Obituary—Des Cowie Where is loess (and why) Kevin Tate by ggy86211


									Obituary—Des Cowie
Where is loess? (and why?)
Kevin Tate retires
 New Zealand Soil News
newsletter of the New Zealand Society of Soil Science
                                                                                 ISSN 0545-7904
 volume 53                    Number 3                                               June 2005

editorial                                                             A Campbell              68

obituary                   John Desmond Cowie                         H Wilde                 69

articles                   Where is loess? (and why?)                 I Smalley, Z Jary       70
                           Kevin Tate retires                         T Baisden               75

news from correspondents                                                                      77

nzsss                      President’s comments                        J Adams                86
                           Council meeting minutes 13 June 2005                               87
                           Notice of N.Z. Society of Soil Science 2005                        91

for your information       Dates for 18th World Congress of Soil Science                      92
                           Coast of SE Queensland                                             92

Abstracts                                                                                      92
H Di et al.                A pilot regional scale model of land use impacts on groundwater
B Turner et al.            Extraction of soil organic phosphorus
P Haygarth et al.          The phosphorus transfer continuum: Linking source to impact with an
                           interdisciplinary and multi-scaled approach
G Ganjegunte et al.        Effects of mixing radiata pine needles and understory litters on
                           decomposition and nutrients release
C Gray & R McLaren         The effect of ryegrass variety on trace metal uptake
R McLaren et al.           Leaching of macronutrients and metals from undisturbed soils treated
                           with metal-spiked sewage sludge. 3. Distribution of residual metals
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by Alistair Campbell

When I first started working at Lincoln College (as it then was), I lived in Christchurch and had yet to
buy my first car. I traveled to and from work by Days’ bus, and the trip took around 20 minutes.
Today, it takes at least double that. When traveling between Lincoln and Christchurch by car, Pat and I
now avoid the Sockburn roundabout, especially after 3.00 pm. We travel to and from central
Christchurch via Halswell. Unfortunately, others are catching on, and at certain times of the day,
traveling along Lincoln Road can also become painfully slow. Parking charges in Christchurch are
also climbing, although they are still nowhere near those of downtown Auckland or Munich. We have
both bought Metrocards. These allow us to travel to Christchurch, use the buses there all day, and
return to Lincoln for $9.00 ($4.50 each), or the cost of four and a half hours parking. If we don’t need
the load carrying capacity of the car, it makes sense to leave it at home.

We spent three sabbaticals working at the Freising campus of the Technical University of Munich.
Freising is some 45 km north of Munich. We soon gave up driving to Munich by car, even although
there was a large, free parking building on the outskirts of the central business area that we could
reach down a motorway. We did try it twice, but after that simply walked (or if wet drove) to the
Freising Bahnhof (railway station) and caught the train to Munich. The ordinary trains completed the
journey in 20 minutes (one stop), while the suburban trains (S bahn) completed the journey in less
time that it now takes to bus from Lincoln to Christchurch, roughly half the distance.

Each weekend in 1999, for the equivalent of NZ$35, the two of us (plus three Kinder and an Hund, if
we had them) could travel not only to and around Munich, but anywhere in Germany. We could even
use some of the ferries on the Bavarian lakes. We could spend Saturday looking at Roman ruins
around Passau (on the Danube) and Sunday at the Zeppelin museum in Friedrichshafen, or the salt
mines around Berchtesgarden. We could even climb the Zugspitse. Every railway station in Germany
has a large, free car park. Parking and riding (the trains) was the norm. The trains were fast, safe,
frequent, comfortable and cheap. If only somebody had had the foresight to ensure that Auckland had
developed such an efficient public transport system.

The above thoughts were prompted by the recently released ‘Greater Christchurch Urban
Development Strategy’. This was a collaborative initiative from the Christchurch City Council,
Environment Canterbury, Transit New Zealand and the Banks Peninsula, Selwyn and Waimakariri
District Councils. The local newspaper, The Press, outlined four options (the status quo and options A,
B and C) and residents were invited to attend local meetings, complete a feedback form, and make
submissions. The four options were:

      the status quo, which would see future development spreading out around the greater
      Christchurch area, with the four councils pursuing independent growth strategies,

(A)   concentrating development in Christchurch city, and the larger towns of Rangiora, Kaiapoi and

(B)   balancing future urban development between the existing built up areas, with some expansion
      into adjacent areas, and

(C)   the dispersion of development around the greater Christchurch area away from existing
      established urban areas.

Indications of the strengths and weaknesses of the four options were provided. The 20-page Options
booklet devotes a mere nine lines to discussing the loss of productive land associated with the four
options, and in a table indicates that Option A would require the loss of the least area of currently
productive land, and Option C, the most. Nowhere did it mention anything about the relative quality of
the soils in the area.

I attended the meeting in Lincoln, and both my wife and I made separate submissions. We favoured
Option A, stressed the need to protect the most productive soils, and indicated that much of the future
growth should be concentrated in the towns along the remaining railway lines. This week, The Press
has reported that 63% of submissions favoured Option A.

Environment Canterbury is looking at the possibility of a rail link between Rolleston and Christchurch
and a pre-feasibility study is due out this month (June). Meanwhile in this week’s Central Canterbury
News, the Selwyn Mayor is reported as saying that ‘while the proposal might have some long term
benefits it would be a long time before there would be enough people to use it’ and he indicated that
‘buses would be a better option’. A councilor noted that ‘the railway station at Rolleston was a long
way from the town and people would have to walk or drive to catch the train and then walk or catch a
bus at the other end’.

These observations are true, but the only alternative to rail may well be unacceptable congestion in the
future. Why not shift the Rolleston station closer to the centre of the town? Alternatively, buses that
are able to travel on both rails and road are currently operating elsewhere. Such a bus could leave from
the centre of Rolleston, use the railway to Christchurch, and then head for the bus exchange. The
Christchurch railway station is certainly not where most rail users would wish to go, but the railway
lines still run past the old station, and shuttle buses stop opposite. The public will need encouragement
to park and ride and leave their cars at home when visiting Christchurch. The sooner that
encouragement starts the better.


John Desmond Cowie 1926–2005

We were saddened to learn of Des
Cowie’s death in March this year.

Des Cowie joined the Soil Bureau of
DSIR as a cadet in 1946 when Les
Grange was Director and later completed
his MSc in Geology at Victoria
University. After graduating, he took
part in soil surveys in Central Otago and
the Wairarapa before moving to Foxton
to work in the Manawatu sand country
during the 1950s. During the Wairarapa
surveys, notably in the Greytown
District, Des and his colleagues used
bicycles to travel around the survey area,
overcoming the shortage of government vehicles assigned to soil surveys. After a short time in Foxton,
Des moved to the DSIR Grasslands Division campus near Massey University, where he was based
until 1978, when he transferred to Soil Bureau Taita to become Chief Soil Correlator.

Des had other research interests besides his soil survey work: with Harold Wellman he further
developed his MSc thesis work, producing the first papers to describe Manawatu loess deposits and
the Aokautere Ash, a key stratigraphic marker bed. He also advanced ideas about Manawatu dune-
building periods through published papers.

Des spent part of his working life overseas. Early in his career he worked in Western Samoa, and in
1958 took his family to Hobart and spent a year working with his Australian counterparts. In 1968, he
and his family went on a two-year assignment with the UN in Thailand where he worked as a national

soil correlator. During the late 1970s Des worked in the Kingdom of Tonga, producing a soil survey of
Tongatapu Island.

Des was a very easy person to get along with, always willing to share his considerable soils knowledge
with younger staff. Those who worked with him during their early careers included Brian Kear, Gary
Orbell, Wim Rijkse, Geoff Mew, Gilbert Smith and Hugh Wilde, and technicians Dave Kimpton and
Pat Brophy. An unrepentant smoker, Des always generated a dense cloud of cigarette smoke around
his desk—but it was worth enduring for the advice and companionship he gave so readily.

Des retired from the Soil Bureau in 1984 and went to live on his small farm at Manakau near Otaki
where he continued his love of the soil, growing asparagus and raising a few sheep and cattle.

Des will be best known for his legacy of useful and accurate soil maps, particularly the Manawatu
sand country and Kairanga County soil surveys. His work on the Palmerston North urban soil survey
was published in 1974, and later became pivotal to the Palmerston North Urban Growth Strategy. It
continues to be used by Palmerston North City Planners. His wife, Valerie, and their three sons, John,
Alan and Colin, survive Des.

Hugh Wilde


Where is the loess? (and why?)

Ian Smalley
Centre for Loess Research & Documentation, Leicester University, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.

Zdzislaw Jary
Institute of Geography & Regional Development, Wroclaw University, Wroclaw, 50-137 Poland.

Loess is widespread in New Zealand. Eden & Hammond (2003) reported that loess 1 m or more thick
covers at least 10% of New Zealand’s land surface and soils with a loessial component cover
approximately 60% of the country. Loess occurs mostly on late Pleistocene or older river terraces and
marine benches. It is also present in soils developed on downlands and hills, especially downwind of
river floodplains. Deposits vary greatly in thickness, with maximum of about 20 m. The loess has been
derived mainly from dust deflated from broad, braided, river floodplains, usually by prevailing
westerly winds. The dust was largely produced by cold climate processes (e.g. freeze and thaw and
perhaps glacial grinding) in mountain areas, and by river abrasion, comminution and fluvial sorting. If
a category is required it might be described as ‘mountain’ loess.

Within this small but perfect summary of NZ loess we detect three factors that need to be discussed in
a simple, but wide-ranging, study of worldwide loess distribution. How is the loess material formed
(and do material forming processes have a role in the description and classification of loess?); how is
the loess material moved across the landscape—what is the role of the different transportation
processes? and how and where is the material deposited? Make, move, place—and possibly some
thoughts on post-depositional processes in so far as they affect the basic, recognised nature of a loess
deposit, or a loess-derived soil, or loess ground, need to be considered. In general the silty, modal,
material for loess is made by very energetic geo-processes and as a result loess is associated with
places where there was large late-Tertiary and Quaternary geo-activity (as Chesworth (1982) so
percipiently pointed out). Long distance transport of loess material is by rivers (e.g. from the Canadian
border to the Mississippi delta; from the Alps to the Black Sea)—which is followed by a short aeolian
move, which introduces most of the characteristic properties into the deposit. And the deposition is
where formation and transportation factors allow it to be. There is a lack of information on the actual
mechanics of deposition; Cegla (1972) did some sterling pioneering studies, but this is the neglected
loess factor. Rates of deposition are now being studied (see Eden & Hammond (2003), Derbyshire
(2003)) and this will stimulate interest in the deposition process.

China was no.4 in the Smalley Vita-Finzi (1968) list of important loess deposits but in terms of
significance and size and chronological potential and history of investigation it has to be the first, the
‘primus inter pares’, the deposit against which others are measured. The material for the Chinese
deposits comes from High Asia, that region where crustal overlap has produced the highest land and a
continuing high level of geo-tectonic activity. High Asia is the classic zone of high geo-energy and
this has the effect of producing vast amounts of silt material (see Assallay et al., 1998). Silt moved to
the east contributes to the massive and widespread deposits of north China. Silt moved to the south
provides the rich alluvial soils of northern India; material moving west supplies the loess deposits of
Central Asia. One can still read accounts of the Chinese loess material coming from the ‘northern
deserts’ and this is a sort of half-truth. Much material goes into deserts and then progresses to become
loess, but the origin of the material lies in the high, cold, active regions of High Asia. This could also
be called mountain loess. The Yellow River moves material, and moves it again to form the North
China Plain. The make, move, place sequence is fairly clear for China.

The Central Asian loess was no.3 on the Smalley Vita-Finzi list (NZ loess was no.7). The mountains
are the Tien Shan and the rivers are the Syr’Darya and Amu’Darya. It is mountain loess again, but
there is still a surprising amount of discussion and controversy centred on these deposits. A long and
complicated story could be told, starting perhaps with Pavlov and his ‘proluvial’ and ‘deluvial’ loess
ideas, but the local workers are still much influenced by Mavlyanov’s ‘complex’ theory (see Jefferson
et al., 2005).

The European loess is complex. We consider the conjecture by Smalley & Leach (1978) that European
loess can be divided into two types: loess in the Northern band, and loess in the Danube basin. The
Northern band loess was identified as glacial loess, ice-sheet loess, and particle making was ascribed
to the actions of the Quaternary cold-phase glaciers which made up the great North European
continental ice sheet. Smalley & Leach stated, very confidently, that the Polish loess was glacial loess;
but now that we know a little more about mountain loess, and look at the courses of the Odra and
Wisla rivers, this certainty looks a bit misplaced. However it seems likely that the loess in Britain is
glacial loess (see Jefferson et al., 2003a), and so is the loess in the northern parts of France. But the
more interesting loess in Europe is the southerly loess, the Danube basin loess, the loess in Hungary,
Romania, Bulgaria etc. This is mountain loess; a major source of loess material is the Alps,
particularly the Alps in cold-phase time, and the material was transported to the east by the Danube
River. This was a process identified and pointed out by Smalley & Leach, but while they identified the
Alps as major particle suppliers they were surprisingly reticent about conferring major particle making
status on other European mountains. In fact the Carpathians have a large contribution to make and
even the Sudeten Mountains and the Dinaric Alps contribute material. Hungary is a remarkably loess-
rich country and it gets its loess from two main sources. Not just the Alpine loess delivered by the
Danube but Carpathian loess delivered by the River Tisza. Two great loess streams flowed into
Hungary (which is why Marton Pecsi was president of the INQUA Loess Commission for three inter-
congress periods). If loess material was delivered to the south of the Carpathians to augment the
Hungarian loess it is logical to assume that material travelled north. This is the material which might
contribute to loess near Lublin and Krakow. And possibly near Wroclaw as well- this is the south-
western loess and it is of great interest because of its position, about midway between the Sudeten
Mountains to the south, and the limits of the most recent glacial advance to the north. So is it glacial
loess or mountain loess? It would be useful if an unambiguous test existed which could settle this

Loess in Russia; loess written about in the Russian language, loess in the Soviet Union, loess in
countries that were part of the Soviet Union (in particular Ukraine and Uzbekistan)—some precision
and terminological care is required here. Russian loess is loess like everywhere else but for around 50
years it was separate because of political barriers which were imposed on the scholars and students of
the world, and recent history has not helped with sudden, huge boundary changes. We have to grow
used to writing about loess in Uzbekistan, in Ukraine, in Russia, but in the literature from the
relatively recent past we still have Soviet loess. As far as we can see, nobody attempted to do a broad
classification of Soviet loess and certainly no-one indicated source regions for particles and possible
transportation paths. The first tentative attempts at a very simple outline were by Jefferson et al.
(2003b) and they proposed dividing Soviet loess into seven regions. This was attempted largely on the
basis of the Abelev & Abelev (1968) map and it has to be seen as a very simplistic view of a complex
and vast loess region. When communications with the Russian speaking world have improved further,
no doubt substantial improvements can be made. Seven proposed regions:

West—the western regions. By far the largest and most important region, which is essentially Ukraine-
centred. The large river is the Dnepr which brings material from the glaciated north.
The Caucasus. A small region; local loess deposits made of material derived from the Caucasus
Middle Asia and southern Kazakhstan. This is the Central Asian loess—discussed above.
Western Siberia: Orsk-Omsk. This is a difficult region, as was acknowledged by Jefferson et al.
(2003b). In fact the whole concept of Siberia is difficult. It is hard to find an authoritative map which
defines the borders of Siberia; Siberia appears to be more a concept, rather than a cartographic reality.
It would be convenient to be able to write about ‘The Loess of Siberia’ but the boundaries are fuzzy.
However, the task should be attempted because the Siberian loess will be of great interest in the future;
large deposits will become more accessible to scholarly scrutiny. The western part of the Orsk-Omsk
region is associated with the Ural River which flows from the Ural Mountains to the Caspian Sea.
Abelev & Abelev show deposits all down the Ural River from Orsk. The east of this region stretches
towards Omsk and the Irtysh River. Abelev & Abelev show an extensive deposit all along the Irtysh
south of Omsk, a striking illustration of a loess deposit associated with a river. The Irtysh delivers
material directly from High Asia to the eastern part of the zone. This is mountain loess again.
Tomsk-Barnaul. In this region we have river channels flowing to consolidate into the River Ob, with
deposits stretching south from Tomsk. Loess material from the south; rivers flowing north.
Kansk-Krasnoyarsk. In this region Abelev & Abelev showed an interesting loess region associated
with the Yenisei River. The town of Kansk serves as a locator. Yenisiesk represents the northern limit.
Loess material from the mountains to the south. Again mostly carried by large north flowing rivers.
Irkutsk. The most easterly of the deposits; the deposits near Irkutsk lie along the Angara River. The
geographical position of these deposits suggest a particle origin in the mountains to the south, with
major transportation by the Angara River. Lake Baikal possibly has an important role to play; there are
300 streams feeding into Baikal, but only one outlet, the Angara River. Baikal may be an intermediate
source for loess material.

The package of Soviet loess was dominated by great rivers: the Dnepr, Amu-Dar’ya, Syr-Dar’ya, Ural,
Irtysh, Ob, Yenesei, Angara. The Dnepr, the river of Ukraine, supplied the large western deposits with
glacial material; the rest of the Soviet loess was mountain loess, largely carried north out of High Asia,
or to the west towards the Aral Sea. In the barest outline we can now see feasible make and move
patterns, but it must be emphasized again that this is the sketchiest of outlines; much study and
discussion is required in this region.

In North America the Rockies provide mountain loess and the continental glaciers of the northern ice
sheet provide glacial loess. The loess system is basically defined by the two great rivers—the
Mississippi and Missouri which move loess material from north to south and provide interesting
deposits en route. The state of Iowa is completely defined by the rivers (forming the eastern and
western boundaries) and receives loess material from each one. The cold-phase glaciers made a lot of
Canada available for distribution throughout the rest of North America and as they waned the cold
Rocky Mountains took over as chief source and added the final layers to the continental stratigraphy.

The loess in Idaho, in Washington State and in Alaska can be described in terms of make and move,
there are source regions available. The lack of loess in Canada may require more detailed
consideration. There is virtually no loess in Canada; Sweeney & Smalley (1986) attempted an outline
survey of the whole country, but little loess is available for description and investigation.

It appears that the large continental glaciers, believed to be major suppliers of loess material, simply
delivered this material into the marginal zones, whence it was transported south by the great rivers.
There must be more loess in Rocky Mountain, Canada than has been appreciated—a careful search
would probably reveal interesting deposits. There is certainly some near Kamloops—there must be
Smalley & Vita-Finzi (1968) listed seven worldwide loess deposits. No ranking was implied, they
were simply pointing to the visible deposits, those that had a viable literature attached. They were
1. Europe (which included western Russia, and Ukraine); 2. Israel and the Middle East; 3. Central
Asia; 4. China; 5. North America; 6. South America; and 7. New Zealand. Israel would not rank on
any list of major loess deposits but the 1968 paper was on ‘desert loess’ (the paper that launched the
great discussion) and a significant amount of the literature on desert loess emanated from Israel.
Although the Israel deposit is small it has, like the equally tiny UK deposit, generated quite a
substantial literature. Its not just dust on the ground that counts; it’s also people on the ground. A
certain scholarly density is required to launch any deposit into view, and this problem has certainly
affected the South American deposits. There are large and significant loess deposits in South America
but it only now that they are beginning to make an entry into the world literature. Zarate (2003) has
written an elegant review; he identified Teruggi (1957) as a significant paper, in many ways the start
of South American loess studies. Iriondo & Krohling (2004), working in this volcanic world, want to
introduce new aspects into the make process—they wish to add volcanic silt particles, which has a
certain resonance to the well known ‘tephric’ loess in NZ.

The minor deposits. That’s not a good term; just because a deposit is small in area does not necessarily
make it minor. Significant loessic data may emerge from small deposits. Or it may be appreciated that
large deposits which were thought not to fit the loess criteria might actually be controlled by the
factors which we now recognise as major loess factors. This obviously applies to the Australian
material; there is wind blown silt in Australia, and arguments are being advanced that it should be
included in ground category ‘loess’. We quote Hesse & McTainsh (2003):
‘Australian soil scientists have, in the past, tended to isolate themselves from the international loess
community, by emphasizing the differences, rather than the similarities, between their loess soils and
overseas examples… As a result, Australian soil scientists have not played a significant role in
international loess debates, such as the desert loess debate… As the recognised Australian dust
mantles have field characteristics in common with loess, particularly their massive earthy fabric, there
is no good reason, in our view, to exclude these deposits from the broad usage of the term loess.’
(Hesse & McTainsh 2003, p. 2026).

The desert loess debate is largely played out in Africa; around that greatest of deserts, the Sahara. If
deserts generate loess material then the Sahara will be surrounded by great loess deposits, but it
manifestly is not. Albrecht Penck, many many years ago, was pointing out that the Sahara lacked a
loess girdle, but there are minor deposits on the perimeter which deserve study and explanation.
Problems of terminology and usage arise here, and some peripheral discussion is required. We define
‘large dust’ and ‘small dust’; large dust is airborne material in the coarse and very coarse silt size
ranges, usually around 20–60 µm; small dust is airborne material in the fine and very fine silt ranges,
say around 2–6 µm. There appears to be a distinct bi-modality in the world of airborne dust. The large
dust travels in low suspension, for relatively short distances—say 50–100 km, and forms the basis of
loess deposits. The geo-energy deployed at the make phase goes into producing these large dust
particles. The small dust goes into high suspension and can travel for thousands of kilometres.
Australian small dust falls on NZ; African small dust falls on the UK. At the centre of the desert loess
problem is the lack of any specifically desert process which makes large dust size particles. We see
vast amounts of dust rising from the Sahara desert, in particular from the region of old Lake Chad—
but this is largely small dust, mostly on its way towards the west, out over the Atlantic Ocean. This is
the small dust which fell on Charles Darwin as the Beagle sailed past on the Royal Navy’s most
significant voyage. This is the small dust which falls on the Canary Islands and forms the Canary
Islands’ loess which, on examination, turns out to have a mode size of 5 µm.

The particles lifted from Africa have certain similarities with particles lifted from the inland basins in
Australia (a comparison made by McTainsh 1989). A size control operates in lake sediments which
tends to restrict derived particle size to the small dust range. A Monte Carlo simulation (Evans et al.,
2004) shows how packing factors restrict particle size. It was widely believed that Saharan dust
somehow contributed to loess deposits—but it is not, by and large, the sort of dust which forms
traditional loess deposits.

However, if the loess world is to be carefully expanded, as Hesse & McTainsh (2003) propose, it is
these lake-derived sediments which will have to be considered. If large dust particles are derived from
old lake basins and blown into position to form a distinctive deposit it seems reasonable that this
deposit might be known as loess. Should this terminological allowance be extended to small dust
deposits? This may not be a large problem; by the very nature of its transportation mode (in high
suspension over long distances) the small dust tends to be widely dispersed. It occurs as an admixture
in many soils, often far down wind of source, but it tends not to form a distinctive separate deposit.
The Canary Islands loess could be an exception, one of a very small number of small dust deposits.

The silt-sized clay-agglomerate particle, usually derived from an old lake bed could come to rank
alongside coarse quartz silt as a significant loess material component. This would open up Africa and
Australia to students of loess and may provide some relatively exotic connections. Jefferson et al.
(2002) have proposed that deposits in the Triassic of the English Midlands are very similar to aeolian
deposits in Quaternary Australia, so possibly Leicester and Nottingham are underlain by ancient desert
loess deposits.

The world of loess deposits will expand; there is loess in the Burren region of Ireland which has never
been specifically investigated; there is loess in Saudi Arabia which is currently the topic of a major
investigation; there is probably enough loess in Siberia to keep a whole generation of scholars fully
occupied. Remember how recently it was that we realised that the North Island has significant and
important loess deposits…

Abelev, Yu M, & Abelev, M Yu 1968, Fundamentals of design and construction on collapsible macroporous
    soils. 2nd.ed. Stroiizdat, Moscow. 431p. (in Russian; loess distribution map reproduced in Jefferson et al.,
Assallay, A M, Rogers, C D F, Smalley, I J, & Jefferson, I.F. 1998, Silt: 2–62 µm, 9–4 phi. Earth Sci. Rev. vol.
    45, pp. 61–88.
Cegla, J 1972, Sedymentacja lessow Polski (Loess sedimentation in Poland). Acta Univ. Wratislav. 169, Studia
    Geogr. 17, 71p. (in Polish, long English summary).
Chesworth, W 1982, Late Cenozoic geology and the second oldest profession. Geoscience Canada vol. 9, pp.
Derbyshire, E. (ed.) 2003, Loess, and the dust indicators and records of terrestrial and marine
    palaeoenvironments (DIRTMAP) database. Quat. Sci. Rev. vol. 22, pp. 1813–2052.
Eden, D N & Hammond, A P 2003, Dust accumulation in the New Zealand region since the Last Glacial
    Maximum. Quat. Sci. Rev. vol. 22, pp. 2037–2052.
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Kevin Tate retires
28 April 2005

by Troy Baisden

Friends, family and colleagues of Dr Kevin Tate filled Landcare Research’s Massey University site on
Friday, 28 April to celebrate his retirement. Kevin carefully chose the time to celebrate this milestone.
He leaves the FRST-funded Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Terrestrial Biosphere
Research Programme in excellent health, as New Zealand enters the era during which the Kyoto
Protocol comes into force—an appropriate time for ‘changing the guard’. As one might expect, Kevin
cannot be replaced by a single person and his responsibilities have been spread among three of us.

Whilst Kevin’s retirement celebrates his shedding of administrative duties, the first speaker at Kevin’s
retirement captures the real meaning of this event. Des Ross retired as Kevin’s superior in DSIR over
22 years ago and continues to enjoy his science full time without the burden of administration. Des
drew us through nearly all of Kevin’s career, noting a range of extraordinary achievements including
recognition as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Kevin made pioneering contributions in
areas including soil radiocarbon, pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, C and P nuclear
magnetic resonance (NMR) and the development of New Zealand’s C inventory and C budget. Among
these, perhaps the most notable achievements include the application of cross-polarization NMR to
soil organic matter—published in Nature—and the measurement of the ATP charge of soil

Bruce Campbell, now a senior manager for HortResearch, brought us closer to the present, describing
Kevin’s guiding contributions to climate change science in NZ. These included NZ’s first terrestrial C
inventory (Tate et al., 1996), NZ’s first terrestrial C budget (Tate et al. 2000) and Kevin’s
longstanding role on the National Science Strategy Committee for Climate Change. Richard Gordon
and David Whitehead, who supersedes Kevin as the leader of the research programme in Landcare
Research, both described the essential role that Kevin has played within the institute in unifying
research on the mitigation of terrestrial greenhouse gases. Richard in particular recognized the
essential and supportive role that the Tate family has played in Kevin’s success.

Acknowledgement of Kevin’s role as a unifying research leader continued as several others spoke
briefly and informally. Perhaps the most poignant of those remarks was from Gerald Rys (MAF
Policy), noting that Kevin has stood out uniquely as a scientist who has been able to inform policy
over the last decade.

As the speakers made their remarks, I noted that unique nature of Kevin’s office was sorely under-
represented (see Figure 1). This ‘storage system’ appears at first to lack order, but one quickly learns
that Kevin not only possesses an inimitable archive of information—he can rapidly find almost any
element contained in those teetering piles! Kevin’s piles also hold a symbolic lesson that has been best
expressed by the American conservationist Aldo Leopold:

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all of the pieces.

In addition to summarizing the nature of Kevin’s office, this lesson extends to Kevin’s approach to
science. As he moved from detailed biochemistry to national inventories and budgets, he will be
remembered for using the best published and archived information including both nationally
significant databases (e.g., Vegetative Cover Map and National Soils Database) and processed-based
information (e.g., rates of labeled ryegrass litter incorporation into soil captured by the ROTHC
model). And Kevin knows that keeping all of the pieces goes beyond the databases and papers that
have been produced: he remains an advocate for maintaining human capability; in other words, people
with the understanding to make sure that our soils and ecosystems are looked after.

                  Fig. 1 Kevin Tate and his inimitable stores of data on New Zealand soils.

It is a fortunate tradition that retirees have the last word—the opportunity to reflect on all ‘the pieces’
of their career. In doing so, Kevin expressed his deep regard and gratitude for all his colleagues over
the years, noting that it was impossible to thank all of them fully. He expressed his regret that some
key colleagues were unable to attend due to important meetings in Austria on Kyoto implementation.
Some of the lessons Kevin could highlight from his career included recognizing New Zealand
scientists as very much the equals of their international counterparts and recognizing the
environmental science community as the radar screen for issues of national and global importance.
Kevin also recommends disbelieving those who say, ‘It can’t be done’, when your instincts tell you it

Kevin concluded by noting that for science to underpin a vibrant future for the nation, we must address
the issues of unstable and declining funding (in ‘real’ dollars) and the perception that science is not a
viable career for young Kiwis. Kevin strongly advocates investing in the next generation of scientists
through education and mentoring underpinned by 75% core funding—a level allowing scientists to
develop their careers. Anyone doubting that this is possible (and advocating reliance on ‘commercial’
science funding) should consider the ‘acid test’ of whether we can sell science to the next generation:
in Kevin’s vision for the future, bright young Kiwis will choose careers in science only when scientists
are rightfully recognized as a cornerstone of a sustainable economy, society and environment.

news from correspondents

AgResearch Invermay
In early May, Jeff Morton, Dave Houlbrooke and Jim Paton attended a field day at the North Otago
rolling downlands research site for land use change intensification (LUCI) at Windsor. They delivered
results from the first year of soil quality and forage production data comparing dryland vs irrigated,
cattle vs sheep and pasture vs crop, and results of 60 North Otago monitoring sites comparing soil
quality under steady state (dryland farming) and intensified land use (irrigated). The following day,
Dave attended a slightly different type of delivery: those of their twin girls, Emma and Jessica.
Congratulations to Dave and his wife Clare!

Ross Monaghan, in conjunction with Bruce Thorrold (Dexcel), contributed to a Dexcel Road Show
to discuss developments in improved land management practices for dairy farms in Southland and
Otago. Ross and colleagues at Invermay also met with Land Resource Officers from Environment
Southland and Otago Regional Council to discuss future research needs relating to surface water

Richard McDowell, Jim Paton and Cecile de Klein attended field days at newly established Deer
Focus Farms in Otago and Southland. Richard is leading a research programme at these focus farms to
identify sustainable land management practices for deer farming.

Crop & Food
Erin Lawrence who has been working with Mike Beare and Craig Tregurtha on land management
monitoring as a technician, has recently been promoted to a Scientist. Erin will still be working with
Craig, Mike and Colleen Ford in this area.

As a follow up to the last edition, the Soils Back to Front volleyball team were not likely to receive the
wooden spoon this year and ultimately ended up 6th overall. Well done to the combined soil and
agronomy team!

Forest Research
Forest Research has re-branded itself to Scion on 27 May 2005. Scion is a group of knowledge-based
business entities with a shared vision of developing sustainable biomaterials for future generations.
The major research areas are Commercial forestry R&D, Biomaterials research, and Sustainable
consumer products. Ensis—a joint venture between CSIRO and Scion has been formed and our soils
related work will come under Ensis. More information on this in the next issue. So you will all notice
changes in email addresses of people working in previous Forest Research. Also, please note that our
research centre in Rotorua has been renamed as Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park.

Haydon Jones successfully defended his PhD thesis, entitled ‘Impacts of forest harvesting on the
performance of soil-landscape modelling in a radiata pine forest, northern New Zealand’, which he
submitted towards the end of 2004. Haydon is a recent addition to the carbon team. He contributes to
the carbon monitoring system field programme during the summer and is also developing research into
the impacts of forest harvesting and site preparation on soil carbon stocks. He is also developing
research links with the forestry industry.

John Lavery has been in Chile recently, helping the Universidad de Chile (Santiago) complete a three
year programme examining the impact of biosolids application in forest plantations over three regions.
The programme was completed successfully with seminar and workshop for the government funding
body, FONDEF, which was well received with lots of interest. The University and Forest Research are
working on several other collaborative opportunities together.

Gujja (G N) Magesan has rebranded his name as Guna Magesan. Guna means 'character, quality or
property' in Sanskrit, mother of most Indian languages. Gu Na. are initials in his language, similar to G
N in English.

Number of short-term research students are coming from European universities to work in the Centre
for Sustainable Forest Management (CSFM). Guna Magesan, being the student placement
coordinator for CSFM, has been busy lately finding the right project, accommodation, etc.

Landcare Research, Palmerston North
In February this year, Donna Giltrap visited Changsheng Li at the Institute for the Study of Earth,
Ocean and Space at the University of New Hampshire, where she worked on the NZ-DNDC model.
NZ-DNDC is a process-based model for calculating greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils.
As a result of this trip, the model has been updated, and has been used to estimate anthropogenic N2O
emissions for the Manawatu-Wanganui region. The overall N2O emission for this region is 2.9 ± 0.7
Gg N2O-N y-1 (see figure below). Total N input for the region was 244 000 tonnes, making the emitted
percentage around 1.2%.

Benny Theng has been invited as a keynote speaker to the Special Symposium for the 18th World
Congress of Soil Science. The theme of the Congress, which will be held in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania in July 2006, is Frontiers of Soil Science, Technology and the Information Age.

Our local geomorphologist, Mike Page, has been invited to take part in a Landslides Guidelines
Steering Group. The group was initiated by GNS, and its role will be to oversee the development of
planning guidelines for landslide-prone areas. The guidelines are aimed at local government planners
working in resource management and land use.

Eminent scientist Kevin Tate has retired after many years of serving science. His most recent role was
programme leader for the Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Terrestrial Biosphere
Research Programme. Kevin has taken on a new role here at Landcare as a research fellow and we’re
sure that his good work will continue for many years to come.

Congratulations to Guodong Yuan, who has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study Canadian
research and development in hydrogen energy and fuel cell technology. Guodong will be in Canada
for about 1 month.

As part of the World Expo, the Greenhouse Gases Group hosted 6 Japanese students from Aichi. The
focus of the students’ visit was to learn more about climate change and science and technology.
Accompanied by their teacher and an interpreter, the students received a welcoming speech on climate
change from Kevin Tate before being taken to a local dairy farm by Surinder Saggar, Carolyn
Hedley and Suzanne Lambie for an introduction to the methods used for measuring carbon dioxide,
methane and nitrous oxide.

Lincoln Environmental
The Hamilton team has recently focused pretty much on our ‘SPYDIA’ vadose zone project in the
Lake Taupo catchment. Greg Barkle has been busy in the field, finalising the installation procedures
for the equilibrium tension plate lysimeters (ETPL’s) and monitoring instruments. Meanwhile, Jan
Mertens, Aaron Wall and Olaf Andler have been fabricating and testing instrumentation in the lab
(see photos).

             Photo 1: Olaf Andler checking the calibrations of 30 tensiometers for the SPYDIA.
               Photo 2: Jan Mertens testing the conductivity of the plates used in the ETPL’s.

Lincoln University
Two short-listed candidates for the Lecturer in Soil Science position presented seminars to the Soils

Graeme Buchan spent three weeks in Europe in April-May. He presented a paper ‘Pathogen transport
from land-applied animal wastes’ at the European Geosciences Union Assembly (EGU 2005) in
Vienna. He then continued his ongoing collaborations with BOKU, the University of Natural
Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna. These collaborations include joint research in soil
physics with Professor Willi Loiskandl; and also the management of an innovative, international
Masters degree, now taught jointly by BOKU and Lincoln University: the ‘Master of Natural
Resources Management and Ecological Engineering’ (MNaRMEE). The first cohort of Lincoln
University students taking this degree will transfer to Vienna in September 2005. Graeme also visited
and gave a lecture at the Czech University of Agriculture in Prague.

Before leaving Austria, he decided to consolidate his long-standing interest in Earth’s subsurface, and
in salt-affected soils, via some (deep) subsurface ‘research’—namely an excellent, highly
recommended visit to a salt mine in Salzburg (i.e. the ‘city of salt’).

Our congratulations to Janet Bertram who was awarded the NZSSS Undergraduate Prize for 2004.
Janet will be commencing PhD studies with us in July.

A PhD research seminar proposal was recently presented by Shabana Khan entitled ‘Emissions of
nitric oxide and nitrous oxide from urine patches in grazed pastures’; also Shaun Burkett, who has
just completed his MSc thesis, gave a seminar on his research entitled ‘Transformations, mobility and
modelling of triazine herbicides in New Zealand soils’.

Massey University
In April 2005, after 35 years at Massey University, Dr. Max Turner retired from his position in the
Soil & Earth Sciences Group. Max began working at Massey in 1970 and whether it was trace

elements, Magnesium or Web based teaching, it was always at the leading edge, at the time Max was
working on it. He retains contact within the department in a consultancy role as a co-supervisor of a
PhD student, but is more interested these days in turf culture of the recreational type, and is
determined to bring his handicap down as the retirement years roll by.

Professor Nanthi Bolan visited Adelaide to evaluate funding proposals for Cooperative Research
Centre (CRC) for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CARE). Nanthi is
one of the International members of the Research and Technology Committee of CRC-CARE.

CRC - CARE has been awarded a $30 million grant in the Australian Government's 2004 CRC
Selection Round. The goal of this CRC is to develop a risk-based approach to remediation leading to
improved regulatory acceptance of commercially viable and cost-effective solutions to environmental
contamination. Professor Ravi Naidu (Ex-Massey Graduate), Director of University of South
Australia’s Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, is the leader of the CRC -

Shane Cronin, Karoly Nemeth (new FRST PostDoc working with Shane on volcanic hazards in
Vanuatu) and Rachel Crimp (MSc) student made a grand field tour of Vanuatu and the Solomon
Islands during most of April. Rachel surveyed children for dental fluorosis downwind of the active
volcanoes on Ambrym and Tanna as well as collecting food, water and animal bone samples to
characterise volcanic F inputs into human diets and environment. Meanwhile Shane and Karoly
traipsed, boated, and 4WD'd around each of these volcanoes to unravel their geological backbone and
characterise their historic and prehistoric volcanic behaviour. Shane and Karoly also travelled to Savo
volcano in the Solomon Islands to carry on research of this ticking time-bomb, only 30 km offshore of
Honiara. Shane hastily finished work here in 1999 during the ethnic tension that gripped the Nation.
These conflicts in the Solomon's seem to be under control now, with a multinational Pacific policing
force giving many people hope for the start of economic rebuilding in the area. The two volcanologists
had an audience with the Prime Minister of the Solomon's, Sir Alan Kamekeza, who, being a Savo
native, is most concerned at the prospect of renewed volcanic activity on his island which has been
dormant for c.150 years. The major impression Shane had of the Solomon's on this visit was that there
was a buzz of consultant activity (Australians mostly) with many new projects underway including the
restarting of the oil-palm and gold-mining industries.

Karoly Nemeth and Rachel Crimp munching sugar cane on the way to Yasur volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Waikato University

Professor Darwin Anderson, Professor of Soil Science at the University of Saskatchewan in
Saskatoon, has left after six months leave with us. Earlier this year Darwin gave a talk on soil-
ecological successions in Sakatchewan and how the isotope analysis of carbonates was useful in
reconstructing paleoenvironments of these soils.

Darwin Amderson (right with hat) and David Lowe (left with cap) and pedology students preparing to examine a
Podzol Soil on Holocene dunes at Marsden Point, Northland, in April this year. Photo: Dave Palmer.

Dr Geoff Corner, an Associate Professor in Quaternary geology and sedimentology at the University
of Tromso in Norway, which lies within the Arctic Circle at around 70° N, has given two first-class
talks in the department, one on the glaciology and sedimentology of fjords and sea-level change and
another on large rock slides in fjords. Geoff, originally from Durham in the U.K., is due to return to
Norway at the end of June.

Dr Rewi Newnham, a Reader in palynology and Quaternary environmental change at the University
of Plymouth, U.K., spent around six months in New Zealand including about a month at Waikato
University working with Associate Professor David Lowe and a jointly-supervised PhD student
Maria Gehrels. Rewi returned to the U.K. in early May.

Professor Gerald Wefer, Professor of General and Marine Geology at the University of Bremen,
Germany, and Director of the Ocean Margins Research Centre, visited the Department in March as
recipient of a von Haast Foundation Award. He gave a talk on the OMRC activities and discussed
possible collaboration with staff undertaking research on abrupt climate change at Waikato, including
Dr Penny Cooke (Postdoctoral Fellow, Comer Science and Education Foundation), Associate
Professor Chris Hendy, and David Lowe. The Department has established formal collaborative links
with Bremen University and is expecting three German masterate students to enrol at Waikato next
year in a joint Waikato-Bremen MSc degree.

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Louis Schipper has been appointed a Senior Lecturer in soil
science in the Department of Earth Sciences. Louis, currently working for Landcare Research in
Hamilton, takes up the position on 1 July, 2005. He writes:
‘I was born in Australia to Dutch parents and have since lived in New Zealand, Western Samoa and
Florida at various times. Married to Angela from Nebraska, I have two Kiwi kids Daniel (8) and
Christina (5). This leaves me with somewhat of an identity crisis. I was educated mainly at the
University of Waikato, although I did my PhD at Forest Research in Rotorua on nitrogen cycling in
riparian zones. Subsequently, I was a postdoc at the University of Florida looking at microbial
methane cycling in wetlands. I came back to New Zealand in 1994 to work at Landcare Research
where I have been a FRST programme and objective leader and occasional researcher in a range of
topics including soil quality assessment and nitrogen budgeting at national scales, nitrogen and
carbon dynamics in soil, land treatment of wastes, wetland biogeochemistry, and soil biodiversity.’

        Louis Schipper at Lake Tahoe, U.S.A., after a conference on riparian ecosystems and buffers.

Louis is already involved in supervising two of our PhD students and will bring strong links with
Landcare Research, Forest Research, and a number of other outside organisations to the School of
Science and Engineering.

We are proud to announce that Professor Cam Nelson was awarded the Royal Society of New
Zealand’s Hutton Medal in November last year. This prestigious award was in recognition of Cam’s
outstanding contributions to research in sedimentology and paleoclimatology over many years.

David Lowe, together with Dr Alan Hogg (Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory), attended a two-
day workshop in early April on dating kauri and its potential for reconstructing palaeoclimate for the
period Oxygen Isotope Stage 3 and for calibrating the radiocarbon timescale in this period. Based
around two NERC and Marsden-funded research programmes, the meeting was convened by
dendrochronologist Dr Jonathan Palmer and participants included overseas scientists Professor
Mike Baillie (Queen’s University of Belfast) Dr Chris Turney (University of Wollongong), and Dr
Keith Fifield (ANU) (see photo). While in New Zealand, Mike gave a talk to a sell-out audience at
Waikato University on the central role that tree-ring dating has played in rewriting the history books
for the past 1000 years.
Some of the participants in the Kauri OIS3 workshop photographed in the excellent Kauri Museum at Matakohe
(Northland) that provided the venue. From left, Drew Lorrey, Professor Mike Baillie, David Lowe, Associate
Professor John Ogden, Dr Alan Hogg, Dr Donna D’Costa, Dr Chris Turney, Dr Keith Fifield, and Dr Jonathan
Palmer. Photo: Anon.

David Lowe is taking 12 months’ sabbatical leave from July this year. He will be starting his leave by
attending the second NZ-INTIMATE meeting in Lower Hutt in early July and then travelling to a
specialist tephra conference, ‘Tephra Rush’, being held in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada, in
August. He plans to visit Professor Jim Begét and Professor Mary Keskinen at University of Alaska
at Fairbanks and Darwin Anderson in Saskatoon after the meeting. Jim and Mary were visitors in the
Department of Earth Sciences in 1994.

Café scientifique
Café Scientifique was set up in Europe to enable the public to get first-hand information from, and
interact with, the publicly-funded scientific community and has become extremely popular and
successful in Europe, North America and Australia. Meetings are held in cafes or bars, restaurants and
possibly theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context. In Hamilton, the culture has been
led and developed very successfully (with audiences up to ~65) by Waikato University scientists Dr
Penny Cooke (Earth Sciences) and Dr Alison Campbell (Biological Sciences) who began late last
year with the topic ‘Drugs, genes and the olympics’. Usually Penny or Alison provides a brief
overview of the subject in ‘layman’ terms and then the floor is opened for questions and discussion
between the audience and one (or more) specialists in the discipline who come along to provide the
expert’s perspective. This year the following topics, held at approximately six-weekly intervals, have
been discussed: ‘Hobbits and humans: closer than you think?’, ‘Climate change—should we be
worried?’, ‘Stem cells—madness or miracle cure?’, and ‘The human genome—our genes, ourselves,
our past.’ Subjects for future meetings possibly include ‘First settlement of New Zealand—from
whence and when?’ and a soil-related topic would be worthy such as ‘Save our soils or pay the price?’
(title borrowed from the NSW bumper stickers given out at the SuperSoil 2004 conference in Sydney).


Congratulations are due to Haydon Jones who successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled ‘Impacts
of forest harvesting on the performance of soil-landscape modelling in a radiata pine forest, northern
New Zealand’. Haydon has been working at Forest Research in Rotorua since January. Karsten
Zegwaard has submitted his PhD thesis ‘Effects of cattle treadng on soil physical properties and
pasture productivity’. Current PhD students involved with soil or landscape related topics include
Susan Jonkers (originally from The Netherlands) ‘Nutrient limitations on organic matter
decomposition by microbes’, Scott Fraser ‘Effects of forest ecosystems due to application to soil of
pulp and paper waste solid residues’, Malcolm McLeod (Landcare Research) ‘Soil distribution,
characterisation and vulnerability to human impact in the Wright Valley, Antarctica’, Dave Palmer
‘Towards site quality determination for plantation forest soils, New Zealand’, Sally Gaw (in
Department of Chemistry) ‘Aspects of the bioavailability of historic pesticide residues in horticultural
soils’, Will Esler ‘Stratigraphy and history of the Rotorua Basin since c. 220,000 years ago’, Tom
Whittaker (originally from the U.K.) ‘Abrupt climate change in southern New Zealand’, Brendan
Roddy (originally from Australia) ‘Sediment generation under varying land uses, Coromandel’, and
Anthony Keen ‘Properties of wetland ecotones’. Maria Gehrels, enrolled at University of Plymouth,
is working with Waikato scientists on her PhD ‘Reappraising the current volcanic hazard assessment
for the North Island, New Zealand, using cryptotephrostratigraphy’. Christian Fritz (originally from
Germany) is working on an MPhil on peatland hydroecology and landscapes.

A swag of MSc students have recently completed and submitted their theses. These include Brendon
Welten ‘Groundwater and nitrate movement in response to variation in cropping regime and stocking
rates, Waikato’, Janine Sedgwick ‘Contamination and remediation of soil at a former orchard site,
Hamilton’, Debbie Dewar ‘The fate and extent of contamination at historical sheep-dip sites in the
Waikato’, Bruce Murdoch ‘Holocene evolution of Ohope barrier spit, Bay of Plenty’, Emma Moffit
‘Vermiculture and gas-plant contaminated sites’, Katrina Browne ‘Ecohydrological characterisation
of Opuatia wetland’, and Blair Thornburrow ‘Fluxes of CO2 and water vapour from Opuatia
wetland’. Emma Moffit has a job with Earth Science and Environment in Auckland, and Blair
Thornburrow has a job with SKM Consultants, Auckland.

Current MSc students working on soils-related thesis projects include Erica Hoftsee ‘Soil mapping
and ground water characterization at Cape Hallett, Antarctica’, Fiona Shanhun ‘Characterisation of
key soil units in the Wright Valley Antarctica’, Stacey O’Driscoll ‘The effects of ground probe
aeration on selected soil properties’, Dan Spelchan ‘Policy mechanisms for managing nitrogen
emissions from agricultural landuse’, and Jeremy Cole-Baker ‘Sedimentology and
tephrochrochronology of late-glacial to post-glacial transition in western South Island’. Students new
to the MSc programme who are enrolled in the graduate soil science paper and others who are likely to
be involved in soils-related research include Dolan Hewitt, Lisa Pearson, Natalie Watkins, John
Mitchel, Candice Young, and Jessica Bell.

New XRF facility
The Department of Earth Sciences has recently installed (in March) a new SPECTRO X-Lab 2000 X-
ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF). Built in Germany, it has the newish feature of polarization of X-
rays which significantly reduces background, thus conferring advantages of (a) improving the
peak/background ratios without affecting the peak intensities, thereby enhancing the detection limits,
and (b) reducing the background intensities so that more peak intensities can be counted for the same
detector dead-time, that parameter that usually limits the precision. Associate Professor Roger Briggs
has been burning the midnight and weekend oil to help get the system calibrated and functioning as it


president’s comments

Welcome to all NZSSS members. It’s time again to report on Council activities, particularly on our
recent June telephone meeting. Discussion mainly centred on
•      the OECD Environmental Review
•      the Showcasing N.Z. Soils initiative
•      conferences.

OECD Environmental Review

During 2005/2006, a team of specialists from the OECD is reviewing N.Z.’s environmental
performance. This is the second such review following the first in 1995/1996. Its emphasis is the
implementation of domestic and environmental policy and the integration of economic, social and
environmental decision-making.

The current review included discussion with independent experts. The Royal Society coordinated this
and sought contributions from constituent societies. Council member Jacqui Horswell represented
NZSSS at this meeting on Friday 10 June. We were one of very few societies who took advantage of
the opportunity so our submission undoubtedly registered.

Our submission was based on a paper delivered to the Land Treatment Collective meeting earlier this
year by Council members Chris McLay and Jacqui Horswell on behalf of NZSSS. It dealt with the
broad areas of protection of high-class soils, land-use impacts, funding of soil-related research,
postgraduate training and how soil science can contribute and has contributed to N.Z.’s environmental

Showcasing N.Z.’s Soils

Jacqui is also spearheading this initiative. She has put considerable work into preparing a funding
proposal for submission to the Royal Society Science and Technology Promotion Fund. The proposal
seeks funding to prepare a design brief/concept plan. We will keep you informed of developments.


Conferences supported or organised by NZSSS this year and next are

•    combining with the N.Z. Hydrological Society and the International Association of
     Hydrogeologists Australian chapter in their 2005 conference in Auckland from 28 November to
     2 December. Details of this conference were provided in the April issue of Soil News and are
     repeated in this issue. We strongly recommend it to you.

•    NZSSS conference in Rotorua. Guna Magesan is well into planning for our biannual
     conference, which will be held in late November. As usual it will encompass all areas of soil
     science under the theme of ‘Soils and Society’. A preliminary budget and programme have been
     prepared and details will be in Soil News later in the year. Rotorua is a neat place and an ideal
     venue. Please start making arrangements to attend.

John Adams
Soil and Physical Sciences Group
Lincoln University
Minutes of a meeting of the NZSSS Council held via teleconferencing on
Monday 13th June 2005 at 1 pm
J Adams (Chair); P Fraser (minutes); P Stephens; J Horswell; N Bolan; C McLay (minutes); G
Magesan; B Clothier (briefly); A Mackay (briefly).

‘That apologies be accepted from P Singleton and C de Klein. Apologies for very early departure from
B Clothier and A Mackay.’

Minutes of previous meeting
‘That the minutes of the meeting of 7th February 2005 be confirmed as a true and accurate record.’

Matters arising from minutes
• Action: Trish to check with Cecile about whether she has managed to sort out getting Summit
  Quinphos awards monies in advance in future.
• Money has been paid to Walker Award recipients.
• Peter Stephens followed up on conference with Hydrological Society.
• Chris and Jacqui attended Land Treatment Collective meeting in Auckland.
   o Feedback was basically that in principal they agreed with our position, but they were reluctant
       to actively get involved with Government departments etc. They did show interest in being
       kept in touch with developments, however.

A.   Items for General Business

Approval of Agenda
As Brent and Alec had to leave the meeting very early it was proposed that we first of all discuss item
12 SLURI. With that amendment it was moved ‘that the agenda be approved’.

SLURI (Sustainable Land Use Research Initiative)
A proposal to FfRST is currently being prepared to enable continuation of this research initiative that
was initiated last year.

Current discussions are being held between the various CRIs involved to outline the content of this
new programme, but at present it is likely that a number of existing programmes will be tracked into
this initiative to make the programme an $8.7 million programme overall. The details of this will be
ironed out over the next 6 months during a programme of negotiation between all the parties involved,
with a view to the programme getting properly underway from 1st January 2006. It is likely that the
programme will be rather ‘OBI-like’ but cannot be called an OBI (outcome based investment). It will
have a series of intermediate outcomes built into it with milestones and achievement records.
Commercial activities can also take place under the SLURI banner and already there is one
commercial contract underway. The main driver is for the best teams to be put together to conduct the
research activities.

**********Alec and Brent left the meeting.**********

The Treasurer’s report was tabled in her absence:

Financial report 5 February 2005 – 8 June 2005
Subscriptions                                                                $2,559.13
Reimbursement IUSS membership                                                   445.92
Book sales                                                                    2,580.00
Summit Quinphos Award 2004                                                    4,000.00
Total                                                                        $9,585.05

Soil News Postage March & May 2005                                            $442.57
Educational Solutions March & May                                             1,142.69
Council travel Feb 2005                                                       1,151.20
Royal Society membership fee                                                  1,287.57
General expenses                                                                 19.20
TW Walker awards                                                                200.00
Massy Uni Student support SuperSoil                                           2,400.00
IUSS subs (including bank fee)                                                $445.92
Total                                                                        $7,089.15

As expected, the costs of producing Soil News have significantly gone down since going electronic
(the costs have already more than halved). Costs for postage are currently down by about 40%. These
costs could actually be further reduced if all members were to supply email addresses and/or were
happy to accept an electronic rather than a hard copy version of Soil News.

Members                                            Soil News
Ordinary members                      260          Library Subscriptions                    18
Student members                        30          Free copies                               7
Corporate members                       1          Total                                    25
Honorary members                       10
Retired members                        33
Life members                           12
Total                                 346          Grand total                            371*

*plus 30 members who have been temporarily suspended for non-payment of their subscriptions for 18
months or more.
Action: Reminder letters to be sent to the 30 members who have been suspended.

Membership changes since last meeting
New ordinary members
C MacDonald (ESR)
J Peck (ESR)
V Allison (Landcare, Lincoln)
S P Flynn (Stonebread Ltd, Christchurch)
Glenys Wallace (Massey)
Karin Mueller (AgR)
Colleen Ford (C & FR)

New student members
Chris Ford (Lincoln Uni)
Z T Gheshlaghi (Lincoln Uni)
J E Bertram (Lincoln Uni)

New retired member
Nabil Soliman (Auckland)

It was moved ‘that applications for membership for all those listed above be accepted.’
P Fraser/ P Stephens—carried
G Palmer
C Burgess
A Souness
K Perrott

It was moved ‘that resignations from all those listed above be accepted.’
P Fraser/ P Stephens—carried

Soil News
Overall its production is currently well on track.

Peter Stephens proposed a vote of thanks to all those involved in the development of the electronic
version and congratulated them on the outcome.

Trish reported that Soil News is presently being sent out to 36% of our membership by electronic
means. An additional 22% have indicated that they presently prefer to receive a hard copy (but we
have also been supplied with email addresses for the majority of these members). So we do now
presently have current email addresses for 56% of our members. The remainder of members (42%)
have either not indicated their preference or not yet supplied their current email address to us (i.e. 18%
of the membership have not indicated their preference and have not supplied an email address;
whereas 24% have supplied email addresses in the past, but they have not updated them in recent
times). By default we are presently sending a hard copy sent either where preference not declared or
email addresses have not been supplied or are not up to date. 21% of the membership have never
supplied us with an email address at all—either because they do not have one or because they have not
replied to any of our contact details update requests.

Nothing to report.

The Norman Taylor award is in hand and will be announced in due course.
John thanked Nanthi for forwarding the award information.

Showcasing of NZ Soils
Jacqui has been busy working on this. She has what sounds like a very reasonable quote from a
company called DOT to manage the project for us. They would put together a display and brochure
and an exhibition concept design into which the NZSSS would be expected to contribute ideas. It is
proposed that an application for funding be put forward to the RSNZ to follow up on this concept,
with a view to us being helped to achieve the activities by engaging DOT (or another similar
company) to do the ground work. Jacqui would like feedback from Council members on her proposal
by 4th July please as the application is due on 7th July. It was suggested that a copy of the final
proposal could be inserted into the next issue of Soil News.

Links with ASSSI
The dual membership and Oceania Soil Federation concepts previously tabled are going to the ASSSI
Council for their consideration.
Dependent on their interest level it is assumed that these concepts will develop over time.

Australian Journal of Soil Research
A lot of contributions are coming in from NZ and the content of these papers is also good.
There is a special issue on Water Repellency coming up soon.
The next meeting of the Editorial Advisory Committee will be held in September via teleconference,
so please let Chris know if there are any issues that need to be tabled at this meeting.

World Wide Web site
Action: The old conference info needs removed and the new conference info added.
Sustainable land management
OECD meeting
Jacqui attended a meeting in Wellington with an 8 member panel of the OECD, where environmental
performance of NZ over the last 10 years was discussed. There were about 20 attendees; mostly
economists. The RSNZ representative made an excellent presentation. Overall participants at this
meeting appeared to hold a completely different vision to the one put forward by MfE.

In the last OECD round, NZ pushed for environmental monitoring, but in reality we don’t necessarily
know what we should be monitoring….

Environment Waikato
Chris McLay outlined that there are two major developments at Environment Waikato at present that
the NZSSS Council will be interested in. Firstly, a variation to the Waikato Regional Plan is to be
proposed next month (i.e. released to the public) that will effectively require most farming operations
in the Lake Taupo catchment to require consents. The plan is part of a package to maintain lake water
quality in its present state in the future and is based on regulating N losses to the lake. This is the first
time that consents will have been proposed for land used for pastoral agriculture in New Zealand. At
the same time, parts of the original Proposed Regional Plan are being contested by various parties
through the formal appeal processes and are to be heard by the Environment Court in late June. The
submission by Ecologic to the court is that fertiliser use in some catchments should require resource
consent in order to ensure the objectives of water quality in those catchments are achieved. The
implications of the decision that the court makes on the Ecologic decision could be considerable for
pastoral agriculture throughout New Zealand. (As a footnote, the Environment Court dismissed the
ability of Ecologic to make their submission on a technicality. However, these arguments may well
arise in other areas in the future.)

Education and science fairs
John has contacted 23 fair organisers and so far 17 have accepted our book prize offer.

• IUSS Conferences
  o Philadelphia 2006—both Jacqui and Guna think they will be attending.
  o Brisbane 2010—Roger Swift has been made Chair of the Organising Committee.
       We need to give some consideration to whom might be an appropriate NZ rep on this
       committee as we are likely to be asked to help out at some stage.
       We may also be asked to organise pre- or post-conference tours through NZ as part of this

• 2005 Conference with International Hydrological Society
  o NZSSS member, Amy Taylor, from Auckland is helping with organising this conference on our
  o Some members had difficulties submitting their papers on-line.
  o There appear to be a ‘lot of chiefs’ organising the event which is proving hard to work with at
  o Action: John to investigate the possibility of extending the abstract submission deadline and to
      readvertising in next issue of Soil News.

• 2006—NZSSS Conference in Rotorua—‘Soils and Society’, November 2006.
  o Guna et al have so far investigated several options for a venue for this conference and at present
      ‘Rydges’ looks like the best option.
  o Advice was given to organisers to budget for the worst case scenario i.e. with no sponsorship.
      The last 2 meetings of this sort have had about 170 attendees.
  o Action: John to send Guna information relating to sponsorship from his experience in
      organising the last conference of this type.
  o It was moved ‘that $5000 be sent to SCION as an interest free loan from the NZSSS for the use
      by the 2006 conference organising committee. It is loaned on the understanding that the $5000
      be ultimately reimbursed to the NZSSS from the conference proceeds.’
• [Note: Australian conference to be held in Adelaide from 3rd–7th December 2006.]

• 2008—Major joint conference with Australian Society of Soil Science—to be held at Massey
   o Action: John to follow up with Vince Neall.

Nothing of particular note.

Next meeting
Tentatively on Monday 15th August 2005 via teleconferencing from 1 pm.
Action: Secretary to canvas Council members closer to the time.

                        NZ Society of Soil Science
                                        2005 conference
Council of NZSSS has arranged to join with the NZ Hydrological
Society for their 2005 conference. The conference is being jointly
organised by the NZHS and the International Association of
Hydrogeologists (IAH), Australian Chapter. Basic information on the
conference is given below with further details available from the
conference website.

        Conference theme: ‘Where Waters Meet’

        Topics:               include ‘Soils as the first filter of water’

        Location:             Auckland

        Dates:                28 November to 2 December 2005

        Key Dates:            Abstracts due 30 May 2005 but it may still be
                              possible to submit papers by contacting the
                              conference organisers at the conference
                              Earlybird registration 25 July 2005

        Conference website:

Council encourages all NZSSS members with an interest in the soil-
water interface to attend this meeting with our NZ and Australian
hydrologist colleagues.

John Adams
for your information

International Union of Soil Sciences

Important dates for the 18th World Congress of Soil Science

The dates for abstract submission and program development are:

September 15, 2005               Deadline for abstract submission at
January 1, 2006                  Convenors and co-convenors have finalized draft of scientific program
January 15, 2006                 Authors will be notified on the status of their oral or poster abstracts
May 1, 2006                      Presenters not registered will be dropped from program and abstracts
                                 withdrawn from the CD-ROM. Convenors and co-convenors finalize
                                 scientific programme

For a list of symposia see:

Coast of SE Queensland
Bill Ward has put an essay on the Web about south-east Queensland’s coastal landscapes. The title is
‘Coastal landscapes of Noosa, Cooloola, and Moreton and Fraser Islands’. This might be of interest to
any earth scientists or Quaternary geologists or pedologists who visit the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

The URL is:

The document is 22 pages long and takes up about 4 megabytes. It might take a few minutes to
download. There are several colour photos and line drawings.

The essay is written in plain language for lay people, secondary school and first-year university
students, and tourists as the potential audience.


A pilot regional scale model of land use impacts on groundwater quality
H J Di1, K C Cameron1, V J Bidwell2, M J Morgan2 and C Hanson3
 Centre for Soil and Environmental Quality, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand; 2Lincoln Ventures
Ltd, Lincoln, Canterbury, New Zealand; 3Environment Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Purpose – Major land use changes can have a significant impact on the environment, e.g. increased
leaching and run-off losses of nutrients and water contamination. Nitrate (NO3-) can be easily leached
and, when present at high concentrations in drinking water, can be a health hazard. This paper seeks to
report an easy-to-use computer model designed to provide predictions of possible impacts on
groundwater NO3- concentration on a regional scale.
Design/methodology/approach – The model takes into account NO3- -N concentrations from various
land use activities, land surface recharge rates (as affected by soil water retention capacity, land
management, irrigation and rainfall), and mixing of surface recharge and river recharge. Spatial
information on land use and groundwater recharge sources are lumped into groundwater management
zones (100–500 km2), and vertical concentration profiles of NO3- in groundwater are estimated from a
one-dimensional dispersion model. The model is applied to the 2,300 km2 Central Canterbury Plains
of New Zealand.

Findings – A scenario analysis for the Bankside groundwater management zone showed that the NO3-
-N concentration at the groundwater surface could increase from 7.8 mg N L-1 to 11.3 mg N L-1 if all
the land used for sheep farming is replaced by dairy farming (increasing dairy land from 21 per cent to
64 per cent of the total land area). However, the impact of such land use changes on the NO3- -N
concentration 50 m below the groundwater surface was relatively small, resulting in an increase of
NO3- -N concentration from 0.4 to 0.5 mg N L-1. This is because of the significant mixing of surface
recharge with river recharge at this depth.
Originality/value – The model can serve as a useful tool for first-order estimation of possible trends
of NO3- -N concentration profiles in aquifers as a result of land use changes.

Source: Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal (2005) 16 (3): 220–234.

Extraction of soil organic phosphorus
Benjamin L Turnera, Barbara J Cade-Menunb, Leo M Condronc, Susan Newmand
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 2072, Balboa, Ancon, Republic of Panama; bGeological and
Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; cAgriculture and Life Sciences, PO
Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury 8150, New Zealand; dSouth Florida Water Management District, 3301
Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406, USA

Organic phosphorus is an important component of soil biogeochemical cycles, but must be extracted
from soil prior to analysis. Here we critically review the extraction of soil organic phosphorus,
including procedures for quantification, speciation, and assessment of biological availability.
Quantitative extraction conventionally requires strong acids and bases, which inevitably alter chemical
structure. However, a single-step procedure involving sodium hydroxide and EDTA
(ethylenediaminetetraacetate) is suitable for most soils and facilitates subsequent speciation by nuclear
magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Analysis of extracts by molybdate colorimetry is a potential source
of error in all procedures, because organic phosphorus is overestimated in the presence of inorganic
polyphosphates or complexes between inorganic phosphate and humic substances. Sequential
extraction schemes fractionate organic phosphorus based on chemical solubility, but the link to
potential bioavailability is misleading. Research should be directed urgently towards establishing
extractable pools of soil organic phosphorus with ecological relevance.

Source: Talanta (2005) 66: 294–306

The phosphorus transfer continuum: Linking source to impact with an
interdisciplinary and multi-scaled approach

P M Haygartha, L M Condronb, A L Heathwaitec, B L Turnerd, G P Harrise
Soil Science and Environmental Team, Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, North Wyke
Research Station, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2SB, UK; bAgriculture and Life Sciences, PO 84, Lincoln
University, Canterbury 8150, New Zealand; cCentre for Sustainable Water Management, Lancaster
Environmental Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ; dSmithsonian Tropical Research Institute,
Box 2072, Balboa, Ancon, Republic of Panama; eUniversity of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia

This critical review introduces a template that links phosphorus (P) sources and mobilisation processes
to the delivery of P to receiving waters where deleterious impact is of concern. It therefore serves as a
key introductory paper in this special issue. The entire process is described in terms of a ‘P transfer
continuum’ to emphasise the interdisciplinary and inter-scale nature of the problem. Most knowledge
to date is derived from mechanistic studies on the sources and mobilisation of P using controlled
experiments that have formed the basis for mitigation strategies aimed at minimising transfer from
agricultural fields. However, our ability to extrapolate this information to larger scales is limited by a
poor knowledge base while new conceptual advances in the areas of complex systems and fractal
dynamics indicate the limitations of past theoretical frameworks. This is compounded by the
conceptual and physical separation of scientists working at different scales within the terrestrial and
aquatic sciences. Multi-scaled approaches are urgently required to integrate different disciplines and
provide a platform to develop mechanistic modelling frameworks, collect new data and identify
critical research questions.

Source: Science of the Total Environment (2005) 344: 5–14.

Effects of mixing radiata pine needles and understory litters on
decomposition and nutrients release

Girisha K Ganjegunte1, Leo M Condron2, Peter W Clinton3, Murray R Davis3
  Department of Renewable Resources, University of Wyoming, PO Box 3354 Laramie, WY, 82071-3354, USA;
  Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, Lincoln University, PO Box 84, Canterbury, 8150, New Zealand;
  New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited, PO Box 29237 Fendalton, Christchurch, New Zealand.

A microcosm experiment was conducted to understand the impacts of mixing radiate pine (Pinus
radiate D. Don) needle litter and understory (gorse—Ulex europaeus L., broom—Cytisus scoparius
L., bracken—Pteridium aquilinum L., and lotus—Lotus pedunculatus L.) litter materials on
decomposition and nutrient release dynamics. Mixing of pine needle litter with understory litter
material had significant impacts on both the rate of decomposition and nutrient release patterns of pine
litter as well as that of the understory species. Incubation in microcosms over 10 months resulted in
significantly lower mass loss of radiate pine needle litter mixed with broom and lotus litters (35.8 ±
8.4 and 41.3 ± 0.8%, respectively) than pure pine needle litter (63.5 ± 2.3%). Mixing with pine needle
litter significantly increased the mass loss of broom (53.1 ± 6.1%) compared to that of pure broom
(30.2 ± 1.0%). Significant transfers of nutrients, especially of magnesium and potassium, were
observed in litter mixture treatments. Concentration of K in litter materials was found to be the most
limiting factor for the decomposing microorganisms in the present study. The findings of this study
suggest that management of understory litter composition via weed control could be used to
manipulate carbon turnover and nutrient release in the forest floor. Also, initial selection of understory
species will be important and could be managed.

Source: Biol Fertil Soils (2005) 41: 310–319

The effect of ryegrass variety on trace metal uptake
Colin W Gray*, Ronald G McLaren
Agriculture and Life Sciences Division, Lincoln University, PO Box 84, Canterbury, New Zealand
*Present address: Agriculture and Environment Division, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JP,

Trace metal deficiencies in soils can have adverse effects on plant production and animal health.
Conversely, trace metals at elevated concentrations in soils can be phytotoxic. The exploitation of
intraspecies variation in plant trace metal accumulation may be one way to manage both trace metal
deficiency and phytotoxicity that can occur in some soils. An investigation was undertaken to
determine the variation in Co, Cd, Ni, Cu, Zn, Mn, and Fe uptake in different ryegrass varieties.
Eleven different ryegrass varieties were grown in a glasshouse experiment on two soils that contained
elevated or background metal concentrations. We found that there was up to a 2.5-fold range in trace
metal concentrations between ryegrass varieties grown on the contaminated soil, with the short
rotation/annual ryegrass varieties, i.e., ‘Flanker’, ‘Tabu’, and ‘Archie’, generally accumulating
significantly smaller amounts of Cd, Zn, Ni, Mn, and Co than the other varieties tested. Metal uptake
in the uncontaminated soil indicated much smaller differences between varieties. Dilution effects
could in part explain the differences in metal concentrations between varieties for the contaminated
soil, however there were no relationships between yields and trace metal concentrations for
uncontaminated soil. It appears that there may be potential for selecting ryegrass varieties for the
management of trace metal uptake in pasture soils, however further evaluation of results in field trials
is required.

Source: New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research (2005) 48: 285–292
Leaching of macronutrients and metals from undisturbed soils treated
with metal-spiked sewage sludge. 3. Distribution of residual metals
R G McLarenA, L M ClucasA, and M D TaylorB
 Centre for Soil and Environmental Quality, Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, PO Box 84, Lincoln
University, Canterbury, New Zealand; BLandcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton, New Zealand

Sewage sludge is increasingly been applied to land in New Zealand in an attempt to recycle the
valuable plant nutrients such material contains. However, there are concerns regarding the
environmental fate of heavy metals contained in the sludge. This study examines the soil profile
distributions of metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn) in large undisturbed soil lysimeters treated with metal-
spiked sewage sludge, following 3 years of drainage leachate monitoring. For 3 forest soils that had all
received surface applications of sludge, analytical results demonstrated considerable transport of
metals from the sludge into the underlying litter and mineral soil layers. Determination of individual
metal/Cr ratios revealed considerable differential mobility between metals, with Cd, Ni, and Zn being
most mobile, and Cu and Pb being only slightly more mobile than Cr. Total metal analysis was
relatively insensitive in detecting metal movement down the soil profile compared with determination
of extractable metals (EDTA of Ca(NO3)2 extraction). Maximum depths of metal penetration varied
between metals, but were similar for all 3 forest soils, averaging 0.15, 0.20, 0.25, 0.35, and 0.45 m for
Pb, Cu, Cd, Ni, and Zn, respectively. In contrast to the forest soils, when sludge was incorporated into
the top 0.10 m of 2 pasture soils, little movement of metals could be detected below the layer of
incorporation. However, even in these soils, the determination of metal/Cr ratios indicated that some
differential movement of metals had taken place. For the forest soils, the results indicate considerable
potential for the long-term and sustained leaching of metals by normal convective and diffusive
transport processes. This would appear to be of less concern where sludge has been incorporated into
the pasture soils. These results clearly have implications for selection of the most appropriate soils and
conditions for sludge application to the land.

Source: Australian Journal of Soil Research (2005) 43: 159–170


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