David Burton

Research Professor


Email: dburton@dal.ca
Phone: 902.890.0647
Mailing Address: 
Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences
Agricultural Campus
PO Box 550
Truro, NS, B2N 5E3

Memberships and Affiliations

  • President-Elect Canadian Society of Soil Science
  • Associate Editor Canadian Journal of Soil Science
  • Member of Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists
  • Member of the Soil Science Society of America

Greenhouse Gas Analysis Lab

This lab provides analytical support for the measurement of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) in stored samples. This provides a cost-effective means of measuring greenhouse gas emissions from a wide range of ecosystems.

What do I Teach?

•I teach the undergraduate courses: SOIL 2000 – Introduction to Soil Science, SOIL 3000 – Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management, and ENVA 4006 – Air, Climate, and Climate Change.
•I teach the graduate courses: AGRI 5250 – Soil Microbiology, AGRI 5450 – Environmental Soil Chemistry, AGRI 6700 – Advanced Research Methods
•I instruct a non-credit Nutrient Management Certificate
•I am an Investigator in the NSERC CREATE Climate Smart Soils project
•I lead the development of a Certificate in Sustainable Soil Management

What do I Research?

My research examines the role of the soil environment in influencing the nature and extent of microbial metabolism in soil.  It focuses on processes in the nitrogen cycle and their implications for soil fertility and environmental impact. My current research examines the production and consumption of greenhouse gases in natural and agricultural landscapes, the development of tools for the measurement of soil nitrogen supply to plants, influence of climate on soil biological processes, and the assessment of soil health.

•You can find a list of my publications on Google Scholar
•I am the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Soil Management
•Derek Lynch and I established the Atlantic Soil Health Lab
•For the past two decades my lab manager (Drucie Janes) and I have provided analytical support for multiple research projects examining greenhouse gas emissions through the Greenhouse Gas Lab

How do I Serve?

I am a strong believer in the importance of consideration of the state of the soil resource in land management decisions. I have been active over the last three decades in various expert panels and committees that attempt to bring science to policies relating to land use. Currently I am involved in the following groups:

•I am a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Soil Science
•I was a member of Farmer’s for Climate Solutions Task Force for a Resilient Recovery in Agriculture
•Member of Équiterre’s Climate Farming Advisory Committee
•I serve on Soil Conservation Council of Canada’s Soil Carbon Roadmap Advisory Board
•I am a member of Fertilizer Canada’s 4R Research Network and 4R Science Panel

What I do

Do give you a sense of what I do, please clink on the following links to recent presentations/interviews relating to soil management and my work

Why Soil? , Faculty of Agriculture Marketing Campaign
•Life Under our Feet, Presentation to the Royal Winter Fair, 2016
•Our Nitrogen Problem, Presentation to PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association, 2016
•Soil Health our Climate Change Solution, Presentation to the McGill Sustainability Symposium, 2020
•Is regenerative farming hope for a hotter planet?, What on Earth, CBC, 2020
•Measurement-based tools to quantify soil nitrogen supply and verify right rate recommendations, Presentation to the Canadian Society of Soil Science, 2021
CBC Radio Main Street. April 13, 2022: Soil scientist David Burton explains how to make Nova Scotia's soils more healthy
CBC Radio Main Street. April 14, 2022: 'Soil is becoming sexy': What healthy soil can do to help meet climate goals
•Soil Health & Nitrogen Management with Dr. Burton, Presentation to the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority
The Stew Podcast: S01: E09 - Dirt and Soil
The Role of Soil Management in the Path to Net Zero