Soils at Manaaki Whenua

Our projects

We collaborate on scientific projects that address some of the big soils-related environmental challenges faced in New Zealand and Antarctica. Through the projects we seek to understand existing and emerging pressures, as well as threats to and opportunities for our soil and associated natural resources, such as water. These include land-use change, intensification, climatic pressures, legacy effects (e.g. forest clearance), and environmental protection of soils (e.g. Antarctica).

Our projects draw on the expertise and skills of our soil and informatics scientists, our soil labs, and decades of data and field sites, as well as our Manaaki Whenua colleagues who work in diverse areas of environmental science.

Explore the science projects we are currently undertaking or have undertaken in the past by clicking on a link below.

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Hot Projects

Discussing the project at Lincoln University's Ashley Dene site

Linking carbon and nitrogen cycling in lucerne: mitigating nitrogen losses and retaining soil carbon

We are investigating on-farm solutions to reduce the environmental impact of intensive irrigated pastoral agriculture while maintaining productivity and profitability.

Moakurarua Stream. Image - Les Basher

Development and application of SedNetNZ

How the SedNetNZ erosion model can be used to better understand erosion, and manage sources of sediment.

Figure 1. Craig Ross soil coring. Image - Carolyn Hedley

Monitoring changes in soil organic carbon stocks in New Zealand’s managed grasslands

A new method to monitor soil organic carbon stocks and stock changes in New Zealand’s managed grasslands, which occupy more than half the country’s total land area.

Featured Projects


Improving our knowledge of the soils on Banks Peninsula and other hilly land in New Zealand is vital to making better land use and management decisions to safeguard and enhance the benefits of the New Zealand environment.

Since 2018 Environment Canterbury has been funding MWLR to undertake soil and erosion mapping on Banks Peninsula, including the Port Hills.

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Mitigating the numerous impacts that fine sediment has in rivers requires a catchment-wide approach to reducing soil erosion.

By international standards, sediment loads in some New Zealand rivers are very high. Mitigating the numerous impacts this fine sediment has in rivers requires a catchment-wide approach to reducing soil erosion. However, the relationships between sediment load and attributes such as visual clarity and euphotic depth are poorly understood. Developing methods that allow these relationships to be quantified are necessary to assist catchment management groups to set targets for optical water quality.

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Motueka River. Image - Tom Fraser