Soil Sampling in Nepal with Roshan

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Currently Roshan is in Nepal doing some baseline soil sampling and setting up his trial site. His research is to comparing native pasture species with exotic pasture species as an option of soil organic carbon sequestration to restore marginal cropland and abandoned cropland.


TCRG success at the National Soils Conference

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Recently the members of TCRG (Brian, Yui, Ivanah & Katherine) as well as other UNE staff and students (Lisa Lobry de Bruyn, Sajanee Gunadasa and Karl Anderson) attended the 2018 National Soils Conference in Canberra to present their research. Lisa delivered a keynote presentation about ‘connecting soil knowledge to communities’ which generated much discussion from the conference delegates.

Ivanah’s presentation “Bringing soil to life: The tale of ‘Mottly’ and his adventures as a soil mascot” was a real hit, especially when ‘Mottly’ was there to help present. Mottly had the conference participants lining up to get in a photo with him. For her excellent presentation Ivanah was awarded the Soil Science Australia Most Meritorious Oral Presentation by an early career researcher and the CSIRO Best Oral Presentation Award.

With all the soil judging success, keynote presentations and best presentation awards, UNE was very successful for the week. 

Mottly & Ivanah

Mottly & Ivanah











UNE success at National Soil Judging Competition

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Ivanah Oliver, Kirsten Drew, Sajanee Gunadasa, Emily Sears, Robin Shannon & Brian Wilson (coach) represented UNE at the 6th Australian Soil Judging Competition held in Canberra. The team spent two practice days developing their skills and knowledge, before taking on the competition pits on day three. The competition consisted of doing two soil pits together as a team and one pit as individuals. The competition was hotly contested by 11 teams from university across Australian and even NZ.

In the team’s division achieved UNE placed 2nd, while in the individual division Ivanah Oliver was the champion!

The team had a great competition with many news skills and knowledge learnt, networks created and much fin had. The planning and practice has already started with much enthusiasm for next years competetion where we are aiming to do even better.

Check out the UNE blog page where our strength in soil science is highlighted.


Sajanee & Kirsten

All the teams

In the pit
















Ivanah at the 21st World Congress of Soil Science in Brazil

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During the week of the 12-17th August, Ivanah atteneded the 21st World Congress of Soil Science. The WCSS is held every four years and the premier gathering from soil scientists from across the globe. This year the congress was hosted by the Brazilian Soil Science Society in Rio de Janiero.

The congress was great week spent learning all about challenges and successes of Brazilian soils and agriculture. Ivanah presented a poster on her research titled ‘Renting the same room: Do roots repeatedly reoccupy the same spaces?’ which was all about using micro-computer tomography to determine the quanity and distribution of roots in a soil core over successive plantings. 

A real highlight of the week was getting up into the mountians behind Rio de Janerio on the field trip day and seeing the local agricultural areas and production systems. 


Vegetable farm in Brazil

Soils of brazil

Ivanah presenting her poster

Brazil soil profile







Apsara Amarasinghe joins TCRG

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Recently Apsara Amarasinghe arrived from Sri Lanka to commence her PhD studies with the Terrestrial Carbon Reseach Group. Apsara’s PhD research will be looking at soil biodiversity and nutrient dynamics under environmental plantings. Her PhD is one compontent of a larger project lead by Brian Wilson funded by the  Environmental Trust NSW for “Soil biodiversity benefits from environmental plantings”. 

Apsara has hit the ground running with already completing a number of soil sampling trips to Gunnedah and recently completing her confirmation of canditure. She is looking forward to further sampling trips to Dubbo, Emerald Plains and Wagga Wagga. 


TCRG at Sydney Royal Easter Show

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If you were at the Sydney Royal Easter Show recently you may have seen Ivanah and ‘Mottly’ wandering around the Farm of the Future pavillion. This year UNE showcased their SMART Farm and all the technology from down in the ground all the way up to the Satellites. Ivanah was down to talk all about the importance of soils and to highlight the soil research at UNE.










World Soil Day 2017

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Each year the 5th of December is a day worth celebrating; not just for soil scientists and fanatics alike, but for anyone living on this planet. It is a day to celebrate and reflect on how valuable soils are to our very existance. From the growing of our food and fibre, cleaning our water, and protecting biodiversity to provding construction materials; soils are are super important resource to us all. But they are under threath from contaminates, degredation, erosion and urbanistation. 

It is important that we all consider how we utilse and protect the soil we have; and World Soil Day is the perfect day to raise awareness about soils… and eat cake! World Soil Day was celebrated by soil staff and students at UNE with a morning tea with a grand array of baked goodies.

NSW State Soil – Red Chromosol

Soil Pit



















UNE come 3rd at Australian Soil Judging Competition

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During the last week of September the 5th Australian Soil Judging Competition, was held at Toowoomba, Qld. Three students; Ivanah Oliver, Imogen Semmler and Liz Marshall, represented UNE in the team: ‘New England Soil Sleuths’.

The competition consisted of two days of training followed by a competition day. On the first day of training we were shown the Ferrosol which much of Toowoomba is built on, then some wonderful black cracking vertosols of the Darling Downs. Day two took us east into the highly productive Lockyer Valley, were we got to dig around in some texture contrast soils; and see the changes in soil types across the topographic sequence of the Lockyer Creek at Gatton.

With the training days done, competition day had arrived, a very hot, windy and sun baked one. With much excitement and a few nerves, we were pumped to get under way. The competition format consisted of describing two pits together as a team and one as individuals. The organisers certainly chose three challenging pits for day, which much debate about the classification still being had over dinner that night.

In a tight race, UNE were the 3rd placed team out of 13, which was a fantastic result. Nevertheless, the most valuable parts of the week were the new networks and relationships formed with like-minded people from all over Australia and New Zealand; and the new skills and knowledge that we gained from the whole experience.

Already we are planning for the 2018 competition, which will be in November at Canberra in conjunction with the National Soil Science Conference. Until then you will find us in the bottom of a soil pit practicing our field textures!  

Read a competition full report from Soil Science Australia in a special edition of Soil Crumbs.





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