College of Agriculture and Bioresources

Research Area(s)

  • Soil nitrogen dynamics
  • Synchrotron based techniques
  • Pulse crop agronomy
  • Impact of agrichemicals on biological dinitrogen fixation

Brief Biography

Fran is the Associate Dean (Academic) in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, and a Professor in the Department of Soil Science. She holds a Ph.D. in soil microbiology from the U of S and maintains an active research program in the area of soil nitrogen dynamics and pulse crop agronomy.


Soil Science

Other Affiliations/positions

School of the Environment and Sustainability (Associate)

Research Interests

Fran’s research examines soil nitrogen (N) dynamics, and the factors affecting bioavailable soil N pools. We use synchrotron-based techniques (XANES) to elucidate the nature of the various soil N pools. One aspect of my research deals with pulse crop agronomy, with an emphasis on dinitrogen (N2) fixation. This includes the development of effective inoculation strategies, the impact of agrichemicals on biological N2–fixation and the contribution of N2–fixation to the N-economy of pulse crop rotations. Related research includes the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and glomalin-related soil protein on C- and N-cycling and soil quality, and the potential benefits of AMF inoculants in pulse crop production; microbial agents for the biocontrol of Aphanomyces in pulse production; and the impact of intercropping on dinitrogen fixation. Current research includes the use of enhanced efficiency fertilizer technologies for improved N use efficiency in various cropping systems. Research is conducted in western Canada, with linkages to Hawassa University, Ethiopia.

Areas of specialization

  • Soil nitrogen (N) dynamics soil organic matter bioavailable soil N pools soil quality
  • biological dinitrogen fixation biofertilizers
  • GHG emissions soil quality and sustainability nitrogen use efficiency
  • N- and C- XANES


  • Ph.D. (Soil Science), University of Saskatchewan
  • M.Sc. (Soil Science), University of Manitoba
  • B.Sc. (Agriculture), University of Manitoba

Selected Publications

Purton, K, D.J. Pennock and F.L. Walley. 2015. Will changes in climate and land use affect soil organic matter composition? Evidence from an ecotonal climosequence. Geoderma 253-254:48-60.

Walley, F., A.W. Gillespie, A.B. Adetona, J.J. Germida, and R.E. Farrell. 2014. Manipulation of rhizosphere organisms to enhance glomalin production and C sequestration: Promises and pitfalls. Can. J. Plant Sci. 94:1-8.

Walley, F. 2013. Establishing a symbiotic relationship between legume plants and rhizobial bacteria. Prairie Soils and Crops Journal 6:99-106.

Jin, H., J.J. Germida and F.L. Walley. 2013. Impact of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inoculants on subsequent arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colonization in pot-cultured field pea (Pisum sativum L.). Mycorrhiza 23:45-59 (DOI 10.1007/s00572-012-0448-9).

Gillespie, A.W., R.E. Farrell, F.L. Walley, A.R.S. Ross, P. Leinweber, K.-U. Eckhardt, T.Z. Regier, and R.I.R. Blyth, 2011. Glomalin-related soil protein contains non-mycorrhizal-related heat-stable proteins, lipids and humic acids. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 43:766-777. rsity of Manitoba), Ph.D. (Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan)