Soil experts vie for leading Landcare award

ADVOCATE: The late Major General Michael Jeffery was Australia's first National Soils Advocate. The inaugural winner of the General Jeffery Soil Health Award will be revealed on August 5.
ADVOCATE: The late Major General Michael Jeffery was Australia's first National Soils Advocate. The inaugural winner of the General Jeffery Soil Health Award will be revealed on August 5.

Three leading experts in soil health have been selected as finalists for the inaugural 2020 General Jeffery Soil Health Award.

The award recognises an individual's work to champion, improve and/or educate others in soil health and is dedicated to Australia's first National Soils Advocate, the late Major General Michael Jeffery.

The 2020 winner will be announced at the virtual National Landcare Awards, on the evening of Thursday, August 5, during the National Landcare Conference.

Lynette Abbott from Western Australia is vying for the award.

An Emeritus Professor at The University of Western Australia, Lynette's career spans four decades.

Known for her pioneering research on soil fungi in agriculture and disturbed natural environments, she is acknowledged as a world leader in this field.

Her research has addressed fungal interactions with plants and implications for fertiliser management and soil amendments.

She has shared her extensive knowledge with students, and by establishing the innovative 'Know your Soil Biology' workshops for farmers, she is providing hands-on activities on the benefits of soil biota for soil health/quality.

Professor Abbott is also currently consolidating soil health knowledge through a project in the Australian government Smart Farms program.

Brian Hughes from South Australia is also in contention.

As Primary Industries and Regions SA-Rural Solutions SA principal consultant, Mr Hughes has been involved in determining the extent of soil acidification and the rate at which acid soils are developing in areas that were inherently non-acidic.

Mr Hughes 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. He is recognised for promoting the adoption of treatment options for acid soils.

The third contender, Robert Quirk from NSW is a farmer, sustainable agriculture educator, researcher and advocate.

Mr Quirk's cane farm is located on the coastal flood plain of the Tweed River in northern NSW.

Through years of observation, study, experimentation and collaboration, he has developed management practices to reduce the impacts of, and constraints to, improving soil health in cane fields that have resulted in quantifiable improvements in soil characteristics.

Mr Quirk has shared his experience widely. Collaborating with three universities over the past 20 years, he has developed best practice for sustainably growing sugar cane in acid sulphate soils and has increased soil organic carbon content on his property from two to six per cent.

The General Jeffery Soil Health Award was established, and is supported by, the Office of the National Soils Advocate within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is administered by Landcare Australia.

Registration for the National Landcare Conference and Awards is free.

This story Soil experts vie for award first appeared on Farm Online.