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School of Geography

Rachael Osguthorpe Rachael Osguthorpe

Contact details

Room Garstang 10.08
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

Upland soil functions under organic grazing systems

Much of the UK upland landscape is dominated by soils that are rich in organic matter and that provide diverse ecosystem services.  In particular, the UK uplands are a critical zone for water supply and for flood risk to urban areas, and as part of the UK Industrial Strategy it is critical that we understand how to enhance the ability of soils to secure our water supplies, and reduce flood vulnerability particularly in the face of climate change.  There are a growing number of organic sheep farms on UK upland soils, but it is not known whether this farming method has any impact on the soil properties and therefore on ecosystem service provision. There is potential for soil biological, physical and chemical properties to vary under organic compared with conventional sheep farming systems. In turn such changes may influence hydrological functions such as water storage and transfer, carbon storage and water quality. The differences may also vary enormously between soil types.

The project aims to improve understanding of the role of upland management in maintaining and enhancing our natural capital and delivering benefits upstream and downstream in flood and drought resilience and good water quality, so that Natural England and other policy makers and practitioners can enhance management strategies.  The approach will be experimental, involving laboratory analysis and manipulation of soil samples collected from UK upland areas under different management systems, focusing primarily on comparing differences in soil structural, hydrological and chemical properties.


Cluster & research affiliations


NERC DTP CASE studentship with Natural England


  • 2013-2017 MEnvSci Environmental Science, University of Sheffield
  • 2016-2017 Research Assistant (placement), Department of Geography, University of Sheffield


  • 2016: University of Sheffield Alice Garnett Prize for best performance in 3rd year dissertation research project
  • 2017: University of Sheffield Alice Garnett Prize for best performance in masters thesis


  • Eddey, L. and Osguthorpe, R.E. 2017. Ings Farm, Yedingham in Field Guide to the Quaternary of the Vale of Pickering. Lincoln, P, Eddey, L. Mathews, I Palmer, A, and Bateman, M. (Editors). Quaternary Research Association: London.