Trio of Australian soil health experts nominated for prestigious new award
26/07/2021: A trio of leading experts in the field of soil health will compete for a prestigious new award dedicated to Australia’s first National Soils Advocate, Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd). Presented at the upcoming National Landcare Awards, the General Jeffery Soil Health Award recognises an individual’s work to champion, improve and/or educate others in soil health and is named in his honour. The finalists of this inaugural award are:
Lynette Abbott from Western Australia: Emeritus Professor at The University of Western Australia who established the innovative ‘Know your Soil Biology’ workshops for farmers, providing hands-on activities on the benefits of soil biota for soil health/quality. For her pioneering research on arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in agriculture and disturbed natural environments, she is acknowledged as a world leader in this field. Her research has addressed AM fungi as complex soil communities, and has focused on AM fungal interactions with plants, fertilizer management and soil amendments. Professor Abbott is also currently consolidating soil health knowledge via a project in the Australian Government Smart Farms program titled ‘Engaging digital media to more effectively build confidence in use of sustainable land management practices’.
Brian Hughes from South Australia: Primary Industries and Regions SA-Rural Solutions SA Principal Consultant, Brian has been Involved in determining the extent of soil acidification, the rate at which it is developing in areas that were inherently non-acidic, and promoting the adoption of treatment options. Brian has worked as a soil conservation officer, soils officer, soils and land management consultant since 1982. He has an extensive knowledge of South Australian soils, their distribution, properties and management in agriculture.
Robert Quirk from New South Wales: A sustainable agriculture educator, researcher and advocate, Robert’s farm is located on the coastal flood plain of the Tweed River in northern NSW, a very low lying with a surface elevation of 5 m AHD. Through years of observation, study, experimentation and collaboration, he has developed management practices resulting in quantifiable improvements in soil characteristics. Armed with this knowledge, he was able to develop practices to reduce the impacts and constraints to improve soil health. Robert has collaborated with three universities of the last twenty years, developed world’s best practice for growing sugar cane in acid sulphate soils and increased soil organic carbon levels from two to six per cent.
Forming part of the suite of distinguished awards within the biennial National Landcare Awards administered by Landcare Australia, the General Jeffery Soil Health Award will be presented at this year’s virtual National Landcare Awards on Thursday 5 August, 2021 held during the National Landcare Conference. Registration for the National Landcare Conference and Awards is free, for more information and to register please go to https://nationallandcareconference.org.au/
The General Jeffery Soil Health Award is supported by the Office of the National Soils Advocate within the Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.