Tuesday, 29 January 2013

BSSS Council induction meeting......

Originally uploaded by Soil & Water Science
Presidents Blog number 2.....

Yesterday I joined Kathryn Alton and a bunch of colleagues from the British Society of Soil Science's new Council Committee for an induction session, at Cranfield University. As well as being incredibly helpful, it was a great team building exercise. I think that you will agree from the photos that it is going to be a fun couple of years......

The National DTC Conference

Originally uploaded by Soil & Water Science
Last week was an exciting gathering of the nation's catchment scientists in Central London to celebrate the progress of the National Defra Demonstration Test Catchment projects. It was particularly exciting because the level of national interest was much higher than we had dreamed, with literally standing room only and many folk left on 'standby' for places as it was very well subscribed - interest was high (some pictures from me here).

My job was to observe the big array of presentations of day one and to give a sum up address. I noted and suggested that the journey so far can be summed up in three phases as:

The teams of the Eden, the Wensum and the Hampshire Avon along with Defra and the wider family of projects and players, have all done a great job setting up the platforms and starting the new way of feeding the evidence base. This is tough stuff, it is not replicable pot or plot experiments, this is catchment science and it involves people, their land and their livelihoods. Setting up such a study in its own right is difficult going - and all involved should be proud of where they have got to.

Some things do not add up, they are not perfect and are uncomfortable. But that's ok, it is not a perfect world, instead there exits much complexity and hence uncertainty. Different catchments respond at different speeds and at different rates of hysteresis. There was perhaps an over emphasis (I feel) on delivery mitigation and not so much on source and mobilisation control - take note readers and think about this. Delivery modification is simply closing the stable door. We need to be stopping the inputs and the initial detachment and solubilisation of the pollutants.

It takes time to build trust and on the time scale of partnership building the ship of trust is just leaving the harbor and heading towards open waters (sorry for over stretching the ship analogy there!). We raised issues 'what farmers and, what science?' and it was pointed out that 98% of CSF farmers thought that their farms were contributing 'little if not at all' to diffuse pollution.  Clearly there is work to be done.  New ways of managing data and knowledge through the data archiving and the hub were suggested and a new tool kit proposed.

The next phase will need lots of patience, lots of careful eyes on the detail of the science and lots of KT.

Step by step.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Starting the Presidency of the British Society of Soil Science....

On 1 January I started my two year service as President of the British Society of Soil Science. As part of my new role, I will be starting a series of 'President's Blogs' with the society, the first of which is pasted below:

Presidents blog number 1 – Here we go…..

As the 1 January passed reality dawned: No longer could I hide behind the mighty Heliana any more, no longer was I president elect, it was my turn to carry the can. What better way to kick off the New Year and my new term than a two-day meeting with Vice Pres Heliana, Exec Officer Kathryn and Hon Treasurer Adam …. Taking advantage of the fact that Adam, Heliana and I live within a few miles of one another, we used Lancaster and the Lune Valley as our place to meet. On Wednesday I picked up Kathryn on the 1209 into Lancaster and we spent the first afternoon at my house in Docker, dided by Helaina’s shortbread and my tea. Day two we met at Lancaster University and were joined by Adam and Ed Tipping (who is helping on the Committee of the Annual Meeting coming up in September) (a few photos of our meeting can be viewed here). There was no formal agenda, but the two days were a terrific means for some strategic planning for the months ahead.

One of the key things that I want to highlight to all members is our planning for the bid to host the IUSS World Congress of Soil Science Meeting in Glasgow in 2022. As a society this is a great opportunity for us to welcome the world to our shores and put on a great soils jamboree. At the World Congress next year we will need to raise a competitive bid to the council and this is no easy task. Over the coming months I want to start a process of consultation and welcome BSSS members to a Glasgow 2022 Committee. We shall start with an open discussion at the Early Career Conference in York in March, followed by a similar around the AGM in September. If you feel you can help with planning the case, developing the unique selling product, thinking about the Glasgow science, the Glasgow legacy, then please do get I touch with me and Kathryn and we will gratefully welcome you to the fold. Onward…

Phil, Docker Garth, January 20th 2013