A handful of soil contains a billion organisms and more DNA than in a human body. The Earth's soil contains more carbon than the atmosphere and more water than all the lakes and rivers. As Da Vinci pointed out 500 years ago, we know more about the cosmos than the soil beneath our feet. While climate change, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss dominate news headlines, the topic of soil security rarely rates a mention.

The integral role played by soil in the health of ecosystems and human populations should be reason enough for all of us to understand this issue and its complexity. This event was a rare chance to see the world's experts in soil science and security sharing a stage and presenting their latest research along with real world implications.


  • Professor Alex McBratney - The University of Sydney
  • Professor Edward B Barbier - John S Bugas Professor of Economics, University of Wyoming, USA
  • Professor Johan Bouma - Emeritus Professor of Soil Science, Wageningen University, Netherland
  • Professor Cornelia Flora - Charles F. Curtis Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Sociology, Iowa State University, USA
  • Professor Rattan Lal - Distinguished Professor, School of Environment & Natural Resources, Ohio State University, USA

This Sydney Ideas event formed part of the 2012 Agriculture and Environment Research Symposium: Soil Security – jointly hosted by the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and the Dow Sustainability Program at the US Studies Centre.