The Soil Hugger is back – HAPPY WORLD SOIL DAY 2018!!!

Hello to All,

Today marks the 3rd anniversary since I stopped delivering you lovely folks my posts on everything from Bergamot to Crane Flies, DIY plant pots to soil macro fauna extraction kits, and seed raising to pest inspections. I am sorry to have been gone so long.  However, 2019 will bring a new range of posts from our learning curve on the farm. But before I move onto where we are now,  I thought I would give you a pictorial history of the past three years with some snippets of descriptions…. let’s see if I can finally construct a blog that is less than 1500 words!

Cue the Benny Hill theme music….

CHAPTER 1 – PhD – Bringing Carbon Modelling to the Farm Gate

Field Sampling (with the permie nut, aka my guru, aka my absolute lifesaver!):

With some doing it pretty tough…                       And then nature called things to a halt….

Bit of soil sifting and grinding:

Carbon and Nitrogen analysis – combustion at ~1800°C and collection of gaseous products in different chambers for weighing.

Carbon Nitrogen analysis

Particle Size Analysis – the Jar Shake Test for the OCD among us. Many many steps to get all particles in suspension, then pipette out suspensions at a given depth and after a given settling time. Then you oven dry and weigh the result. The gorgeous range of colours in the field soils make it all worth while!

Water Repellency Testing – not as scientific as it sounds! Water dropped on soil surface and observing penetration time if <260 seconds (Water Drop Penetration Time – WDPT). Then Water+ethanol in increasing concentrations dropped on the soil surface until its penetration time is <10 seconds (Molarity of Ethanol Droplet Test – MED).


Bioassay and AMF analysis – growing Dalkeith Clover in a greenhouse within the field sampled soils and then counting the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on the stained roots under a microscope.

 And then lots of modelling (of the computer kind)…

Once my work is in the public domain, I’ll link a copy for you of my SWARM (South West Australian RothC Modelling) tool for the determination of soil carbon tuned to south WA conditions and structured for land manager rather then scientist use. I’ll also link the presentation I did which takes you through the model, but for now, you’ll just have to wait.

CHAPTER 2 – Kids Stuff – From big things, bigger things grows…. Nature Play at local primary school.

Through a laps of concentration at a school P&C meeting, I accidentally became the designer, logistical interface and site manager for the construction of a nature play – with a huge amount of help from some wonderful friends. What an experience, but what a result. (Did I mention how grateful I was to permie nut for all his patience, ideas and sharing the blood, sweat and tears!?!?)

CHAPTER 3 – Bit of Travel …. to a Soil Research Institute of course… Rothamsted Research and the 6th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter. Still can’t believe how lucky I am!

Seed and soil archives – head here for more info – absolutely awesome to walk among this bottled history. (The link here is really worth a visit). “The Rothamsted Sample Archive (RSA) was established by Lawes and Gilbert in 1843…Samples consist of ground and unground wheat grain, straw, soil and herbage together with fertilisers, manures and lime from the Rothamsted Long-term Experiments (LTEs). In addition, several thousand soils collected from around the world in the 1920’s-50’s are stored in the archive together with samples from discontinued experiments. About 1200 crop & 200 soils samples are added annually.”

I felt like Po, the Kung Fu Panda, in the Hall of Warriors and I met so many ‘Master Shifu’s!!!!

UK Trip2

CHAPTER 4 – Planning a future – Deep breath, here we go again…. stepping into the unknown – but that is a whole other story. Everything has been a learning!

(And this is just a small glimpse at the inside challenges!)

So as you can tell, it’s been a crazy few years, but I am so excited to be back and to transition our learning journey onto a rural landscape. I look forward to resuming our Journey together.

Til Next Time.



1 thought on “The Soil Hugger is back – HAPPY WORLD SOIL DAY 2018!!!

  1. Carole

    Welcome back, beloved Soil Hugger!!!

    It really hhas been a vvery bbusy ttime for you, hasn’t it???

    Glad you’re back, and iin no danger of bboredom 🙂



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s