Measuring how fast soil grows

30 October 2011

Dr Uta Stockmann, a recent PhD graduate from the Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources has been awarded one of Australia's most prestigious science awards, the 2011 CG Stephens PhD Award in Soil Science. The award is presented by the Australian Society of Soil Science Inc (ASSSI) for the best PhD thesis in soil science granted by an Australian university. Her PhD thesis "Quantifying processes of pedogenesis: A field study situated in the Werrikimbe National Park in south‐eastern Australia" addresses some of the most fundamental questions in soil science: "How fast and where does soil grow?", "When does it stop growing?", "How does soil function in the current environment and how will it function and respond to climate change?" This work is one of the few that actually measured and quantify the rate of soil formation.

The CG Stephens committee stated that "Its use of novel methodology, wide ranging nature, combined with good pedology really makes a solid and exciting contribution to this area of soil science." One examiner commenting that some "ground breaking" papers will come from the work.

One of the thesis examiners remarked that "Pedogenesis is a very much understudied topic. It is unfathomable that this is the case given that soil supports 90% of world food production and impacts all aspects of terrestrial systems. Consequently understanding soil production rates is vital. While conceptually simple, determining process and rates is technically extremely complex. This thesis does an excellent job of keeping the complexities as logical and focussed as possible. This thesis makes a significant contribution to this topic. The thesis is a genuine contribution to knowledge of pedogenesis and a significant body of new work."

Dr. Stockmann is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Faculty continuing her work on an ARC-funded research, measuring and understanding the rate of soil formation in the Hunter Valley.

Contact: Dr Budiman Minasny

Phone: 02 8627 1131

Email: 141a0e081c2d0d43033957111257102a322b33222f2e610d5d11051401