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Science AMA Series: I’m Claire Horrocks, a Soil Scientist! Soil matters. Fact! Poor land management can damage soils. I‘m working in Colombia and Kenya to develop methods to assess and improve soil health under tropical grasslands. AMA!
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Hi reddit! I became a scientist because I wanted to make a difference. I had prepared myself for a life of numbers, statistics and working in a lab. Never did I imagine that I would be travelling to places like Colombia and Kenya, and getting to meet other researchers from around the globe who are also pretty keen to make a difference. But this is exactly what I am doing in my current role as a Newton Fund (http://www.newtonfund.ac.uk/) Postdoc at Rothamsted Research (http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/) . The human population is growing and feeding everyone whilst limiting environmental damage is a huge challenge we face. Key to tackling the problem is understanding and managing soil. Soil is amazing and complex! It has many essential functions, including regulating water flow and water quality; storing carbon so less of it reaches the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide; and supporting above and below ground biodiversity, which includes the plants we rely on for food. I am working in collaboration with scientists at the Centre for Tropical Agriculture (https://ciat.cgiar.org/) in Cali, Colombia and Nairobi, Kenya, to understand how growing different combinations of plants effects soil function in grazed grasslands. This will help us determine the best plant varieties and farming practices to ensure farmers in the tropics grow grass to rear healthy livestock, and produce sufficient nutritious food with less damage to the environment. Read more about my work and find out what life as a globe-trotting soil scientist is like in a recent blog entry (http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/day-life-research-scientist/day-life-dr-claire-horrocks). My fingers are tired now from all the typing so I am going to head off but I have really enjoyed answering all the questions and reading some of the great discussions that have developed. Sorry I couldn’t respond to all the comments I will try to pop back later to answer some more , bye for now. Claire