Soils at Manaaki Whenua

Our research

Our research looks at the complex inter-relationships that control the response of soils and landscapes to climatic and human-induced pressures, evaluating current risk, and offering sustainable land management and land use options.

Our current research capabilities include:

  • Soil mapping and land capability assessment
  • Soil health, biology and toxicity assessment and management
  • Soil carbon, nitrogen and trace element cycling, including contaminant loss
  • Soil water storage and movement
  • Soil chemistry and physics laboratories, including in-field sensing technologies
  • Modelling of soil processes at scales from the soil profile to the nation
  • Management of the nationally significant National Soils Data Repository (NSDR) and S-map Online website

We have recently greatly expanded our suite of soils research programmes. This has been made possible by funding from MBIE and MPI for new multi-year projects. As shown in the figure below, these new programmes will help us answer some of the big questions in soil research and will have impacts for generations to come.

MWLR Soils Research

MWLR Soils Research (click to enlarge)

The strong links between these programmes and farming industry groups will ensure the knowledge generated will be used to help farmers in their ongoing efforts to reduce the impacts of management practices on the environment.

Explore the following pages to get more specific information on the soils research we do:

  • Soils & Landscapes area
    Our research looks at the complex inter-relationships that control the response of soils and landscapes to climatic and human-induced pressures. The team evaluates current risks, and offers sustainable land use and natural resource allocation options.

  • Characterising Land Resources
    This portfolio is responsible for the stewardship of data and infrastructure associated with our nationally significant land and soil databases, including the acquisition of new data. Our role is to enhance the quality, accuracy, spatial coverage, and accessibility of soil and land information.

  • Managing Land and Water
    This research enables industries and land managers to improve the alignment between land use and key environmental social, economic, and cultural goals. Strategies to minimise, buffer or mitigate adverse environmental impacts resulting from the use and development of land (e.g. agriculture, tourism, energy production, mining, timber, transport) both help to maintain a comparative advantage in competitive global markets, and improve the health of our land and water assets.

  • National Land Resource Centre
    The National Land Resource Centre (NLRC) was a collaborative science centre that existed from 2012 until 2018. NLRC was established by Manaaki Whenua in response to the 2010 CRI Taskforce recommendations. These recommendations included calls for a move from a contestable operating environment into one in which CRIs worked collaboratively to solve national science challenges, and to focus on creating maximum research uptake and therefore impact, by working strategically and in partnership with a wider range of stakeholders. The science of the land resource seemed the perfect place to seek transformation.