Rosy & Nick from Reading Uni

Rosy Scholes and Nick Buck, researchers from the University of Reading, spent a week at Wakelyns in April 2023 to undertake part of Rosy’s PhD research looking at soil health in arable agroforestry systems. Rosie came back for a follow up week in March 2024

Rosie is measuring a range of soil health indicators which will hopefully add to the growing body of evidence in favour of these beautifully rich systems.

Soils are the backbone of our food and ecological security. Soil provides food, fuel and fibre, determines the nutrient density of the food we eat, regulates water and nutrient cycles. Despite their huge importance, soils have typically been ignored in mainstream agriculture, and we’re now left with very degraded soil. As such, it’s really important to understand how agroforestry systems regenerate our soil.

Rosy and Nick conducted surveys looking for earthworms, and will look at the richness and diversity of different worm species here. Earthworms play a vital role in soil health by improving soil structure, nutrient cycling, and water infiltration, and as such are a fantastic indicator of general soil health. We’re told they found some enormous worms!

They also collected soil samples to look for fungi and bacteria and will measure soil carbon, nutrient concentrations, pH and the soil’s ability to resist erosion.

Rosy will study our soil over the next 3 years, as well as at other mature arable agroforestry sites in the UK. We’re excited to be a part of this project and will share the results as soon as they’re available. If you’re interested in finding out more, feel free to contact Rosy on