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Fri, 25 Jun 2021

Cairns gives a warm welcome to earthly experts

students in front of an earth bank
Soil science students from JCU and QUT went bush on JCU’s Nguma-bada campus in Cairns, for a practice session before for the soil judging competition.

Soil scientists from across Australia and New Zealand are meeting in Cairns for the joint conference of Soil Science Australia and the New Zealand Society of Soil Science.

The conference is titled Soils: investing in our future. “The focus is on investing in our future through soils and their management,” Soil Science Australia President Associate Professor Vanessa Wong said.

The gathering will kick off with a soil judging competition from Friday 26 June in which student soil scientists will compete to identify soil samples collected from sites around Cairns, to find the nation’s speediest and most accurate identifier of soil types.

“Soil properties have a huge influence on the success of agriculture, the cost of infrastructure and the health of the environment,” JCU Associate Professor Paul Nelson said. “Competitors will identify soils including acid sulfate soils that can corrode concrete and steel when disturbed, sandy infertile soils from the base of granite ranges, and fertile clay soil from the Tablelands.”

In addition to sessions at the Cairns Convention Centre, conference attendees can choose from field trips exploring the soils of the tropics, including visits to the estuary and mangroves of East Trinity inlet, Green Island, Atherton Tablelands farms, and reef-protecting water quality programs on coastal farms.

The conference, originally planned for 2020, was rescheduled due to COVID-19.

“While some interstate and New Zealand speakers and delegates will join us on screen, we’re very pleased that the majority will be joining us in Cairns,” Dr Wong said.


Media enquiries: linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au