Lincoln University Department of Soil & Physical Sciences

The Department of Soil Science at Lincoln University, NZ is responsible for the delivery of all undergraduate and postgraduate soil-related courses, and many physical science courses.

Bianca Das

SPECIALIST: Bachelor of Science (Hons) (Environmental Biogeosciences and Environmental Management)

LANDED: PhD student, University of Queensland

Bianca attended Paraparaumu College; while at secondary school her careers advisor told her about Lincoln University.

“No other university offered undergraduate courses in environmental physics and climate science,” says Bianca, of her choice to attend Lincoln.

“I had such passionate lecturers and tutors that inspired me to study harder and become interested in soil science… I was learning about something that had direct applications to everyday life and global issues.”

She said that her particular studies helped her to further her academic career, as she is now studying for her PhD, and is conducting experiments on soils, looking at their chemistry and physical properties.

Of her time at Lincoln, Bianca says the most memorable experiences are being a Residential Assistant at the Halls of Residence, participating in the many field trips, especially the trips for her soil science papers, and starting her own dance crew club.

“The clubs are well supported at Lincoln University, so if there isn’t a club that suits you already, just start one. There is also plenty of opportunity for you to enjoy the great outdoors, if you are into skiing, snowboarding, hiking, fishing, hunting, etc.”

Source: Careers in Science booklet , Lincoln University.

Brett Robinson – Reducing Leachates and Improving Profits with Native Plants

New Zealand native plants can be incorporated into farming systems to increase profits and reduce harmful contaminants entering waterways.
Brett Robinson is part of a team from the Departments of Ecology and Soil Science at Lincoln University looking to develop planting systems that not only improve the landscape but also maximise the innate potential of the root systems of some New Zealand species to intercept environmental contaminants before they enter waterways.
The potential of native plants to manage nutrients and contaminants has been given added emphasis as our waterways come under increasing pressure from the intensification of farm systems.
It’s been established that a well-managed riparian margin can filter out some contaminants from farm run-off. This is said to help improve water quality and in turn, stock are likely to benefit from improved animal health.
This research looks at native species to see if they can not only improve the aesthetic and conservation benefits of the farming landscape but also reduce contaminants and provide economic benefits for the farmer.
Phytomanagement describes the use of plants to improve environmental outcomes while at the same time producing something valuable.
Good examples of these among NZ native plants would be manuka and kanuka.  Both plants are Biological Nitrogen Inhibitors (BNI) which means they inhibit the transformation of the ammonium in the soil into nitrate, which can leach into groundwater. Both also have value as economic crops – manuka for honey and oil and kanuka for firewood and oils.
Other examples of potentially profitable species include native species such as the broadleaf and akeake that can be used as a fodder supplement to provide high concentrations of essential micronutrients that are often lacking in New Zealand farms. As the species mature, they also provide windbreaks and shade for stock.
Critical to the success of such plantings is an understanding of the belowground processes that occur in the soils beneath the native trees.
The research team from Lincoln are using advanced techniques to measure the movement of nutrients and contaminants under native ecosystems to develop optimal planting strategies for a variety of New Zealand farming landscapes.
Preliminary research indicates that planting native species on agricultural land definitely offers some advantages in terms of nutrient and trace element management.