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2022 General Jeffery Soil Health Award recipient has been announced

Congratulations to Dr Oliver Knox from NSW!

The General Jeffery Soil Health Award is open to any individual farmer, land manager, extension specialist or educator who is making an outstanding contribution to improving soil health in Australia.


RECIPIENT Dr Oliver Knox from NSW: Oliver is a researcher in cotton farming and soil health who has developed and delivered numerous field workshops to the cotton production areas of Australia. In 2014 he reintroduced soil biology into the University of New England undergraduate syllabus, and since 2018, he has driven the Soil Your Undies soil health program in Australia – initially using it as an educational tool with farmers, but with COVID restrictions, the program was adapted to a postal and online citizen science challenge. Coverage of the program is thought to have brought the concept of soil health to an audience of over half a million Australians, and educated an estimated 12,000 school children in soil health.

Prof John McLean Bennett from QLD: Prof John McLean Bennett from Queensland: John is a dedicated soil health advocate and educator who, in becoming a soil scientist himself, recognised the lack of soil science capability development to serve Australian industry. John served in leadership roles at Soil Science Australia for nine years, and established the Training Board and conceived the Recognised Soil Practitioner as a means to provide professional development in soil management. Through leading the soil science teaching capability and capacity review for the Australian Soil Network, he also identified the need for specialist soil services to be developed. In 2021, John co-founded The Soil Company to work directly with farmers on the development of soil health management plans.

Roger Groocock from SA: Roger is an innovative farmer who has dedicated more than 40 years to pioneering soil amelioration techniques that have improved the health and productivity of many tens of thousands of hectares of sandy soils across southern and western Australia. Considered to be an early adopter of technology and a leader in soil modification processes, Roger has worked tirelessly to design, test and measure the long-term effects of a range of soil amelioration techniques, including clay spreading, deep ripping, delving, inversion and spading. Committed to sharing knowledge, Roger has hosted numerous on-farm research trials and crop walks, and has built a community of practice that shares the latest knowledge and new ideas to ensure on-ground change.


The General Jeffery Soil Health Award honours the remarkable work done by Australia’s first National Soils Advocate, former Governor General, Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd) and perpetuates his legacy.

As Australia’s first National Soils Advocate, General Jeffery passionately advocated for improvements in the health of our agricultural landscape. By championing soil health from Parliament House to the paddock, he successfully changed attitudes towards soil sustainability and energised change on farms right across Australia. He relentlessly pursued his focus on the importance of integrated management of soil, water, animals and plants to the benefit of all Australians and our environment.


The General Jeffery Soil Health Award:

  • recognises, honours and celebrates an individual’s outstanding contribution to improving soil health through activities including:
  • undertaking good management practice on the ground and/or;
  • extending and/or communicating knowledge, and advocating for, improved soil management, and/or;
  • educating and raising awareness about the importance of maintaining and improving soil health.
  • promotes the application and understanding of better management practices to improve soil health across the landscape;
  • provides a platform to promote what is being done to improve and promote soil health at a meaningful scale;
  • honours the remarkable work of Australian’s first National Soils Advocate, Major General the Hon Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd);
  • is initiated and sponsored by the Office of the National Soils Advocate and administered by Landcare Australia.
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