September 2018: An Update from Dan

‘They think it’s all over … it is now!’ Kenneth Wolstenholme (1966)

As I write this under a thick, ominously grim sky, it’s not too difficult to associate Kenneth’s words with the British summer. Days are waning, colours are fading and the chances of one more ‘final minute’ heatwave are dwindling. A couple of weeks ago, when I returned to Lancaster after some time away, I detected a subtle fall in temperature and a resurgence of the howling wind. ‘That’s the full time whistle for summer,’ I said to myself. ‘I think it’s all over.’ Well, after a damp and dreary weekend, it certainly is now! Yes, Summer has played its ninety days – fairly consistently this year, I would say – but it now leaves the pitch and on comes Autumn: what a transformative player he is! But as Summer makes its way down the tunnel, let us pause and replay some of the exciting moments from the last ninety days.

Of course, it’s almost ninety days since the beginning of the World Cup itself! And despite the unmatched faculties of our young Harry Kane, there is one particular goal even he would find difficult to score: a Sustainable Development Goal. When it comes to finding the back of the net for Zero Hunger, Clean Water and Life on Land, perhaps we should look no further than our own team of talented soil scientists. Last week, Lancaster University hosted the BSSS Annual Conference where over 50 Early Career Researchers discussed and deliberated how their work is valuable and relevant for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I would like to congratulate all of our members who participated in this event and especially to Roisin O’Riordan (Best ECR Poster) and Dr Victoria Janes-Bassett (Best ECR Oral).

For the first time at a BSSS Annual Conference, the Early Career Researcher representatives were granted the opportunity to produce a poster presentation, showcasing the work in the network thus far and outlining our plans for the future. In attempt to sequester as many of your views and inputs as possible, we also provided you the chance to leave a comment, particularly in regards to next year’s ECR conference. Those who could not attend the event can view the poster electronically, here: and don’t forget, if you do have any comments and suggestions, you can always email me on

After the Annual Conference, a subset of the ECR community stayed on for ‘extra time’ and a special ECR social activity called the Campus Challenge. Four teams, each comprising of a mix of students from different institutions and backgrounds, set out on a trail around the campus, partaking in several soil-related (but fun) challenges. One such activity along the route was to think of ways of making the ECR experience more enjoyable; these responses have been kept and will be considered when planning ahead for future events. Thank you to all those who partook in the Campus Challenge, and a special well done to Team 3. I especially liked your response to ‘what would BSSS stand for if it didn’t stand for British Society of Soil Science’; Bombastic Swordsmen Surfing Slurry leaves the imagination quite wildly adrift!

The previous World Cup took place in Brazil (as I’m sure you know) and it was in Brazil this August when I attended the World Congress of Soil Science alongside a contingent of our Early Career Researchers. Thank you to all those who helped out on the BSSS stand. I enjoyed getting to know you more and hearing about your ideas for the society. A special ‘well done’ to those who represented both the society and Britain in the 3rd International World Judging Contest: Caleb Melenya (Kwame Nkrumah University), Georges Ndzana (Huazhong Agricultural University), Osim Enya (University of Salford) and Luke Beesley (James Hutton Institute). I also presented a special World Congress themed PEDcast from Brazil last month and you can watch this by clicking here:

Finally, I am very delighted to welcome Kirsty Elliott (Sheffield University) to our team of ECR Regional Representatives. Kirsty is our new Northern rep, so for those in the region with any comments, queries and suggestions, you can tweet her on @KirstyElliphant and email on:

And don’t forget you can contact me anytime on or @DanEvansol

Until the next time,