Undergraduate students examining the diversity of Brown Chromosol soil under pasture near Cowra, NSW (Photo by Prof. Budiman Minasny)
Original Published Date: 
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Australia’s soils are a valuable national asset. Crucial for functional ecosystems and strongly influential for food, water and energy security, soils are nonetheless very fragile and require sustainable soil management to assure the ongoing prosperity of rural communities.

An ARC-supported Discovery Project, led by Professor Alex McBratney from The University of Sydney, aims to understand how Australia’s diverse soils function as a result of coupling between their physical, chemical and biological diversity, at a range of scales and land uses across New South Wales.

"With our project we are enabling smart and sustainable soil management through understanding the natural and anthropic drivers of soil change,” says Professor McBratney.

“This is critical for minimising loss of biodiversity, achieving food and soil security and inferring the effects of climate change.”

The research team includes ARC Future Fellowship recipient, Professor Budiman Minasny, from The University of Sydney, and Professor Tony O'Donnell, from The University of Western Australia, as well as early career researcher, Dr Vanessa Pino, and PhD student, Peipei Xue. 

Tony O'Donnell says that the researchers will discover whether there are 'tipping points' for soil biodiversity in particular soils and land uses.

"Managing our soils' biodiversity well above those tipping points will secure the functionality of Australia's soil in natural and managed ecosystems well into the future," says Professor O'Donnell. 

Photo credit: 

Undergraduate students examining the diversity of Brown Chromosol soil under pasture near Cowra, NSW. Credit: Professor Budiman Minasny.