Discovering brown gold beneath our feet

9 October 2006

Forget your stocks, bonds and savings, its actually soil that makes the world go round and more than 150 soil science delegates will be in Rotorua later this year to prove it.

Scientists, farmers and government officials will team up to discuss current issues like nutrients and water quality, nitrogen inhibitors, greenhouse gases, soil carbon, and sustainable land use at the “Soils and Society 2006” Conference, in Rotorua, in November.

The conference is being organised by Ensis on behalf of The New Zealand Society of Soil Science (NZSSS).

Ensis is the unincorporated joint venture between Crown Research Institute, Scion and CSIRO in Australia.

With a record breaking number of registrations, conference organisers have just acquired permission to raise capacity numbers to accommodate more people who do not want to be left out.

“It is no surprise to me that our numbers are so good. The state of our soils can affect a lot of people across many industries. Forestry, dairy and horticulture are among New Zealand’s main industries and all of them rely heavily on soil,” says Ensis senior scientist, and conference coordinator, Dr Guna Magesan.

“It is a known fact that 17 per cent of New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depends on the top 15 centimetres of our country’s soil,” he says.

It has been estimated that a total of $2.16 billion of New Zealand’s GDP could be at risk if the country fails to maintain and manage the quality of its soil and water resources.

“In addition, the water quality of our lakes especially in Rotorua, is a significant issue for New Zealand and soil is an effective natural water filter which will be investigated further at the conference,” says Dr Magesan.

The “Soils and Society 2006” Conference will feature two and a half days of technical sessions and a full-day field trip.

Oral and poster presentations will take place at Rydges Hotel, Rotorua and they will include keynote speakers like Don Stafford, a New Zealand historian who will be focusing on Rotorua’s history, Greg Carlyon, from Horizon Regional Council who will speak on ‘Protecting our Greatest Resource’, and Rick Vallance, CEO of Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands Inc who will speak on ‘New perspectives on researching soil and pasture platforms for our farming systems’.

On the second day, the conference’s field trip will visit a farm where delegates will see first hand how land and soil are formed and how they work together to solve environmental issues.

For more information on the conference please visit New Zealand Society of Soil Science website