UQ students get down and dirty for national soil judging competition

6 October 2017

UQ School of Agriculture and Food Science students weren’t afraid to get a little dirt on their hands to compete in the fifth National Students Soil Judging Competition held in Toowoomba from 26 to 28 September.

Team UQ (Ms Chelsea Stroppiana, Ms Chloe Lai, Mr Jason Choong, and Ms Sara Forsyth) competed in a field of 48 students from 12 universities in Australia and New Zealand who attended two days of hands-on field practice.

Coach and research fellow/lecturer in soil and environmental sciences, Dr Ryo Fujinuma said the students described three soil profiles (two profiles as a team and one profile individually) during the competition.

“Soil judging events such as these help facilitate and encourage the next generation of soil professionals,” he said.

“These events contribute by helping students hone their abilities to characterise soil types, and they connect students with industry professionals.

“Over the course of the competition, the students gain expertise in understanding soils from different regions and determining the overall land use suitability.

“The School hosted a practice round by providing four practice soil pits (two permanent soil pits on the Gatton campus and two pits at the UQ farm).”

Dr Fujinuma congratulated Team UQ, which finished 4th overall, with only a small margin separating them from the 3rd place winners, the University of South Australia.  Jason Choong finished third in the individual competition.  

Dr Fujinuma said he and fellow coach, lecturer in soil fertility Dr Cristina Martinez were grateful to Acting School manager Peter Brady, lecturer in soil chemistry Dr Bernhard Wehr, and Gatton Property and Facilities staff who organised the instalment of an additional permanent soil pit in Gatton campus and set up the two practice pits at UQ farm.

The competition concluded with an awards dinner on September 28 attended by the Federal Member for Groom, Dr John McVeigh.