Five minutes with Dr Ed Jones

Hello budding soil scientists!

It’s been a while, but we are back with an exciting interview with Dr Ed Jones.

When you send your soil samples in at the end of the TeaComposition Project, Ed with the help of his students will profile your soil for several properties including pH, organic carbon and soil slaking.

Ed Jones is our Digital Soil Mapper and Soil Scientist. He works at the University of Sydney and investigates soil properties for the remediation of soil and future applications in agriculture.


We sat down with him for a few minutes to find out why and how he became an amazing soil scientist.


Why did you decide to study soil science?

I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a soil scientist. I studied Agricultural Science at the University of Sydney, the course opened my eyes to soil variability, its effect on agriculture and how this can be managed in new and inventive ways to improve productivity.

What do you find most exciting about soil?

Soil is everywhere but there is so much we still don’t understand about it.

What does a typical day for you look like?

My work encompasses all aspects of research: coming up with new ideas or investigating new areas of research; conducting fieldwork, which is a great excuse to get some fresh air in country NSW; lab work – a necessary evil; modelling (the computer type); and writing up my research as academic papers. I supervise students and also get mentored by the professors. No day is typical.

What is one thing most people don’t know about soil?

It can take hundreds of years to grow 1 cm of soil, but it can be lost in instant if it is not protected.

Tell us about your research?

My research is funded by Australian grain growers. Essentially I am scanning thousands of NSW soils with lasers and building models so that we predict important soil properties instantly. We can then see how the soil varies within a paddock and how this will affect crop growth. One day soon this will all be possible with your mobile phone.

What do you like to do when you’re not researching?

As I spend a lot of time indoors for my research I like to spend my spare time outdoors, especially surfing, running and cycling. I also enjoy studying new languages, as studying agriculture gives you many opportunities to work internationally .

What can we all do to improve soil quality?

If I were to recommend one thing only it would be increase your organic matter. This can be achieved by mulching or even better by recycling food scraps by composting or having a worm farm and applying these to your soil. Increasing organic matter in your soil will improve soil fertility, improve soil structure, increase the amount of water it can hold and make your soil more resilient to any future changes


Stay tuned for more posts to come!

-TeaComposition Project Team