An Orange soil scientist has become the first person outside of university professors and CSIRO scientists to win a prestigious award.
The JA Prescott Medal for ‘exceptional contributions to soil science’ has been awarded since 1972 and Dr David McKenzie, who runs his own business in Orange, has become the first commercial scientist to receive the medal.
Dr McKenzie said he was pleased to receive the award after his business Soil Management Designs has been based in Orange for 21 years.
“I am the first in private practice to win it,” he said.
“I’ve kept up my attendance at conferences and the writing of papers. I’ve kept my hand up in scientific circles.”
There are a lot of grain producers who are not even close to high performance due to soil problems.Dr David McKenzie
He has worked on a range of projects from soil assessment for the establishment of the Indian sandalwood plantations in northern Australia to measuring agricultural resource conditions for mining in NSW.
Dr McKenzie said his favourite project had been assessing soils in the Orange region for the wine industry in 2010.
“It’s terrific to do a soil assessment, wait a few years to see it develop and then be able to drink the wine,” he said.
Dr McKenzie said a lot of his work was practical for farmers and land users.
He is currently working on a project to assess land for grain growing from Queensland to Victoria.
That includes area of NSW around Parkes, Forbes, Trundle and Condobolin.
“There are a lot of grain producers who are not even close to high performance due to soil problems,” he said.
Dr McKenzie received the award at the National Soils Conference gala dinner in Canberra two weeks ago.
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