Gordon Spoor – soil pioneer dies

  • Very sadly Gordon Spoor died on Tuesday 4th of April in his new home in Maulden, Bedfordshire where he had been suffering from a resurgence of cancer for over a year,” writes Professor Richard Godwin FREng CEng CEnv and Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers.

The major contribution of Gordon’s professional life was serving as the Professor of Applied Soil Physics at Cranfield University at Silsoe (formerly the National College of Agricultural Engineering). It was here where his teaching, research and consultancy work in soil and water engineering and management gained him the highest national and international respect, as acknowledged by becoming the 20th Honouree in the “Drainage Hall of Fame” and Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

His work was not just in the classroom and laboratory but also in the field where he had regular contact with farmers, making significant contributions to the farming press, farmer discussion groups and conferences. He trained and stimulated many hundreds of national and international students in practical soil and water husbandry techniques, all based on sound fundamental principles.

In addition to his activities with the Institution of Agricultural Engineers, he was a former President of both the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists and the British Society of Soil Science. In more recent years, he worked closely with bodies such as Natural England, RSPB and the Environment Agency on water management issues at the interface between agriculture and natural habitats.

There have been numerous messages of condolence all focusing on the impact that he had on so many lives. The following statements from two former students reflect the sentiments of the many:

“Gordy was a great teacher and a lovely person. What he taught us about soils stood us in good stead all our working lives”.

“In maori wisdom the tōtara tree is the king of the forest, and there is one special whakatauki (traditional saying) used when respected elders pass on.

“Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui-a-Tāne.” (The tōtara tree has fallen in Tāne’s great forest.)

Nothing is more appropriate for Gordon”.

Gordon’s funeral will take place at 2.00pm on Wednesday 26th April 2023 at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Maulden, Bedfordshire, MK45 2AU and after at “The Cross Keys” in Pulloxhill, MK45 5HB.