NSW DPI soils scientist among world's top ten

Dr Yin Chan
A world authority on earth worms and soil carbon, NSW DPI principal research scientist based at Richmond, Dr Yin Chan.

Soils are regarded as one of the last frontiers - the base support of all life on dry land, and according to the respected international journal Soil & Tillage Research, scientific interest in soils is growing.

Soil & Tillage Research recently analysed trends in use of articles published since the journal’s inception in 1980, which occurred under the umbrella of the International Soil Tillage Research Organisation.

Among the top 10 articles published in the period from 1996 to 2005 were articles from NSW Department of Primary Industries principal research scientist, Dr Yin Chan, on earth worms and soil carbon.

During this period, the soil-related topics of most interest were: soil organic matter, nitrogen cycling, agricultural systems, impacts of tillage on soil properties, soil structure, compaction and conservation tillage.

A review in Soil & Tillage Research listed the research institutions which contributed to the 10 most frequently cited articles published in the 10 years to 2005.

Only one was from Australia - NSW Department of Primary Industries’ forerunner, NSW Agriculture.

The author of the review, Dr Alan J. Franzluebbers, from the United States Department of Agriculture also outlined emerging themes in soils research.

These include:

  • developing sustainable approaches to satisfy global food security;
  • discovering the nature of soil biodiversity and how this might both be effectively used, but also protected;
  • revealing the complexity of soil as a membrane that controls energy flow and gas-solid-liquid fluxes among the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere;
  • using soil as a biogeochemical reactor for industrial and urban by-products;
  • creating soil and tillage systems for food and fibre production systems that adapt to variable and warmer climate scenarios, and
  • conducting research in unison with the goals of the International Year of Planet Earth (www.yearofplanetearth.org) in 2008.

Dr Chan was lead author of these two top 10 articles: An overview of some tillage impacts on earthworm population abundance and diversity - implications for functioning in soils, Soil & Tillage Research, Volume 57, Issue 4, January 2001, Pages 179-191, K. Y. Chan, and Soil carbon fractions and relationship to soil quality under different tillage and stubble management, Soil & Tillage Research, Volume 63, Issues 3 to 4, January 2002, Pages 133-139, K. Y. Chan, D. P. Heenan and A. Oates.