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Students race to dig up dirt on competition

It’s time for USQ’s soil science students to get their hands dirty.

The 5th Australian National Soil Judging Competition will kick off at USQ Toowoomba next week (Monday, September 25 2017), attracting university teams from all over the country to put their soil analysis skills to the test.

About 70 students are expected to take part in the week-long event, working in teams and as individuals to examine soil and landscape profiles at sites around the agricultural food bowl of the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley.

USQ teams topped the competition in 2014 (Melbourne) and 2015 (Perth), as well as put in a strong showing in New Zealand in 2016 (overall third place, plus a student in the winning team).

USQ Senior Research Fellow (Soil Science) Dr John Bennett is the President of Soil Science Australia.

He said soil judging events such as this help facilitate and encourage the next generation of soil professionals.

“This competition connects students with industry professionals, allowing them to learn about soils in different regions and refine their practical soil knowledge and skills,” Dr Bennett said.

“Over the course of the competition, students gain competency in describing soil morphology, interpreting soil physical and chemical results, classifying soils using the Australian Soil Classification, and determining the overall land use suitability.”

The competition will feature undergraduate and post-graduate students from degrees ranging from Environmental Science, Agricultural Science and Engineering.

Many of the USQ students to take part would have completed the University’s Soil and Water Engineering Practice course, which instils a practical understanding of the processes governing soil and water behaviour in the environment.

The 5th Australian National Soil Judging Competition will conclude with an awards dinner on Thursday (September 28 2017) attended by Federal Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh, following two days of practice with experienced soil scientists and the competition day on Wednesday (September 27 2017).

Source: USQ

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