2020 Soil Science Australia Award Winners

Soil Science Australia Publication Medal – Pei-Pei Xue

“Scientific merit, relevance to soil science, and effectiveness in communicating the paper’s contents to the reader”

Pei-Pei Xue (University of Sydney) was the lead author, co-authors were Yolima Carrillo, Vanessa Pino, Budiman Minasny & Alex. B. McBratney.

This biogeographic study (Soil Properties Drive Microbial Community Structure in a Large Scale Transect in South Eastern Australia, Nature, Scientific Reports) makes a fundamental contribution toward understanding the relative impacts of human and physical controls on soil microbial communities. We congratulate the authors on a highly relevant and well-presented research.

CG Stephens PhD Award – Qiao Xu

“best PhD thesis on the basis of the originality, its’ significance to soil science and its’ clarity of writing”

Dr Xu’s thesis “Climate Change Goes Underground: Effects of elevated CO2 on Rhizosphere Priming of Soil Organic Matter” was considered a standout of the theses being judged. He was also awarded the Nancy Mills Medal for outstanding PhDs at La Trobe Uni. Dr Xu is to be commended for demonstrating his considerable skills in soil and plant analysis. His thesis was well designed, a comprehensive investigation and was able to reveal the complexity of CO2 enrichment affecting rhizosphere priming effect.

JA Prescott Medal – not awarded

“outstanding contribution to soil science”

In carefully considering the JA Prescott Medal rules and guidelines, the committee felt that the candidate(s) assessed did not quite meet the criteria of outstanding contribution to soil science in a National context. This was not an easy decision for them to make.

LJH Teakle Award – Bill Cotching

“outstanding effort in promoting and raising the awareness of soil science in Australia via extension activity with Soil Science Australia and/or the wider community”

Bill has had a spectacular career contributing to the promotion and awareness raising of soil science in Australia. His dedication to agricultural extension in Tasmania has been both extensive and exemplary.

The breath of Bill’s extension activities with land managers has been particularly impressive. From Nutrient management to soil carbon stores to land management for water quality Bill has done it all. Spending much of his career in Tasmania Bill has worked extensively with farmer groups assisting in the implementation of best soil management practices. His efforts have provided significant outcomes for Tasmanian soil health, particularly in regard to soil carbon, fertilisers use, soil structure and erosion control measures. Beyond Tasmania Bill’s undertaken significant work in WA working with pastoralists implementing land management change for vegetation and biodiversity outcomes. Bill has shown a career long commitment to extension of soil science research to land managers.

The LJH Teakle awards committee and the broader soil science community congratulate and thank Bill for his excellent work and service to the community in the promotion and awareness raising of soils and soil science in Australia.

Soil Science Australia Fellowship – not awarded

“conferred for exceptional achievement and distinction in any or all of soils-based research, technology, teaching, extension and/or the advancement of soil science”

After careful consideration, the Committee resolved not to award Fellowship in 2020.

The committee agreed that the nomination(s) did not provide sufficient information or evidence that supported the Fellowship criteria”.

Soil Science Australia Honorary Life Membership

The Committee is pleased to announce that two nominations for Honorary Life Membership have both been endorsed

Richard MacEwan
Richard has demonstrated outstanding effort and achievement in promoting and raising the awareness of soil science through activity with Soil Science Australia and the wider community over several decades. He has been active on Soil Science Australia committees since 1992, including a four-year stint as Federal President from 2009-2012. Under his leadership there was a significant achievement relating to strengthening professional standards (particularly CPSS); broadening engagement of the Society, and overseeing the World Congress of Soil Science in 2010. In 2017, Richard was recognised with Soil Science Australia’s Teakle Award for his work. Despite retiring in 2017, Richard continues to be a strong advocate for the Society and soil science.

Noel Schoknecht
Noel has had a distinguished 40-year soil science career in the area of soil characterisation and land resource assessment in Victoria, Western Australia and overseas. He has held leadership roles on the National Committee for Soils and Terrain (NCST), in both policy and technical fields, that has delivered distinguished impact on soil science across Australia. Since retiring in 2016 he has continued his involvement by co-leading the NCST’s Australian Soil Classification Working Group. Noel has served as Federal Secretary of Soil Science Australia (2014-2016); Soil Science Australia Calendar Committee Chair (2015-2017) and active photographic contributor; Profile and Crumbs Editor (2017 to 2019).

JK Taylor Award – Vinod Phogat

Vinod was the lead author and main contributor to two excellent and complementary research articles that have immediate practical applications for management of riparian zones and soil salinity in farmland.

  • Optimizing the riparian zone width near a river for controlling lateral migration of irrigation water and solutes (Phogat et al 2019, Journal of Hydrology)
  • Management of soil salinity associated with irrigation of protected crops (Phogat et al 2020, Agricultural Water Management)

Riparian zone retention and associated management is often a controversial issue due to the lack of real data to support buffer widths etc. This research changes that paradigm, providing solid outcomes for governments and land managers to establish appropriate riparian buffers under statutory and management guidelines.

All nominations were of extremely high quality, making decisions difficult. Congratulations to all nominees for your efforts in progressing Australian Soil Science