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Dr Robin Walker

Researcher (Agronomic Systems)
Crop Science
Crop and Soil Systems

Research interests 

  • Developing sustainable organic and non-organic cropping systems with an aim to deliver benefits not only to the farmer, but to the wider environment.
  • Trial management and provision of data, often for modelling purposes, particularly from long-term rotation trials at Craibstone (SRUC Aberdeen). These include Woodlands field (Old Rotation started in 1922 investigating fertilizer impacts across a 6 year crop rotation; pH Rotation started in 1961 investigating effect of pH gradient (pH4.5 to 7.5) across an eight year crop rotation) and also Tulloch rotation trial started in 1991 investigating the impact of different organically managed rotations (2 stocked; 2 stockless) on crop yield, quality and soil parameters.
  • Development of systems incorporating legumes into rotations either as monocrops, but particularly when intercropped, with potential for multi-end use e.g. protein (grain or silage) or as AD feedstock.
  • Crop species and variety diversity and its role in crop mixtures, rotations and agricultural ecosystems. This covers pest, weed and disease issues, biodiversity aspects, GHG emissions as well as nutrient use efficiency of the systems (mostly N and P, but also trace elements).
  • Crops with non-food uses (energy, industrial, pharmaceutical), as well as energy balance / LCA issues linked to these and the systems discussed.

Selected research projects

  • WP2.1.8 Novel Crops (Scottish Government)
    Development of high-protein and biomass crops, novel perennial crops and native species  using novel cropping strategies to empower the Scottish bioeconomy.
  • WP2.3.8 Alternative approaches to sustainable land management (Scottish Government)
    Increasing productivity through holistic, interdisciplinary and systems based approaches using appropriate soil and land management, greater resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses and improved resource use efficiency.
  • Climate Café (EU)
    The objective is to develop approaches that increase the adaptability of European cropping systems to climate change.
  • Legume Futures (EU)
    The aim is to develop the use of legumes in cropping systems to improve the economic and environmental performance of European agriculture.
  • Target-P: Improving the sustainability of phosphorus use in arable farming (Defra Link)
    To develop novel targeted P fertiliser technologies and soil-P acquisition strategies that will enable arable crops to be grown on soils having a lower P status without sacrificing crop yield, crop quality or farm profits.


  • Module co-ordinator for the Crop Production Unit of the Organic Farming PGDip/MSc course based at Craibstone, SRUC Aberdeen.
  • Provide guest lecturer support on request by colleagues into several crop and environment modules.

PhD students

  • Samantha Coyle
    Joint SRUC/Nottingham University studentship: “Improving phosphorus (P) use efficiency in UK arable and grassland agricultural systems”. Oct 2014 – Mar 2018
  • Anastasia Fountouli
    Joint SRUC/Aberdeen University studentship: “Are pH driven shifts to soil’s physical structure caused by biological or chemical processes?” Oct 2013 – Oct 2016

Selected publications

  • Moritz Reckling, Göran Bergkvist, Christine A. Watson, Frederick L. Stoddard, Peter M. Zander, Robin L. Walker, Aurelio Pristeri, Ion Toncea and Johann Bachinger (2016) Trade-Offs between Economic and Environmental Impacts of Introducing Legumes into Cropping Systems. Front. Plant Sci., 23 May 2016.
  • J. Heppell, S. Payvandic, P. Talboys, K. C. Zygalakisb, D. Langton, R. Sylvester-Bradley, R. Walker, D.L. Jones, T. Roose (2016) Use of a coupled soil-root-leaf model to optimise phosphate fertiliser use efficiency in barley (online Plant & Soil, pp 1-17.
  • Pappa, V.A., Rees, R.M., Walker, R.L., Baddeley, J.A. & Watson, C.A. (2012) Legumes intercropped with spring barley contribute to increased biomass production and carry-over effects. The Journal of Agricultural Science 150,584-594.
  • Walker, R.L., Edwards, A.C., Maskell, P., Watson, C.A., Rees, R.M., Knox, O.G.G.,  Stockdale, E.A. (2012) The effect of co-composted cabbage and ground phosphate rock (Gafsa) on the early growth and P uptake of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 175:595-603.
  • Watson, C.A., Topp, C.F.E, Baddeley, J.A., Ball, B.C., Edwards, A.C., Rees, R.M., Walker, R.L. & Younie, D.  (2011) Influence of ley duration on nitrogen use by the subsequent cereal crop (spring oats) in an organically managed long-term crop rotation experiment. Journal of Organic Agriculture 1(3):147-159.

See all of Dr Robin Walker's publications.

Dr Robin Walker

Research Agronomist

Address: Crop & Soils Systems, SRUC Aberdeen Campus, Craibstone Estate, Aberdeen AB21 9YA

Telephone: 01224 711 209

Fax: 01224 711 293