Update: 08.12.2017

In a handful of fertile soil, there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings that have ever existed.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

Webster Medal 2006

Alex McBratney

As Chairman of the Richard Webster medal committee I have great pleasure in announcing that the first person to receive the award is Professor Alex McBratney. The committee members were unanimous in their decision. Below I give the committtee’s reasoning for their selection of this nominee according to the guidelines that were established for this award.

1. Application of mathematics or statistics in soil science through published works
Alex has introduced methodologies that apply to soil genesis as well as land management. He has contributed to theoretical concepts of soil formation and their distribution and introduced soil inference systems to soil science. He has applied fuzzy sets to mapping soil classes and has recognized the benefit of using spectral analysis in relation to agronomic practices.
He has published a large body of influential work.

2. Innovative research in the field of pedometrics
This criterion assumes a familiarity and understanding of a broad spectrum of spatial and temporal statistical analyses used in conjunction with diverse concepts of processes and properties in soil science. Alex’s innovative achievements have been diverse and have shown strong creativity and great insight.
He has been involved in a large number of research projects that have had considerable impact.

3. Leadership qualities in pedometrics research
Alex plays a major role in promoting digital soil mapping internationally. He leads a group on soil resource assessment that includes basic soil science research and pedometrics, and both are applied to soil management. He leads a well established group in precision agriculture.

4. Contributions to various aspects of education in pedometrics
Alex introduced Pedometrics as a university subject in Australia, developed one of the first, perhaps even the first, university course named pedometrics, has supervised about a dozen PhD students in pedometrics, and developed and teaches a training course for the agricultural industry. He has done a good job of upgrading the syllabus based on pedometrics at the University of Sydney for professionals in the agricultural industry. He has worked on pedometrics for much of his professional life. Alex has held the most prestigious academic post in soil science in Australia. He has taught and inspired many undergraduates. Alex sets a high standard and teaches with a flair and wit that is rare.

5. Service to pedometrics
Alex McBratney proposed the word pedometrics which helped to formalize this new discipline in soil science. He is chairman of the Working Group on Digital Soil Mapping (International Union of Soil Sciences, 2004-2006), was chairman of the Working Group on Pedometrics (International Society of Soil Science, 1994-1998), nominated and received Best Paper Awards, (Pedometrics, International Union of Soil Science). He is on the editorial board of Precision Agriculture (1997- present).

Margaret A. Oliver

Alex McBratney

Alex McBratney


At the Gala dinner of the 18th World Congress of Soil Science

It is my great pleasure to give the citation for the first award of the Richard Webster Medal. I am doing this in the absence of the Chairman of the RW medal committee, Margaret Oliver. The medal is to honour the great contribution that Richard Webster has made to the application of statistical methods in soil science. He was one of the first people to see the importance and relevance of geostatistics to our subject. He, like the person to whom the award will be made, has inspired and encouraged a large number of soil scientists during his career to apply innovative techniques.
The committee’s decision was unanimous and it is very appropriate that the first person to whom this award is made is Professor Alex McBratney of the University of Sydney. Alex was one of Richard’s first PhD students and with Richard was amongst the first group of people to publish work on geostatistics in soil science.
Alex proposed the term Pedometrics which helped to formalize this discipline in soil science. He introduced Pedometrics as a university subject in Australia and has supervised about a dozen Ph.D. students in Pedometrics. Alex has worked on Pedometrics for much of his professional life and has held the most prestigious academic post in soil science in Australia. During his very active career he has taught and inspired many undergraduates.

Alex was chairman of the Working Group on Digital Soil Mapping (IUSS) and chairman of the Working Group on Pedometrics. The strength of the Working Group led to its becoming a Commission ath the 2004 mid-congress meeting in Philadelphia.
Alex’s strength extends beyond Pedometrics – he has a strong understanding of soil genesis and has contributed to theoretical concepts of soil formation and soil distribution. He has been involved in a large number of research projects that have had considerable impact in Pedometrics, soil science more generally and importantly in precision agriculture. As a result of these projects he has published a large body of influential work.

Don Nielsen

Alex McBratney