Australia has the largest area and diversity of cracking clay soils (Vertosols) in the world. These soils are dynamic, with vertical and horizontal movement of soil (shrink-swell) down the soil profile, driven by a high clay content (> 35%), as a result

Assignment Task


Australia has the largest area and diversity of cracking clay soils (Vertosols) in the world. These soils are dynamic, with vertical and horizontal movement of soil (shrink-swell) down the soil profile, driven by a high clay content (> 35%), as a result of drying and rewetting conditions. While these soils are considered relatively fertile by Australian standards, Vertosols have specific agricultural management requirements and challenges. The purpose of this assignment is to introduce you to some of the challenges associated with soil fertility in managed Vertosols. Through researching a chosen aspect of Vertosol fertility, you will further develop your critical analysis and evaluation skills, by reviewing current literature to provide an insight into how complex problems are currently approached.

This topic has TWO assessment tasks:

Written assignment 4 – Perspective article on a Vertosol fertility related topic of your choosingOnline assignment 4 – Participation in an online discussion panel


Perspective articles are commonly used to provide a forum for authors to discuss research from a personal viewpoint – everyone loves a good argument! Although based on the author’s opinion, these perspectives are based on strong evidence and sound logic, with the overall purpose of stimulating discussion on the topic highlighted. As scientists, we need to be able to effectively communicate with people across a diverse range of backgrounds (farmers, agronomists, industry partners, government), to ensure sustainability targets are met – sometimes this involves approaching problems from a different point of view.

Before starting your assignment, it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the following resources within Topic 4 on the SOIL431/531 Moodle page (under the ‘Resources’ heading):


Watch the video where Associate Professor Christopher Guppy introduces some of the ‘hot topics’ associated with VertosolChoose ONE of the introduced topics AND choose a perspective from your field of interest* AND post your selections (topic and perspective) in the Global Nutrient Balances topic discussion A topic from the same perspective cannot be covered more than four times, so get in quick!

If you are currently working within a role (i.e. agronomist) or not particularly interested in soil fertility (i.e. your interested in environmental soil science), you may choose to write your article from these perspectives. Keep in mind that the focus must ultimately link back to issues associated with Vertosol fertility.

Online Assignment Information

One of the attributes of a scientist is to question and explore everything, making judgments based on evidence and sound logic. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of being a researcher, is having to peer review another person’s work, or respond to questions other researchers may have about our own work. Most of the time, there is no formal training to prepare us for these situations. This discussion component will assist you in further developing your critical thinking and responding to questions about your research.


1. Indicate your preference for the discussion panel format by 5pm Wednesday 18 th January 2023: Option 1: Scheduled, live discussion session via Zoom (discussion done in 1 hour on a specific day) Option 2: Discussion forum (you have 3 days to significantly contribute to the discussion)

2. You will be divided into 4-5 groups (to be determined after topics for Part A have been chosen and based on discussion panel preferences).

3. Your group will be given copies of perspective articles written by each

4. Read each perspective article and develop a set (at least 3) of questions to ask each student on their article (these are not submitted for marking). Your questions should:

Focus on the topic/issue chosen and the perspective givenAim to clarify information (i.e. more detail or examples might be required) orAsk an opinion of the author relating to their topic/issue (i.e. ask for student opinions on relevant methods, published research, another perspective )

5. Participate in the discussion panel by:

Asking each panel member (i.e. student in your group) a question relating to their perspective Questions cannot be asked more than once to the same student.Responding to each question