2012 Joint Australian and NZ Soil Science Conference Hobart Tasmania

Conference Summary

by Dr Richard Doyle, Conference Convenor

The 5th Joint Australian and New Zealand Soil Science Conference attracted 485 delegates from 18 countries. The event was officially opened by our Patron Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC, Queensland Governor, with a stirring and encouraging talk on the key role of soils and soil science in society.

The main body of the conference ran over five days with an additional five-day preconference field trip around the north and west of the state (thanks Bill Cotching). The conference included four days of papers and poster sessions in four concurrent sessions and one day of inconference field trips. For the first time both abstracts and 4-page papers were accepted, the latter were refereed to meet with the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) metrics and so qualify as published refereed conference papers (thanks to the editorial team Led by Lucy Burkitt and Leigh Sparrow).The conference dinner and awards night was attended by 300 delegates. A similar number attended the mid-week field trips which went to the Coal River Valley led by Dr Marcus Hardie with a focus on sodic and saline soils, the Derwent Valley with a focus on forest soils led by Dr Paul Adams, the Huon Valley led by Drs Philip Smethurst and Brent Clothier on horticultural and farm forestry soils and Mt Wellington and the Huon trip led by Dr Peter McIntosh to examine soil stratigraphy.

The conference also included a welcome BBQ and blues band (thanks Richard MacEwan), a Tasmanian Pinot Noir Terroir wine tasting (thanks Phil Laing and Matt Pooley) and face to face meetings of the Federal Council, the CPSS Board and the societies AGM.Delegates rated the conference a 4/5 on most metrics and it has been variously reported as one of the biggest and best run by the two societies. Prof Mary Beth Kirkham from Kansas, USA had the following to say about the conference “I had an excellent time at the meetings in Hobart, the most enjoyable meetings I can remember in a long time.

Hobart is a beautiful location and the sessions were outstanding”.This conference also staged the first ever “Soil Judging Competition” (thanks Stephen Cattle and team) – our version of a US soil and land description and classification competition in which five teams of students from across the country competed. From down here in Tasmania we were so proud the local soil science students were victorious in the overall team result. Separate reports have been prepared by the Tasmanian Team and ASSSI Past-President Dr Stephen Cattle who organised the competition.

I am pleased to advise that the conference made a surplus which will be invested and utilised by the society for the betterment of members present and future. I believe the conference made a positive return due to all the voluntary work of the committee and I thank their employers especially TIAUTAS for the support they provided over the two years of planning and final execution of the conference. I would also like to thank all our sponsors who strongly backed the conference and helped make it all possible. The Gold Sponsors were ACIAR, GRDC, Caring For Our Country, TIA at UTAS while our Silver Sponsor was CSIRO and our Bronze Sponsors were IPNI International Plant Nutrition Institute,Tasmanian Alkaloids, AgVita and Dairy Australia. Wiley-Blackwell sponsored the web pages and the Tasmanian Government and Geo-Environmental Solutions sponsored the inaugural Soil Judging Competition. I hope they all feel they got good value from the conference and will consider supporting future conferences.

Finally I would like to thank the organising committee who worked so hard in particular Drs Leigh Sparrow and Lucy Burkitt who were there all the way and did much of the hard graft on sponsorship (Leigh) and editing the papers (both Lucy and Leigh) and to Leesa McDermott at conference Design in Hobart whose team were amazing and an absolute pleasure to work with.