Soil Science

Introduction

The thin skin of soil that mantles the land surface of the earth is a complex and fascinating chemical, physical and biological system.  Far from being mere dirt beneath your feet, it is teeming with life.  In fact there are vastly more living organisms in the area under the soles of your shoes than there are people on earth.  Because soil is the interface where plants, animals, water, air and rocks meet and interact, soil science is a highly interdisciplinary subject and of key importance to many professions including agriculture, environmental and natural resource management, urban and regional planning, and engineering.  The fragility of many of Australia's soils is well known and soil scientists are working to manage major degradation issues such as erosion, salinity, acidification and soil structure decline, while at the same time developing new ways to enhance and sustain the soils agricultural productivity.  In addition soil scientists are playing an increasing role in waste management programs, solving soil contamination problems and reconstructing damaged ecosystems.

Explore our Living Soils website

Explore Oz Soils, our interactive introduction to soil science


Why Study Soil Science at UNE?

UNE is one of Australia's leading providers of undergraduate soil science education, with over 150 students taking soils units each year and lecturers with expertise in soil chemistry, soil physics, soil biology and pedology.  In addition to teaching into interdisciplinary units we provide a sequence of specialised soil science units to take the student from the basics of how soils function to solving complex real-world soil management problems. We also supervise research students undertaking projects in a diverse range of fields including plant nutrition and fertiliser management, soil biological health, soil water management, soil structure, soil carbon dynamics, organic agriculture, soil contamination, and mine site rehabilitation. Because of the central role of soil in many environmental and agricultural issues we work closely in our teaching and research with staff and students from other disciplines at UNE as well as with government agencies and industry.

Courses
Units

EM311/511 - Land Assessment for Sustainable Use
SOIL222/422 - Soil Science
SOIL310/510 - Soils, Pollution and the Environment
SOIL311/511 - Productive Soil Systems
SOIL431/531 - Soils for Sustainable Ecosystems

ERS501 - Applied Research Skills in Environmental and Rural Science
SCI500 - Research Methods in the Sciences

Careers

Career opportunities for graduates with expertise in soil science exist in a wide range of areas associated with land management, including:

  • Agricultural enterprises
  • Environmental management for mines, etc
  • Environmental and agricultural consultancies
  • Government agencies (eg Department of Primary Industries, Department of Environment and Conservation)
  • Catchment Management Authorities, Landcare etc.
  • Research organisations (CSIRO, universities)
Facilities

UNE has excellent laboratories for soil science research.  Analytical facilities include ICP-OES, ion chromatograph, Carlo-Erba-MS CNS analyser, NIRS, GC-MS and HPLC.  We have a range of field and laboratory equipment for measuring soil structure, soil mechanical properties, and soil water (neutron probes, TDR, capacitance probes, pressure plates, etc).  There is a state of the art glasshouse complex, and because of our rural location students have ready access to university owned research properties, the closest of which are adjacent to the campus.

Soil Scientists at UNE
Name Contact Details
Dr Richard Flavel
Lecturer
Agronomy & Soil Science
P: +61 2 6773 2441
F: +61 2 6773 3238
E: rflavel3@une.edu.au
A/Professor Chris Guppy
Associate Professor
Agronomy & Soil Science
P: +61 2 6773 3567
F: +61 2 6773 3238
E: cguppy@une.edu.au
Dr Lisa Lobry de Bruyn
Senior Lecturer
Ecosystem Management
P: +61 2 6773 3119
F: +61 2 6773 2769
E: llobryde@une.edu.au
Dr Oliver Knox
Senior Lecturer
Agronomy & Soil Science
P: +61 2 6773 2946
F: +61 2 6773 3238
E: oknox@une.edu.au
Dr Matthew Tighe
Senior Lecturer
Agronomy & Soil Science
P: +61 2 6773 2180
F: +61 2 6773 3238
E: mtighe2@une.edu.au
A/Prof Brian Wilson
Associate Professor
Ecosystem Management
P: +61 2 6773 3287
F: +61 2 6773 2769
E: brian.wilson@une.edu.au
Dr Susan Wilson
Senior Lecturer
Agronomy & Soil Science
P: +61 2 6773 2789
F: +61 2 6773 3238
E: susan.wilson@une.edu.au

Contacts

For general and administrative enquiries, AskUNE.

For further information about studying soil science contact:

Associate Professor Chris Guppy
Phone: +61 2 6773 3567
Email: cguppy@une.edu.au