Home > Research > Researchers > John Quinton

Current Postgraduate Research Students

John Quinton supervises 6 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

Student research profiles

Show all »

View graph of relations

Professor John Quinton


John Quinton

Lancaster University

LEC Building



Research overview

John is passionate about soil, the brown gold that underpins our very survival on the planet, but which most people take for granted.

He has spent the last 30 years working on understanding and predicting the soil erosion processes that degrade soil functions, soil monitoring, how we can protect soils better and how soils can be managed to mitigate flooding and  the pollution of surface waters. He is a member of LEC's Sustaiable Soils Research Group.

Published research

His published work includes over 100 refereed journal papers (see link above), including one of the most cited papers on soil erosion describing the European Soil Erosion model (EUROSEM). More recent highly cites papers examine the global linkages between soil erosion and the cycling of nutrients and carbon, the effects of vegetation on soil physical properties,  new methods for monitoring and tracing soil erosion and a new body of work exploring the lifespan of soils.

Liking to maintain an applied element to his research, John has been working on solutions to soil and water protection. These include an investigation into the impact of soil management on soil and nutrient losses and the use of wetlands to trap sediment before it reaches surface waters.   

John has received funding for his work from:

  • the National Environmental Research Council (NERC),
  • the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • the European Community

Current research

John’s current research projects include 

  • the NERC /NSF funded Signals in the soil project focussing on understanding trajectories of soil change through new sensors, communication systems and machine learning
  • the ReDeal project working on the restoration of degraded grasslands in Africa
  • The H2020 funded Tudi project focused on improving soil and water management in Europe and China
  • The SOPLAS project investigating the fate and behaviour of micro and macro plastics in soil
  • UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre For Mineral-based Construction Materials


The PhD students he supervises work on a range of topics related to soil functioning, diffuse pollution, soil formation and soil degradation and you can meet the research group here


John led the sucessful Research Evaluation Framework 2021 submission for LEC. He has acted as a research evaluator and review panel member,  both nationally and internationally and is currently Executive Editor of the European Geosciences Union’s open access journal SOIL.


John's teaching includes:

Outside interests

When he is not working on Soil Science John likes to deploy soil through the medium of paint (most of the earth pigments are derived from soil!).  His paintings draw inspiration from the natural environment, and particularly the woods and mountains close to Lancaster.

Related content

See John’s video on Soil Security: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApMqeK6qwYY



PhD supervision

PhD students conduct research in my areas of research interest and prospective students should contact me to discuss their ideas.


John is a Professor of Soil Science at Lancaster University, specialising in soil erosion, soil sustainability and the transport of contaminants in overland flow and holds degrees from Reading and Cranfield University. He was one of the developers of the European Soil Erosion model (EUROSEM), which is used for erosion prediction world-wide, and led the Landcare Group of the National Soil Resources Institute before coming to Lancaster in 2002. He executive editor of the EGU- Copernicus journal SOIL (to be launched in 2014),  is science secretary of the European Geophysical Union's Soil System Sciences Division. He has acted as an evaluator for Defra and the EC and has published over 75 refereed journal papers.

PhDs Examined

Abraham, N. 1999. Hydrological Process Modelling of Tropical Lateritic Hillslopes. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. PhD.

Brazier, R.E. 2000. An investigation into a GIS based approach for modelling hillslope soil erosion in England and Wales. Lancaster University. PhD.

Ampontuah, E.O. 2004. Model input resolution effects on the prediction of sediment and nutrient transport from agricultural fields. Reading University. PhD.

Meuller, E. 2004. Modelling geochemical flows in a desert environment. Kings College London. PhD.

Martin, G. 2006. Modelling hillslope-channel coupling and sediment delivery in semi-arid areas. University of Bristol. PhD.

Rothwell, J. 2006. Fluvial export of heavy metals from contaminated and eroding peatlands, southern Pennines, UK. University of Manchester. PhD.

Jonczyk, J. 2007. Processes leading to nutrient pollution at the field and sub-catchment scale. University of Newcastle. PhD.

Fox, J.E. 2008. Bioengineering technology of quick grass establishment for erosion control on railway batters. University of Queensland. MSc.

Mantovani, D. 2010. Critical evaluation of Compost Erosion Control Blankets (CECBs) against conventional Best Management Practices. Cranfield University MSc.

Zheng, T. 2011. Mathematical modelling of soil erosion by rainfall and shallow overland flow. Loughborough University. PhD.

Cambell, J. 2013. Assessing phosphorus mitigation strategies in agricultural catchments. University of Ulster. PhD.

Puttock, A. 2013. Vegetation change and water, sediment and carbon dynamics in semi-arid environments. Exeter University. PhD.

Lewis, T. Soil erosion and seedbank redistribution. University of Dundee. 2014


PhD Supervisions Completed

Stark, H. 1994. Wetland risk assessment. Cranfield University. PhD (Supervisor)

Audu, I. 1999. Development and application of a runoff model for water harvesting in North East Nigeria. Cranfield University. PhD (Joint supervisor).

Archer, N.A.L. 2000.  Water use in two-phase mosaic vegetation. Cranfield University. PhD (Supervisor).

Miller, N. 2005. Mobilisation of phosphorus from soil surfaces. Cranfield University. PhD (Supervisor for first two years before coming to Lancaster).

Yussoff, W.A. 2008. Effect of zeolites on Soil Characteristics, leaching and surface pollutant loses from soils. PhD (Supervisor).

Buckingham, S. 2008. Carbon release from catchments. PhD. (Joint supervisor with Hamilton-Taylor and Tipping CEH).

Ball, A. 2008. Carbon export from degraded and intact blanket peat in the North Pennines, UK’. MPhil. (Joint supervisor with Ostle CEH).

Kruegar, T. 2009. Uncertainties in modelling agricultural phosphorus transfers (Joint supervisor with Freer, Bristol).

Pryce, O. 2011. Development of sediment and phosphorus tracers . PhD.(Supervisor).

Shanahan, P. 2013. Assessment of heavy farm traffic soil compaction using non-invasive and non-destructive techniques (Joint supervision with Binley and James)

Konadu, D. 2013. Evidence-based environmental policy development: the case of soil carbon sequestration in UK (Joint supervisor with Jarvis)

Current Teaching

John currently convenes a course in Soil Science, and contributes to courses in Sustainable Soil Management, Environmental Field Skills and Environmental Issues for the 21st century

Research Grants

Long term, lanrge scale simulation of macronutrient cycles

Simulating macronutrient cycles across the UK.

 In collaboration with CEH, BGS, Liverpool, Rothamsted


Funded by NERC 2012-2015


Soil erosion monitoring pilot

 Using new and established methodologies to monitor soil erosion across England and Wales

 In collaboration  with Exeter University, BGS, Cranfield and Manchester University.

Funded by Defra 2013-2016

The impact of tractor wheelings on soil structure and biogeochemical processes  

This project aims understand how tractor wheelings impact on soil structure andfim




how this effects biogeochemical cycling and how these effects may be mitigated against.

It is a collaborative project between Lancaster University, ADAS and a large number of industrial partners. It is funded by the Defra Arable LINK


Mitigation of phosphorus and sediment 2  

This project aims to develop and cost ways of controlling the losses of sediment and phosphorus in overland flow from arable agriculture.

MOPS 2 will focus on the use of ponds and wetlands and the control of erosion in spring crops.

It is a collaborative project between Lancaster University, the Allerton Trust, ADAS and Reading University and isfunded by Defra


Mitigation of phosphorus and sediment 1  

This project aims to develop and cost ways of controlling the losses of sediment and phosphorus in overland flow from arable agriculture.

It is a collaborative project between Lancaster University, ADAS and Reading University and isfunded by Defra

Completed 2008

MOPS website

Multi-dimentional soil erosion:experiments and modelling

This project is investigating the fundamental processes controlling the transport of contaminants in overland flow and is developing new ways of modelling their movement.

The project is a collaboration between Loughborough University and Lancaster University.


Project Web site


View all (191) »

View all (6) »