Soil is a renewable energy source and is one of the ‘life-bloods’ that nurtures, nourishes and sustains life. Of the total food consumed by humans, 99.7% comes from soil.
It is estimated that the world wastes between 80-90% of its applied nutrients and yet soil health, its ability to operate as a carbon sink, and its role in revitalising waterways are vital priorities for industry and shaping agrifood practices.
A soil scientist studies the chemical, physical, and biological properties of the top few meters of the Earth’s surface. Soil science is divided into two main areas of study – soil pedology and soil edaphology.
Soil pedology studies the formation and development, composition, morphology and identification and the classification of soils.
Edaphology focuses on human’s use of soil and its influence on living things, particularly plants. This includes soil fertility, managing sewers and landfills, anticipating flood runoff, and examining the process by which plants obtain nutrients and water from soil.
Scientists also look at the inter-relationships between soil and factors that affect plant growth such as soil acidity, salinity and toxic contaminations.
Soil Science graduates can find employment in:
- Ground contamination remediation from landfills and other ecological accidents
- Environmental management in the mining industry
- Soil scientists in government and industry for agricultural production
- Soil conservation
- Water catchment management
- Assisting palaeontologists and archaeologists to give an environmental and human history of sites
- Research scientist
The University offers students the following study options:
- Bachelor of Agricultural Science
- Bachelor of Applied Science
- Bachelor of Environmental Science
- Postgraduate Coursework programs
- Master of Philosophy
- Doctor of Philosophy
Soil Science research at the School:
The University of Queensland was one of only six institutions to have the sub-discipline of Soil Science rated in the 2010 Australia-wide government assessment, with the group performing “above international standard”. Major research activities of the Group cover the science and sustainable management of agricultural systems, the management of physically, chemically and nutritionally degraded lands including mine land rehabilitation, the land application of solid and liquid waste, and natural resource assessment.
School academics in this field
- Emeritus Professor Colin Asher
- Professor Neal Menzies
- Associate Professor Pax Blamey
- Dr Paul Dennis
- Dr Ryo Fujinuma
- Dr Gunnar Kirchhof
- Dr Peter Kopittke
- Dr Brigid McKenna
- Dr Peng Wang
- Dr Bernhard Wehr
Key research collaborators with the School include:
- Santos: Investigating the safe and beneficial use of coal seam gas water to increase agricultural production
- The Queensland state government Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM)
- University of South Australia: Investigating novel and technically advanced methods for examining contaminants in plants.
- Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC-CARE): Examining the effects of salinity and sodicity from waste disposal on plant growth.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): Developing new methods to predict the risk of contaminants in the environment.