Nearly 500 soil scientists from 20 countries are about to converge on Hobart for a week of research discussions and field trips.
The 5th Australia and New Zealand Soil Science Societies Conference, co-sponsored by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA), will be held at the Wrest Point Convention Centre from Sunday 2 December.
It will feature the inaugural Australian Soil Judging Competition, an art competition and a professional development workshop for high-school science teachers.
The soil judging competition will see six teams of university students participating in a field-based soil judging competition – a training game devised in the USA for young soil scientists and consultants.
Teams of four students each from the University of Tasmania (UTAS), and the universities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Queensland, plus a mixed team, will examine and analyse soil profiles in the Coal River Valley. A prize will be awarded to the best team at the conference dinner on Thursday 6 December at the Hobart Function Centre.
The art competition involves delegates attending the dinner being issued with crayons made from different types of soil, charcoal (biochar) and lime and asked to give free rein to their imaginations.
The Primary Industries Centre for Science Education (PICSE) will hold the professional development workshop for high school science teachers on the theme The 2050 Challenge: Science Solutions for Tasmania’s Diverse Food Bowl.
Delegates will also be treated to a tutored tasting of top Tasmanian pinot noir from a range of soil types, analysed for the occasion by Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year owner Matt Pooley (pinot noir grapes at Pooley Wines vineyard pictured), wine writer Phil Laing and soil scientist Dr Richard Doyle.
Program highlights include: improving soil fertility (Tuesday and Wednesday); soil carbon (Tuesday and Wednesday); soil, water and irrigation demands (Thursday); ecosystems services (Friday morning) and soil forensic science (Friday morning).
For more details of the program go to: www.soilscience2012.com