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Soil security: running down a dream

Solutions for securing our soils for centuries to come
Join us as we commemorate United Nations World Soil Day with a discussion about how we can ensure that our soils provide food, biodiversity and healthy ecosystems well into the future.

Popular media often gives us the impression that the world’s soils are on borrowed time due to the everpresent threat of erosion and pollution. As our soils are blown, washed, eroded away and polluted, there are grim predictions that they will only last another century.

In this Sydney Ideas discussion for United Nations World Soil Day 2018 (#WorldSoilDay), a panel of world-renowned experts will clarify the current state of play for soil security and put forward solutions to ensure that we have soil security for the provision of food, biodiversity and healthy ecosystems in centuries to come.

This event is part of the Soil Security and Planetary Health Conference: 3rd Global Soil Security Conference, which is being hosted by the University of Sydney from 4-6 December 2018.

It will be broadcast on Facebook Live, watch it here.

This event was held on Wednesday 5 December, 2018 at the University of Sydney.

The speakers:

  • Damien Field (facilitator) is Associate Professor in Global Soil Security and Soil Education at the University of Sydney. He is the Head of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and has a great interest in education in general; and in soil education in particular. He is also heavily involved in post-degree training of soil scientists. Among Damien’s many research interests is development agriculture. He conducts a large ACIAR project on soil management for sustainable crop production in Papua New Guinea. Damien is an instigator of the soil security concept and has worked diligently to develop and implement a framework for its evaluation.
  • Cristine Morgan is a Professor of Soil Science with emphasis in soil hydrology and pedometrics at Texas A&M University in the United States. Her research program integrates research with graduate and undergraduate training that focuses on the role of soil science and integrating soil science knowledge to address challenges of water, food, and energy security.  Outcomes of her research program provide innovative measures of spatially and temporally variable soil properties and improvement on our ability to quantify soil processes in managed ecosystems. Her academic program is internationally recognised for outstanding teaching, research, and mentoring.
  • Yong-Guan Zhu is Professor of Biogeochemistry and Environmental Soil Science and Soil Biology and Director General of the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has been working on the biogeochemistry of nutrients, metals and emerging pollutants (such as antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes). Professor Zhu is a leader in taking multi-scale and multidisciplinary approaches to soil and environmental problems. Professor Zhu has received many international and Chinese merit awards, including the TWAS Science Award for Agricultural Science 2013, and was an elected fellow for the America Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Catherine Allan is Associate Professor in Environmental Sociology and Planning at Charles Sturt University, and Leader of Program 1 of the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC). Catherine has held various Landcare extension roles for state government agencies. Drawn to systems thinking, Catherine moved to academia in 2001 to focus on regional scale adaptive management of resources such as water, soil, flora and fauna, and especially, human interactions with them. Much of her work explores how individuals and societies frame issues through language, images and behaviours – and the implications of these framings.
  • Johan Bouma is Emeritus Professor of Soil Science, Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He received the President’s Award of the Soil Science Society of America in 2014 for his contributions to the profession. He is an honorary member of the International Union of Soil Sciences and the Dutch Soil Science Society. He was the first soil scientist to be elected a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. He is Officer in the Order of Orange Nassau (2001). In 2017 he received the Alexander von Humboldt Medal from the European Geosciences Union for his work in developing countries. 
  • Patrick Holden is a British farmer and activist, who campaigns for organic and sustainable farming. He is the founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust, an organisation based in Bristol, UK, working internationally to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable food systems. After studying biodynamic agriculture at Emerson College, he established a mixed community farm in Wales in 1973, producing at various times: wheat for flour production sold locally, carrots, and milk from an 85 cow Ayrshire dairy herd, now made into a single farm cheddar style cheese by his son Sam. He was the founding chairman of British Organic Farmers in 1982. In 1988, he joined the Soil Association, where he worked for nearly 20 years. During this time the organisation led the development of organic standards and the market for organic foods. His advocacy for a major global transition to more sustainable food systems now entails international travel and regular broadcasts and talks at public events.

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