Hosted by Western Sydney University (WSU), the annual Soil Biology Masterclass aims to provide core knowledge and principles of soil biology and health in management practices.
The Masterclass content is targeted towards proactive, innovative growers across the horticultural and agricultural sectors. It’s also suitable for consultants, advisors and agronomists seeking to unlock new value from cropping operations.
It would be of great use to anyone seeking to understand the benefits of soil biology as a driver of healthy crops and healthy foods in sustainable production environments. The knowledge gained could be incorporated into agribusiness enterprises to help sustainably increase productivity and profitability within these enterprises.
The Masterclass in a nutshell
A full two-day program aims to expand attendees’ understanding of how new research is driving renewed interest in soil health as a function of overall farm productivity. Those attending will learn about:
- the latest research in soil biology and health;
- the role played by microbes in nutrient availability for plant growth and resistance against pests and diseases;
- the future direction of research, technologies and practices in the field of soil biology;
They’ll also have opportunities to network with the presenters and other experts in the field.
More specifically, the masterclass schedule includes information about:
- the history of soil biology and agriculture;
- diversity and functions of soil microbes that drive productivity;
- nutrient cycling of nitrogen, carbon and other nutrients;
- plant and microbial interactions;
- soil fauna that influence soil biology and activity; and
- integrating soil health methods into practice.
Special Guest Presenter Stuart McAlpine
Stuart McAlpine runs a 5,000-hectare farm in Buntine, in the Northern Agricultural Region of Western Australia. His property has a wide mix of soil types. Stuart grows mainly cereal crops as well as running sheep. McAlpine’s leading edge farming practices, including his adoption of a biological farming system with much lower inputs, earnt him selection as the Northern Agricultural Region’s 2015 Soil Health Champion.
Professor Brajesh Singh
An internationally recognised expert in the field of microbial ecology, Prof. Singh’s research interests encompass functional microbial ecology, climate change and environmental biotechnology, with a particular focus on the role of microbes in ecosystem function and environmental sustainability.
Dr Uffe Nielsen
Dr Nielsen is broadly interested in community and ecosystem ecology, and in how changes in one influence the other, especially important in a time in which large-scale changes in land use and climate are impacting ecosystems across the globe.
Dr Jonathan Plett
Dr Plett’s research aims to identify and understand how signals are sent and perceived by plants and their associated microbiota so as to be able to better coordinate development and enable this ecosystem to survive under less-than-ideal conditions.
Dr Catriona Macdonald
Dr Macdonald investigates the impacts of environmental change on nutrient cycling and resource allocation within terrestrial environments. Her research aim is to better understand how environmental changes affect nutrient cycling and ecosystem functioning and how this in turn impacts the productivity and sustainability of soils.
Facilitator: Dr Kelvin Montagu – Colo Consulting
Dr Montagu is a professional facilitator in the conservation sciences field. As well as facilitating, he’ll be describing ways cover crops can be used to manage soil biology.
When and where
The Masterclass is scheduled to take place over two days, 4 and 5 August 2021, on Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Campus.
Pricing and registration
The cost of registration is $395 per person and includes a tour of HIE’s research facilities and a networking dinner.
Prospective attendees are encouraged to register by 18 June 2021.