First Soil CRC PhD thesis submission!

| Posted Oct 07,2021

We are very excited to announce that Soil CRC PhD student Xiangyu Liu from Griffith University is the first of our PhD cohort to submit his thesis!

Student Coordinator Dr Cassandra Wardle caught up with Xiangyu to discuss his achievement.

Congratulations Xiangyu! What is your thesis about?

My thesis is about the development of sensitive soil health indicators in Australia. It explores how soil microorganisms respond to compaction and drought stresses in both clay and sandy soils, and whether this could be used as a measure of soil health in sugarcane and grain systems.

What did you find?

The response of soil microorganisms to compaction is sensitive to changes in the water-filled pore space of soil, so it can provide a robust indicator for monitoring soil health.

We found that higher aggregation potential and microbial diversity in clay soils can improve resistance to environmental stresses and higher adaptation of microbial communities in sandy soils can provide a faster recovery from environmental stresses.

Importantly for farmers, practices that increase soil organic matter and the diversity of soil microbial communities could help to build soil resistance and resilience to compaction and drought stresses.

What was it like to submit your thesis?

I felt such a big relief after submitting my thesis. It was like the world became colourful again to me!

It was hard to write papers at the same time as writing my thesis, which showed me that I needed to spend more time in multitasking training!

I definitely struggled as the submission date approached. I was worried that I wasn’t working hard enough and that my thesis wouldn’t be good enough.

What are you doing now while waiting for the examiner comments?

I am focusing on three things now: publishing papers, job hunting, and doing some casual work for Professor Chen. I accumulated piles of data during my PhD, but I’ve only prepared a fraction of it for publication, so I’m spending most of my time getting those results ready to publish.

Xiangyu’s thesis is titled ‘Microbial responses to soil constraints as a measure of soil health in sugarcane and grain systems’ He is working in the Soil CRC Project ‘Evaluating soil functional resilience’ led by Dr Mehran Rezaei Rashti from Griffith University. He is completing his PhD under the supervision of Professor Chengrong Chen, Dr Lukas Van Zwieten and Dr Mehran Rezai.

Read our recent profile of Xiangyu here.