and (bio)fuel, soils regulate our water supplies and mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration and storage. Soils provide habitats for biodiversity and make important contributions to our cultural life too.
However, increasing demands on this ‘thin layer of earth’ have degraded and damaged this finite, non-renewable natural resource. The economic costs of soil degradation in England and Wales alone are estimated to exceed £1.5 billion every year. Recent analysis has shown that some soils in England and Wales may become unproductive by 2050 and some may disappear completely by 2050.

Working with farmers and land managers, applied research at Cranfield University aims to understand the drivers of soil degradation and generate scientific evidence in support of practical measures that are cost effective in a) reversing soil degradation and b) improving the health of our soils.

Andrew Medal and Lecture
Professor Rickson’s lecture will perfectly highlight why she is receiving the Andrew Medal for her work. Dr Sydney Andrew, a brilliant chemical engineer working for ICI, was a long-time SCI member who exemplified the Society’s mission to encourage the application of chemistry and related sciences for public benefit, who died in November 2011. He bequeathed a substantial share of his estate to SCI for the founding of the Andrew Medal Lecture, to be presented every third year on the theme of neglected science. These are areas of science which, though of importance in agriculture and the chemical industry, receive scant attention.
The inaugural Andrew Medal was presented to Sir John Beddington in 2017.


Dr Alastair Leake

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Dr Alastair Leake is Director of Policy & Allerton Project at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Leicestershire, where intensive farming and exceptional levels of biodiversity co-exist. The Allerton farm is one of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ Sustainable Intensification Demonstration Platforms and has produced ground-breaking research on the effects of different farming methods on biodiversity. He has over 20 years of vast experience in the farming industry.
Dr Leake has a PhD in Organic and Integrated Farming Systems from Leicester University and is a BASIS-registered agronomist and trainer, as well as being the current chairman of the awards panel at the Royal Agricultural Society of England. He is also a member of the board of directors at Rothamsted Research, the world’s oldest agricultural research institute.

Prof Jane Rickson

Cranfield University

Jane Rickson is Professor of Soil Erosion and Conservation at Cranfield University. She has over 30 years’ experience of research, consultancy and teaching in soil and water engineering, specialising in soil degradation and sustainable land management. Her work has focused on better understanding of soil functions and their role in delivering ecosystems goods and services, including agricultural production, water regulation and carbon storage. Jane was part of the Cranfield team that won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide. Her work includes research and consultancy for Government and industry, and she is involved in teaching on postgraduate courses in Land Reclamation and Restoration, Environmental Engineering and Soil Management. Professor Rickson was the first female President of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers in its 80-year history. Jane is a Chartered Environmentalist, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists.


30 June 2021

Welcome & acknowledgments
Sharon Todd, Executive Director, SCI
Chair’s introduction & awarding of Andrew Medal
Dr Alastair Leake, Director of Policy, The Game & Wildlife Trust
Andrew Medal Lecture: Soil resources in the UK: overlooked and undervalued?
Prof Jane Rickson, Professor of Soil Erosion and Conservation, Cranfield University
Q & A
Closing remarks
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