Dr Bruce Ball

Reader in Soil Science
Soil Science and Systems
Crop and Soil Systems

Research interests 

  • My research interests are in soil physics, mainly soil structure and soil gases, soil management and the links between soils and society.
  • Soil structure determines soil porosity which provides the space for soil life. I have worked extensively on the description of soil structure, the modelling of soil porosity and the emissions of greenhouse gases (mainly nitrous oxide) from soil.
  • I develop visual and porosity-based descriptions of soil quality e.g. VESS.
  • My research is applied to agroecology, organic farming, compaction and minimum tillage.
  • I also explore the metaphysical and ethical connections between soil, agriculture and communities with a view to improving food security by empowering farmers and raising public awareness of soil.
  • I have links with Brazil, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand on visual evaluation of soil quality, on soil recovery from compaction damage and on mitigation of greenhouse gases fluxes from soils.

Selected research projects

  • Soil management impact on soil functions
    Scottish Government WP 2.3.4.
  • Alternative approaches to sustainable land management
    Scottish Government WP 2.3.8.
  • Effect of Soil Structure and Field Drainage on Water Quality and Flood Risk
    Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW).
  • Valuing Your Soils. Practical guidance for Scottish farmers
    Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW).

Selected publications

  • Ball, B.C., Guimarães, R.M.L., Cloy, J. M., Hargreaves, P. Shepherd, T.G. and McKenzie, B. M. 2016. Visual soil evaluation: a summary of some applications and possible future developments. Soil & Tillage Research (in press) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2016.07.006
  • Ball, B. C., Batey, T., Munkholm, L. J., Guimarães, R. M. L., Boizard, H., McKenzie, D. C., Peigné, J., Tormena, C. A. and Hargreaves, P. 2015. The numeric visual evaluation of subsoil structure (SubVESS) under agricultural production. Soil and Tillage Research 148: 85-96.
  • Ball, B.C., Hallett, P.D., Wheatley, R., Griffiths, B., Walker, R.L., Rees, R.M., Watson, C.A., Gordon, H., McKenzie, B.M., Nevison, I.M. and Topp, C.F.E. 2014. Nitrous oxide emissions and minimum tillage, compost application and organic farming. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 189: 171-180.
  • Ball, B.C. and Munkholm, L. R. (eds) 2015. Visual Soil Evaluation: Realising Potential Crop Production with Minimum Environmental Impact. CABI, Wallingford, UK, 168 pp.
  • Ball, B.C. 2015. The Landscape Below: Soil, Spirituality and Agriculture. Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow, UK.

See all of Dr Bruce Ball's publications.

Dr Bruce Ball

Senior Researcher

Address: Crop & Soils Systems, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4379

Fax: 0131 535 4144

E-mail: bruce.ball@sruc.ac.uk