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Dr Joanna Cloy

Soil Science and Systems
Crop and Soil Systems

Research interests 

  • Agro-environmental science
  • Soil science
  • Visual evaluation of soil structure
  • Soil quality and health
  • Soil organic matter
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils
  • Biogeochemical cycles
  • Environmental geochemistry
  • Chemical characterisation of soils
  • Biochar properties in soil
  • Heavy metal contaminants
  • Environmental archives of contamination and global change

I am a soil scientist. My current research focuses on agricultural soil systems under different management activities, assessing soil greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation, soil structure and quality, carbon storage and stability and nutrient dynamics. I completed my PhD in Environmental Geochemistry at the University of Edinburgh in 2006.

Selected research projects:

  • Scotch Whisky Association
    ‘Scotch Whisky peat extraction activities: assessment of carbon footprint’
  • CREW ‘Pathways of Diffuse Pollution to the Water Environment’
    State of knowledge review and communicating best practice.
  • BBSRC ‘Sustainable economic and ecological grazing systems - learning from innovative practitioners’Evaluation of the agronomic and social impacts of the Pasture for Life certified approach to grazing management and its potential as the basis of a sustainable GB-wide system.
  • AHDB Soil Biology and Soil Health Partnership
    Measuring soil health and soil biology and the development of a soil health scorecard.
  • Scottish Government Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division Strategic Research Programme: Theme 2 ‘Productive and Sustainable Land Management and Rural Economies’WPs 2.3.4 (Sustainable soil and water management), 2.3.5 (Improving existing greenhouse gas reduction measures (lead for objective 3)), 2.3.8 (Alternative approaches to sustainable land management) and 2.3.6 (Novel greenhouse gas reduction measures).
  • CREW ‘Valuing Your Soils’
    Practical guidance brochures, videos and awareness raising workshops for Scottish farmers (available from


I have a Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching.

Postgraduate teaching: I am a lecturer, core course (Atmospheric Quality and Global Change) co-ordinator, moderator, personal tutor and MSc dissertation project supervisor for SRUC and University of Edinburgh MSc/PG dip programmes. I deliver teaching mainly for the 'Environmental Protection and Management' and 'Soils and Sustainability' programmes.

Undergraduate teaching: I am a lecturer for the University of Edinburgh’s Global Academy Agricultural Science BSc programmes and a dissertation research supervisor for various SRUC BSc (hons) students.

PhD students


  • Kirsty Paterson ‘Do UK grasslands have the ability to sequester more carbon?’, Co-supervisor. Dr. Sarah Buckingham (Principal supervisor, SRUC), Prof. Bob Rees (SRUC) and Prof. Elizabeth Baggs (University of Edinburgh).


  • Andrew Innes ‘The Sustainable Remediation of Abandoned Lead Mining Sites’, Co-supervisor. Dr. Jennifer Carfrae (Principal supervisor, SRUC), Dr. Barbra Harvie (SRUC) and Dr. Margaret Graham (University of Edinburgh).
  • Philip Stack ‘Carbon cycling in Scottish upland grassland soils’, Principal supervisor. Co-supervisors: Prof Bryan Griffiths (SRUC), Dr John Holland (SRUC) and Dr Saran Sohi (University of Edinburgh).
  • Gemma Miller. ‘The impacts of agricultural land management on soil carbon stabilisation’, September 2012-2016. Principal Supervisor. Co-supervisors: Prof Bob Rees, Prof Bryan Griffiths (SRUC) and Dr Saran Sohi (University of Edinburgh).
  • Kim Parmer. ‘Impact of bioenergy crops on soil greenhouse gas emission and soil carbon conservation’, September 2012-2015. Co-supervisor. Dr Saran Sohi (Principal supervisor, University of Edinburgh) and Dr Niall McNamara (CEH).
  • Nicola Winning. ‘Greenhouse gas emissions from Scottish farming systems’, April 2011-2014. Co-supervisor. Prof Bob Rees (Principal supervisor, SRUC) and Dr Saran Sohi (University of Edinburgh).
  • Nancy Burns. ‘Stability of soil organic matter and the temperature sensitivity of soil respiration’, September 2007-2011. Principal Supervisor. Co-supervisors: Dr David Reay (University of Edinburgh), Prof Keith Smith (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Wilfred Otten (Abertay University).

Selected publications

Recent selected refereed academic journal publications

  • Thorman R.E, Nicholson F., Topp C.F.E., Bell M.J., Cardenas L.M., Chadwick D.R., Cloy J.M., Misselbrook T., Rees R.M., Watson C.J. and Williams J.R., 2020, Towards country-specific nitrous oxide emission factors for manures applied to arable and grassland soils in the UK, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 4, 82,
  • Miller G.A., Rees R.M., Griffiths B.S. and Cloy J.M., 2019, Isolating the effect of soil properties on agricultural soil greenhouse gas emissions under controlled conditions, Soil Use & Management [Accepted].
  • Hargreaves P.R., Baker K., Graceson A., Bonnett S., Ball B.C. and Cloy J.M., 2019, Soil compaction effects on grassland silage yields under different levels of compaction over three years, European Journal of Agronomy, 109, 125916.
  • Miller G.A., Rees R.M., Griffiths B.S., Ball B.C. and Cloy J.M., 2019, The sensitivity of soil organic carbon pools to land management varies depending on former tillage practices, Soil & Tillage Research, 189, 236-242.
  • Fitton N., Datta A., Cloy J.M., Rees R.M., Topp C.F.E., Bell M.J., Cardenas L.M., Williams J., Smith K., Thorman R., McGeough K., Kunhert M., Hastings A., Anthony S., Chadwick D. and Smith P., 2017, Modelling spatial and inter-annual variations of nitrous oxide emissions from UK cropland and grasslands using DailyDayCent, Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 250, 1-11.
  • Ball B.C., Guimarães R.M.L., Cloy J.M., Hargreaves P.R., Shepherd T.G. and McKenzie B.M., 2017, Visual soil evaluation: a summary of some applications and potential developments for agriculture, Soil & Tillage Research, 173, 114-124.

Book chapters

  • Cloy J.M. and Smith K.A., 2018, Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks. In DellaSala D.A. and Goldstein M.I. (eds.) Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, 2, 391-400. Elsevier, Oxford.
  • Cloy J.M., Ball B.C. and Shepherd T. G., 2015, Evaluating land quality for carbon storage, greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient leaching. In Visual Soil Evaluation: Realizing Potential Crop Production with Minimum Environmental Impact, (ed. Ball B.C. and Munkholm L.J.), CABI Publishing, Wallingford.
  • Cloy J.M., Rees R.M., Smith K.A., Goulding K., Smith P., Waterhouse A. and Chadwick D.R., 2012, Impacts of Agriculture upon Greenhouse Gas Budgets. In Environmental Impacts of Modern Agriculture, (ed. Hester R.E. and Harrison R.M.), Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, Issue 34.

Publications for farmers

See all of Dr Joanna Cloy's publications.

Dr Joanna Cloy


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

Telephone: 0131 535 4155