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Soil science in the spotlight

Internationally renowned scientists and local farmers will come together to discuss the latest research on soils in agricultural systems and celebrate the UN International Year of Soils, at a symposium in Albury on 2nd September.

The latest soil science research as it applies to changes in modern farming practices, will be presented by key speakers, Dr. Jeff Baldock from CSIRO, Assoc. Prof. Pauline Mele from La Trobe University, and Prof. Ian Young, University of NSW. The symposium is expected to draw over 100 local scientists, farmers and land managers, from around the region.

The view from the ground up will be given by local farmers Scott McKillop, a North-east dairy farmer, and David Wolfenden, who runs a cropping and sheep enterprise at Rand. Local grazing systems specialist Jim Virgona will give his perspective on how soil management affects productivity on the farm and how soil science can be applied at a practical level.

The importance of soils is being recognised by farmers as they come to terms with climate change, nutrient management, salinity, acid soils and scientific discoveries about the role of soil microbes in the effectiveness of fertilisers. The physical, biological and chemical constraints of soils and practices to improve soil health and productivity will be discussed in an involving interactive way at the symposium.

Other soils specialists from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Charles Sturt University, the University of Queensland, and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage will be presenting and available to discuss their ideas with participants.

The symposium is a partnership of Murray Local Land Services with North East CMA , supported by Charles Sturt University (CSU), Soil Science Australia and the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Tom McIntosh, who leads the Agriculture team at Murray Local Land Services, says that soils are getting a lot more attention in productive agriculture.

"Soils provide us with natural resources such as food and fibre production and perform important services such as filtering pollutants, absorbing water to reduce flooding and breaking down organic waste," he said.

"Supporting healthy soils and landscapes is critical to supporting resilient, profitable and sustainable farm businesses.

"This symposium will provide land managers on the Border with a great opportunity to hear from some of Australia's brightest minds on the current state of soil health", he added.

A Celebration of Soils will be held at Charles Sturt University, Albury 2nd September, concluding with dinner at the Kinross Woolshed where New Zealand Soil Scientist Nathan Heath who has had an international career promoting the adoption of sustainable land management, will be the guest speaker.

Online registration is available at http://tinyurl.com/soilsymposium2015 or download a flyer at the Murray LLS website.

More information

David Wolfenden, local farmer and guest speaker, is available for interview, p: 02 6029 5243, m: 0427 018 413, e: dzwolfenden@bigpond.com

Lachlan Campbel, conference convenor, NECMA is available for interview, p: 02 6043 7672, e: Lachlan.campbell@necma.vic.gov.au 

Caroline Humby, communications officer, North East CMA, p: 02 6043 7600, e: caroline.humby@lls.nsw.gov.au