Max Davis

Improving soil health in apple and pear orchards 

Developing sustainable agricultural systems and improving soil health are burgeoning issues in the UK and the rest of the world. Healthy soils are critical to supply nutritious food, clean water, carbon sequestration and many other ecosystem services. Moreover, they must be resilient to the challenges posed by climate change, such as drought. My project explores plant-soil interactions and how they may be beneficial to soil health. Research will take place in apple and pear orchards, in collaboration with Worldwide Fruit. Orchards with established wildflower strips, known to support pollinators and natural predators, will be studied initially. A suite of soil health indicators relevant to apple and pear orchards will be developed.

My background is focused in ecology. I gained a BSc in ecology in 2017 and an MSc in environmental management in 2018 from Aberystwyth University. My research projects focused on plant ecology, including a project on the competitive potential of a noxious weed species under future waterlogging regimes. This was followed by two short term roles, as a Plant Ecologist at The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and as a Research Assistant at NIAB EMR.