'Nobel prize' for soil science received by Professor Alex McBratney

18 June 2014

The highest honour in the discipline of soil science was presented to Professor Alex McBratney, from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, at the recent 20th World Congress of Soil Science in Jeju, Korea.

The prestigious Dokuchaev award, known as the 'Nobel prize' for soil science is given by the International Union of Soil Sciences at four year intervals.

Professor McBratney received a medal and an honorarium as part of the award.

The honour recognises Professor McBratney's outstanding research achievements. It is named after a late 19th century Russian scientist who did the seminal work in recognising soil in its own right as part of the natural ecosystem.

"I am thrilled and humbled by the award," said Professor McBratney. "The vast majority of the work on which this award was based has been done here at the University of Sydney where I have worked for the past 24 years. I have always found the University to provide a firm foundation from which to develop new ideas and to project them to the world."

Professor McBratney has further developed the work of Dokuchaev and his successors to do research on the description and understanding of the evolution of soil and its properties and processes.

This has led to the development of new methods for the capturing and dissemination of soil information, leading to its sustainable management in agriculture and the ecosystem.

These methods have been eagerly adopted by research groups and practitioners worldwide and been applied to precision agriculture and digital soil assessment.

Professor McBratney leads one of the strongest university-based research groups on soil resource assessment in the world.

The group's techniques are now the basis for an international global digital soil map, GlobalSoilMap, funded by the Gates Foundation, as well as for collaborative work with state and federal agencies in Australia. The map will play a key part in providing information for policy and management decisions on food production, hunger eradication, climate change and environmental degradation.

Contact: Verity Leatherdale

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