Research interests:

I am a Soil Physicist who works across disciplines to understand how biological and chemical processs interact with soil physical structure and transport properties.

Roots, fauna and microbes have considerable impact on the physical properties of soil. I use approaches from soil physics, materials science and engineering to quantify mechanical and hydrological processes that underlie the physical engineering of soil by biology. This knowledge is applied to investigate the impact of root traits on soil physical behaviour, the sustainability of agricultural production processes and the resilience of soil to external stresses.

Career history:

2011-2013 Head of Sustainable Production Theme, The James Hutton Institute

2008-2011 Head of Plant-Soil Interface Group, Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI)

1997-2008 Research Scientist, SCRI

1995-1997 Postdoctoral Scientist, Silsoe Research Institute, Silsoe, UK

1996 PhD Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham

Active research projects:

My current research has four main areas: (1) engineering of the soil physical environment by plant roots, (2) impact of soil physical conditions on microbial processes, pollutant transport and root growth, (3) biophysical resilience of soil to stresses and (4) management of soil physical conditions for crop productivity. It is underpinned by a cross-disciplinary team of staff and collaborators that includes plant scientists, soil biologists, geotechnical engineers, chemists and hydrologists.

Recent publications:

Deng, W., Hallett, PD., Jeng, D-S, Squire, GR., Toorop, PE. & Iannetta, PPM. (2015). ‘The effect of natural seed coatings of Capsella bursa-pastoris L. Medik. (shepherd’s purse) on soil-water retention, stability and hydraulic conductivity’. Plant and Soil, vol 387, no. 1-2, pp. 167-176.

Brooker, RW., Bennett, AE., Cong, W-F, Daniell, TJ., George, TS., Hallett, PD., Hawes, C., Iannetta, PPM., Jones, HG., Karley, AJ., Li, L., McKenzie, BM., Pakeman, RJ., Paterson, E., Schöb, C., Shen, J., Squire, G., Watson, CA., Zhang, C., Zhang, F., Zhang, J. & White, PJ. (2015). ‘Improving intercropping: a synthesis of research in agronomy, plant physiology and ecology’. New Phytologist, vol 206, no. 1, pp. 107-117.

Smith, JU., Fischer, A., Hallett, PD., Homans, HY., Smith, P., Abdul-Salam, Y., Emmerling, HH. & Phimister, EC. (2015). ‘Sustainable use of organic resources for bioenergy, food and water provision in rural Sub-Saharan Africa’. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol 50, pp. 903-917.

Loades, KW., Bengough, AG., Bransby, MF. & Hallett, PD. (2015). ‘Effect of root age on the biomechanics of seminal and nodal roots of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) in contrasting soil environments’. Plant and Soil, vol 395, no. 1, pp. 253-261.

Sun, B., Roberts, DM., Dennis, PG., Caul, S., Daniell, TJ., Hallett, PD. & Hopkins, DW. (2014). ‘Microbial properties and nitrogen contents of arable soils under different tillage regimes’. Soil Use & Management, vol 30, no. 1, pp. 152-159.