Keynote speakers

Meet the Keynote Speakers for the 2018 National Soils Conference

Dr Penelope Wensley, Patron of Soil Science Australia. Former Governor of Queensland.  Professional diplomat

Presentation topic: Soil Science responsibilities in the 21th Century

Presentation details: Monday 19 November 2018

Dr Michele Barson, Science Adviser,  Sustainable Resource Management Division, Department of Agriculture

Dr Michele Barson is the Science Adviser to the National Landcare Program in the Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Division. Michele is a plant ecologist. She has a long term interest in how carbon, nutrients, sediment and water move around the landscape in response to human activities, and the impact of these changes on sustainability. Michele has worked closely with state agencies and other research organisations to develop digital data for land cover, ground cover, land use, land management practices and soil to improve the national capacity to monitor and manage change.

Presentation topic: Maintaining soil condition and ecosystem services in the Australian environment

Presentation details: Tuesday 20 November 2018

Philip Glyde, Chief Executive,  Agriculture and Water Resources, Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Phillip Glyde has been the Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority since January 2016.  Immediately prior to this Phillip worked for the Department of Agriculture for nine years where he had responsibility for:Phillip Glyde has been the Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority since January 2016.  Immediately prior to this Phillip worked for the Department of Agriculture for nine years where he had responsibility for:

  • Agriculture, fisheries and forestry policy and progress;
  • International trade and market access;
  • The regulation of live animal exports;
  • Export certification services for food; and
  • The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Phillip joined the Australian Public Service in 1980 and has worked on natural resource management, industry and environment policies in a number of Australian government departments and overseas. At a national level Phillip has worked in the departments of:

  • Agriculture;
  • Prime Minister and Cabinet;
  • Environment; and
  • Resources and Energy.

Phillip has also worked at the resource Assessment Commission and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation (CSIRO).Phillip has also worked overseas. In the mid 1980s he worked for the Environment Directorate of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and in the late 90 was seconded to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom.Phillip has an Honours Degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of New England and a Bachelor of Economics Degree from the Australian National University.

Presentation topicBalancing the Murray-Darling Basin’s water resources

Presentation details: Tuesday 20 November 2018

Philip Mulvey, CEO, Environmental Earth Sciences International

Philip Mulvey has been a past NSW State President and served for 4 years on the Federal Executive of the Society. He is part consultant, part contractor, part researcher and part entrepreneur but has always been a free thinker. He has built army base in East Timor, supervised the erection of the largest tent in the UK, sold meat pies in the USA, cleaned up 2 uranium mines, developed townhouses on landfills, rewrote the manual on oil palm development on PASS in Sumatra, evaluated rehabilitation of the desert in Kuwait, participated in the first green city design in the world, evaluated degraded land on the Monaro and he has represented Australia in sailing. He currently has businesses in environmental soil science, whole of farm management, remediation and civil earthworks and property development in which he has trained numerous scientists in the art of commercial scientific problem solving . He is a father of 4 and a grandfather soon to be of 4. (His family are undecided whether he is a pain in the arse all the time or only part of the time). He is proud to say he is a soil scientist (except to customs officers as he is sick and tired in having his boots checked). After over 35 years as a practising soil scientist in landscape repair he remains passionate about the subject and the value of our profession, particularly with regard to our role in landscape repair.

Presentation topic: Balancing risk and opportunities for ‘contaminated’ soils

Presentation details: Thursday 22 November 2018

Dr. G Vadakattu, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO

Dr. Vadakattu Gupta is a Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO Agriculture & Food at the Waite campus in Adelaide, South Australia. He has more than 25 years of experience in functional microbial ecology research in soil and water ecosystems in Australia, Canada and India. Dr Vadakattu Gupta was awarded the Prescott Medal in 2015 by the Soil Science Society of Australia. Authored more than 90 refereed publications and co-edited four books in the areas of genetic and functional diversity of soil microbial communities, soil-microbe-plant interactions, functional microbial ecology at micro- and macroscales and soil health. He is also a Faculty Member at the Department of Medical Biotechnology, Flinders University, Adelaide.

Presentation topic: Soil microbiology and biology both from management perspective and ‘biological fingerprinting’

Presentation details: Thursday 22 November 2018

Adjunct Professor Annette Cowie, Principal Research Scientist NSW DPI

Annette Cowie is Principal Research Scientist, Climate, in the NSW Department of Primary Industries. She is the Land Degradation advisor on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility, a member of the UNCCD’s Science-Policy Interface, and also leads the International Energy Agency Bioenergy research group Climate Change Effects of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems. Annette has a background in plant and soil science, with particular interest in sustainable resource management, indicators of sustainability and resilience, life cycle assessment, and greenhouse gas accounting for the land sector, particularly for soil carbon management. Her recent research has focussed on quantifying and managing climate effects of agriculture and forestry, including through bioenergy and biochar. Her research has been applied in development of climate change policy for the land sector, including GHG accounting for inventory and emissions trading.

Presentation topic: Soil science in a changing world: Meeting the challenges of climate change and land degradation. Presented as the Harald Jensen Lecture for 2018.

Presentation details: Thursday 22 November 2018


Dr Lisa Lobry de Bruyn, Senior Lecturer, University of New England

Dr Lisa Lobry de Bruyn works as an academic at the University of New England, Armidale NSW. She has conducted research on soil health and its management over a range of topics, including: the examination of large soil biota in soil functioning, use of soil biota as indicators of soil health, and understanding farmers’ soil sense and use of indicators, and other measures such as soil testing for monitoring of soil change and informing land management decisions. She has also conducted research into practice change evaluation and qualitative research into farmer’s information seeking behaviours, and decision-making environments. The cornerstones of effective decision making for a land manager is being able to monitor their activities and learning from them. Lisa is an advocate for participatory research, and a hallmark of her research has been to engage farmers in the research process, by working on their land and neighbouring native vegetation. Her research gives land managers a voice to express their local knowledge on soil and their experiences in managing soil. It acknowledges their important role in managing an environment that is experiencing unprecedented change. Her research will lead to improved soil monitoring practice and knowledge sharing on sustainable soil use. Her research is recognised internationally through citations placing it in the top 1% for her discipline and cited by researchers from 82 countries and 154 institutions.

Presentation topic: Connecting soils knowledge to the community: the reasons and means

Presentation details: Friday 23 November 2018

Professor Alexander McBratney, Professor of Digital Agriculture & Soil Science, Director, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, The University of Sydney

Alex McBratney holds BSc, PhD and DSc degrees in soil science from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and the DScAgr degree from the University of Sydney for research in precision agriculture. He has made major contributions to soil science through the development of the concepts of Pedometrics, Digital Soil Mapping, Precision Agriculture and Soil Security. Alex is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and is listed by Thomson Reuters as a Highly Cited Researcher. In 2014 he was awarded the VV Dokuchaev medal by the International Union of Soil Sciences, which is the highest honour in the soil science discipline.

After completing his PhD work at Rothamsted Experimental Station in the UK, Alex spent seven years with CSIRO Division of Soils in Brisbane. Alex joined the University of Sydney in 1989. He has just completed terms as Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and Chief Editor of the global soil science journal, Geoderma. His current role is Director of the multi-disciplinary Sydney Institute of Agriculture. He is heavily involved with the activities of the International Union of Soil Sciences, having served as Deputy Secretary General, and the global digital soil map project, GlobalSoilMap. Currently he is helping to develop and promote the concepts of Global Soil Security and Digital Agriculture.

Bibliographically, Alex. papers can be found here .
Here are links to two recent books; one on Global Soil Security and one on Pedometrics .

Presentation topic: Soil Science in the future: Adding value and security in the 21st Century

Presentation details: Friday 23 November 2018