Caleb Niemeyer


Department: Plant Agriculture

College: Ontario Agricultural College

Conference Attended: 22nd World Congress of Soil Science

Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Value: $3,350

Research Presentation: 

I am researching the application of digital soil mapping (DSM) to precision agriculture. DSM is a new method of soil survey that is less expensive and more accurate while outputting data in georeferenced data formats instead of the paper maps produced by conventional soil mapping. Farmers are well aware that yields and responses to crop inputs are highly variable and influenced by soil type. Given the advent of DSM and machinery capable of automating variable crop input application across a field, many growers are adopting soils-based crop management strategies based on intuition. However, there is little reliable and replicable information on soil type by crop input interactions—for example, fungicide application in maize. Farmers would like to apply fungicide only when economically responsive to save on pesticide costs. Adopting soils-based crop management strategies would support the landscape scale mission of Food From Thought by sustainably intensifying food production. Applying fungicide based on digital soil information increases grower profitability, reduces pesticide damage to off-target organisms, improves ecosystem health, and reduces the risk of pesticide resistance.

Objectives for Attending: 

Since the beginning of my graduate studies, I have realized that the best research comes not from one individual working in isolation but rather from a group of people who know about a particular area who can collaborate to inform research activities. This conference will allow me to receive feedback on my research from a wide variety of experts in my field. I look forward to sharing my findings with others and receiving feedback which I can then use to improve my work. I think it will also be valuable to hear what other graduate students and scientists are working on and their approaches to solving their problems since my problems may be similar and solved with their methods.

At this conference, I hope to continue building a network of people in soil science. Having a strong professional network is vital since it allows for the rapid flow of information and ideas amongst people in the network. A robust professional network is also important for seeking employment after finishing my degree. My project relies heavily on collaboration with several research groups since collecting as much data as possible is critical to its success. This conference may help to expand my partnerships.

Practicing public speaking in this context will help improve my communication, which I believe is essential in science. I think that attending this conference and presenting will help raise the profile
of Food From Thought research beyond Guelph’s borders and allow for an essential exchange of ideas amongst soil scientists from different backgrounds, hopefully leading to better research that can more fully
address the objectives of Food From Thought while furthering my growth as a soil scientist.