Agriculture, the Land and the Environment – Planet Philadelphia

Mar 29, 2021

How can the use of our land, particularly for agriculture, help with environmental protection and climate change?

Listen to the interview with LC3M Director, Prof David Beerling on Planet Philadelphia’s environmental radio show. Friday 2nd April 2021.

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Innovative agricultural technologies could help meet food security and climate change emergencies

Mar 16, 2021

Scientists have proposed a range of technological options for sustainable, productive and resilient agriculture, which provide multiple routes for removing CO2 from the atmosphere to directly mitigate climate change. 

The team, led by Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and Professor Steve Long, at the University of Illinois, proposed transformations of land management and agronomic practices including innovative amendments to soils, crop management and land use to promote atmospheric CO2 removal.

The research, published in Nature Plants, proposes that innovative technologies and new crop varieties, with increased photosynthesis and resource-use-efficiency, can maximally exploit agronomic practices and soil amendments to enhance carbon storage as well as food crop yields.

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Legume trees key to supporting tropical forest growth

Mar 10, 2021

Researchers have found that nitrogen-fixing legume trees can support themselves and surrounding trees not only with increased access to nitrogen, but with other key nutrients through enhanced mineral weathering. The team, led by the University of Sheffield and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, have published their findings in the journal PNAS which provide new insights into the role of nitrogen-fixing trees in safeguarding the function of tropical forests within the biosphere.

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Research Fellow in Enhanced Rock Weathering

Jul 30, 2020

Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) is a geoengineering strategy that can help accelerate CO2 sequestration by amending soils with crushed reactive rocks to increase the rate of silicate weathering.

The Research Fellow will join the interdisciplinary Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation and will work in close collaboration with other researchers leading lab-based experiments and modelling activities.

Based at the School of Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton’s Waterfront Campus at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, the successful applicant will join us in conducting the world’s first field trials of ERW at sites in Illinois, USA, Malaysian Borneo and the UK. These large-scale trials are providing vital new constraints on the rates of rock weathering in different agricultural settings, and hence the extent to which ERW can mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions.

You will have a PhD or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in Geochemistry and will have considerable experience in the collection and chemical analysis of environmental samples (soils, drainage waters, rivers), well-developed self and time-management skills and the ability to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing are essential.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Prof. Rachael James ( or Dr Christopher Pearce (
Applications close: 21st August 2020. 

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Climate news quiz: Rock dust and heat-ready cities

Jul 29, 2020

Test your knowledge about ways the climate is changing.

Time to see if you’ve been paying attention to The Washington Post’s climate-related coverage. If you have, this quiz should be an easy A.


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‘Climate urgency’ may dampen public acceptance of carbon dioxide removal technologies

Jul 28, 2020

Researchers from the Understanding Risk research group at the School of Psychology have carried out a pioneering study to gauge UK and US public acceptance on the use of carbon dioxide removal technologies to tackle climate change.

The study is in response to the suggestion that the UK must deploy novel approaches to removing C0from the atmosphere if it is to meet its commitment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Novel approaches include the use of carbon dioxide removal technology such as enhanced terrestrial weathering for which public and societal acceptance is critical.

Principal investigator for the study, Professor Nick Pidgeon of the School of Psychology said: “I have worked for almost 20 years on the difficult challenge of how to engage publics ‘upstream’ with novel and emerging environmental technologies about which they may know very little, and in order to promote more socially sensitive environmental science and policy. It is therefore very pleasing to see the methodological and intellectual foundations of that work reflected in the outcomes of this important research effort to develop novel ways of addressing climate change”.

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Volcanoes can help to combat climate change

Jul 27, 2020

Spreading volcanic rock dust on farmland sounds a highly unlikely way to help to combat climate change, but studies show crushed rocks can soak up carbon dioxide from the air, and as an added benefit may also boost crop yields.

Volcanic basalt rock is one of the most common rocks in the world. As the rock weathers naturally it absorbs carbon dioxide, turns into carbonate that eventually ends up as limestone and permanently locks away the carbon. Grinding the rock up into dust simply increases its surface area and accelerates the natural process of absorbing CO2.

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Farming Today: Green recovery and the budget, Rock dust and soil, clean river swimming

Jul 9, 2020

Prof. David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change, takes part in an interview with BBC Radio Four’s Farming Today programme to discuss the potential for large-scale CO2 removal via enhanced rock weathering with croplands, published in Nature.

Listen in at 03:40

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Applying rock dust to farmlands could suck up 2 billion tons of CO2

Jul 8, 2020

“Carbon dioxide drawdown strategies that can scale up and are compatible with existing land uses are urgently required to combat climate change, alongside deep and sustained emissions cuts,” said Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation.

Enhanced weathering has the advantage of being a relatively accessible technique, said Professor Steven Banwart, a partner in the study.

“The practice of spreading crushed rock to improve soil pH is commonplace in many agricultural regions worldwide. The technology and infrastructure already exist to adapt these practices to utilise basalt rock dust. This offers a potentially rapid transition in agricultural practices to help capture CO2 at large scale.”

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A sprinkle of rock dust could help avoid catastrophic climate change

Jul 8, 2020

Spreading rock dust on cropland around the world could save around a tenth of humanity’s “carbon budget”, the amount of carbon dioxide we can afford to emit without triggering catastrophic levels of global warming.

Earth’s three biggest CO2 emitters – China, the US and India – have the most to gain from the strategy, which is known as enhanced rock weathering (ERW). Rocks naturally absorb CO2, but ERW accelerates the process by grinding them up to increase their surface area.

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