Soil science conference wrap-up

| Posted Jul 07,2023

Soil CRC projects took centre stage at the 2023 Soil Science Australia Conference last month, with over 20 of our researchers and PhD students presenting to over 300 delegates.

The conference kicked off with an opening address by Soil CRC Patron and National Soils Advocate, the Hon Penny Wensley, who highlighted the importance of having an independent advocate for soil health in Australia and made reference to the imminent release of the high-anticipated National Soils Action Plan 2023.

An important focus for this year’s event was soil carbon in a changing climate. Among the presenters speaking about this topic, Soil CRC researcher Lukas Van Zwieten (NSW Department of Primary Industries) provided some insights into sequestration processes and asked delegates to rethink soil carbon storage mechanisms and opportunities.

Another topic of particular interest was soil data and dissemination systems. Representing the Soil CRC in this area were Federation University’s Peter Dahlhaus, who spoke about the Visualising Australasia’s Soils project, and Nathan Robinson, who delved into improved soil data management.

This culminated with the launch of the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS). Part of the National Soils Strategy, ANSIS provides the mechanisms to access and federate soil data and information through collaboration with key stakeholders across the country.

A number of Soil CRC researchers spoke about new soil technologies and soil management systems, including Richard Bell (Murdoch University), Marcus Hardie (University of Tasmania) and Ying Cheng (University of Newcastle). You can read more about this emerging technology here.

The Soil CRC is also extremely proud of our PhD students who delivered both oral and poster presentations across a range of topics and sessions. We’d like to give a special shout out to Suman Gajurel, Prasanthi Sooriyakumar, Win Win Pyone, Daven Gopalan, Phil Kay, Rahat Shabir, Chenting Jiang, Sundus Saeed and Maria Then for representing the Soil CRC and our PhD student cohort with such professionalism and flare.

Another highlight for many delegates was the keynote speech given by ABC’s Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis at the conference dinner. Costa attended much of the conference and engaged with many of the delegates, noting how important it is to have good scientists working with good farmers to underpin our healthy food production systems.

As a silver sponsor, the Soil CRC hosted the welcome reception on Sunday night and had a presence at the conference in a number of ways. Delegates visited our exhibition booth to find out more about our projects and connect with our researchers and staff.

It was pleasing to see that many people we spoke to were already familiar with the work of the Soil CRC—for the uninitiated, the conference offered a great opportunity to learn more.

Our CEO Dr Michael Crawford used his keynote speech on Day 3 to outline the purpose of the Soil CRC, highlight some of our exciting research projects, and talk about where we’re heading over our final four years.

There were plenty of other fantastic presentations from Australia and overseas, and it was great to see the conference theme, Our Soil: Spirit of a Nation, woven throughout the sessions and activities.

Congratulations to the Organising Committee and to Soil Science Australia for holding such a superb event. We look forward to the next conference in late 2024.

Delegates inspecting a soil pit on the Douglas-Daly Region field trip