Soil organisms carry out many of the ecosystem functions that enable life on land. They contribute to soil formation, nutrient recycling and exchange, water supply, flood mitigation, storage of soil carbon, absorption and emission of greenhouse gases, development of biochemical and medical products and control of pests and diseases.
The soil biology special interest group was formed in 2017 to bring together soil scientists, entomologists, microbiologists, ecologists, taxonomists, naturalists, farmers, agronomists, conservationists and others with an interest in understanding the ecology, diversity and function of soils. We aim to support anyone working on any soil taxa, but are particularly interested in integrating an understanding of microbes and plants with larger soil fauna such as mites, springtails and earthworms.
Our developing group aims to provide a range events of interest from small-scale regional workshops and meetings up to large-scale international conferences, as well as providing other opportunities for knowledge exchange, such as webinars or training days for soil organisms identification.
Richard is a farmer at Yatesbury House Farm in Wiltshire and is passionate about developing sustainable farming methods using agricultural knowledge, science and technology. Richard spent some years farming conventionally before converting the family farm to organic methods in 1998. The farm is now 650ha together with a pedigree Aberdeen Angus suckler herd of some 280 animals, producing wheat, oats, barley and beans, finished cattle and breeding stock, electricity and timber. Investment in research is the key to a progressive, sustainable and secure future, our points of difference being: no ploughing since 2003; diverse ley mixtures of 32 varieties from 23 species; dynamic cattle grazing of leys; use of bio cultivations; closed farm and working Biodynamically.
Richard is also a doctoral researcher at the University of Reading working on soil regeneration, looking at high biomass rotation and its impact on soil health, weed burden and crop production.