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For University of Reading staff and students only

Talk by Chris Collins

‘Spectroscopic approaches to analysis of soil carbon’

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For University of Reading staff and students only

Talk by Harriet Robson

‘How do plant x plant interactions affect rhizosphere microbial community structure and function?’

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For University of Reading staff and students only

Talk by Charlotte Hawkins

‘Developing optical methods for catchment management to protect drinking water’

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For University of Reading staff and students only

Talk by Betty Amponsah-Doku

‘Effects of land management on the chemical properties of Ghanaian cocoa soils’

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Your World, Your Science

We are all scientists at heart, being curious about what we see and questioning the world around us. Scientists are now harnessing this collective curiosity, and involving the public in research – the time of Citizen Science is now! Come grab a drink, and hear about the wide range of Citizen Science projects happening at the University that you can get involved in. Go on, come join the revolution!

Dr Sarah Duddigan will explain what can a tea bag can tell you about soil, while Dr Clare Watt will speak about space weather and its impact on our lives, and Professor Ed Hawkins will cover the Weather Rescue project and highlight what the volunteers have helped discover!

To see the full details of the event or to book tickets, click here.

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Talk by Fred L. Ogden, Ph.D. Professor, UCAR Senior Visiting Scientist and Academic-in-Residence, NOAA/NWS Office of Water Prediction, National Water Center, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA


When rain falls, some or all of it enters into or “infiltrates” the soil.   The rain that does not infiltrate becomes surface water that can cause flooding, so it is of great interest to people making flood predictions.   Predicting how much rainfall infiltrates is a problem that has historically presented hydrologists with much difficulty.  Despite the fact that the so-called Richards’ equation was first posited by Richardson in 1922, identification of a general, accurate, and reliable solution has evaded hydrologists for generations- until now.

Fred L Ogden finding the soil moisture velocity equation flood forecasting

Because of the many computational difficulties associated with reliable and accurate solution of Richards’ equation, hydrologists have developed approximate solutions of various complexity, none of which approach the capabilities of the Richards’ solution except in the simplest of cases.  Developed together with then Ph.D. student Cary Talbot, the finite moisture-content solution methodology was published in 2008, as another approximation lacking deep theoretical justification.  However, in 2014 after some new theoretical work with his research group, Prof. Ogden set up a laboratory column experiment to collect data to validate a revised finite moisture-content solution to simulate groundwater table dynamic effects on the water content of the unsaturated zone.  The new solution methodology performed as well or by some measures, better than numerical solution of Richards’ equation, and led to identification of the Soil Moisture Velocity Equation (SMVE), a completely new formulation that is equivalent to Richards’ equation but with velocity as the dependent variable.  The SMVE consists of two parts.  The first “advection-like” part accounts for the flow associated with gravity and the integrated (scalar) capillarity of the wetting front, and can be solved as an ordinary differential equation using the finite moisture-content discretization.   The second “diffusion-like” part accounts for flows due to the shape of the wetting front, and is negligibly small in all cases tested thus far.  The finite moisture-content solution of the advection-like term is a fast general, accurate, and reliable vadose zone flow calculation method, representing a technological first.



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For University of Reading staff and students only

Talk by Dedy Antony

‘Factors affecting soil carbon storage at depth under different land uses in the UK’

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For University of Reading staff and students only

Talk by Ben Jones

‘Meta-analysis of TSCF data and the environmental fate models sensitivity to changes in plant uptake’

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One of the earthworms found in a soil sample in Shropshire

By Jeremy Lelean, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Reading

Soil, from being an overlooked area of research, is now considered an area of vital interest in the solution to many of the global problems of we currently face. A key idea of how to manage our soil is the notion of soil health, which was referred to regularly in the newly published DEFRA Twenty-Five Year Environment Plan.

Measuring soil health, however, is a vexed question as there are a number of potential indicators that can be used. One of these is earthworm numbers, but numbers alone may not give a good picture of soil health overall. As part of the Soil Security Programme, fellow Dr Jackie Stroud has developed a method that is more indicative of soil health than simple earthworm numbers.

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