UP soil science academic earns President’s Award at environmental congress

Posted on February 21, 2019

Dr Eyob Tesfamariam of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP) recently accepted the President’s Award from the Soil Science Society of South Africa for delivering the best oral presentation at the society’s Combined Congress recently held in Bloemfontein. Other participating organisations at the congress included the South African Society of Crop Production, the Southern African Weed Science Society and the South African Society for Horticultural Sciences.

“I am honoured to receive this award,” says Dr Tesfamariam, a senior lecturer in advanced environmental soil physics and irrigation management who has supervised and co-supervised several masters and doctoral students. “This award is the product of teamwork with my research colleagues and one of my students. The paper was co-authored by Prof Paxie Chirwa and Dr Amos Ngwira (Malawi Agricultural Station), and generated in cooperation with one of my MSc students, Pacsu Simwaka.”

Dr Tesfamariam, the author of several scientific papers in International Scientific Indexing (ISI)-rated journals, also thanked and congratulated the university for “providing a platform, in terms of environment, support and facilities, to conduct such research”.

As an agricultural systems modeller, his research focus is on water, nitrogen, carbon and contaminant dynamics in agricultural ecosystems, and the impact of climate change on crop and pasture production. He is currently investigating the environmental safety of biosolid use in agricultural lands in the circular economy, the impact of extreme weather events on maize production in South Africa, and the role of conservation agriculture on soil carbon sequestration and soil hydraulic properties.

Dr Tesfamariam believes in a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems. As such, he has participated in international, multidisciplinary and multi-country research projects, including European Union programmes. He has also completed several research projects funded by the Water Research Commission related to the use of biosolids in agricultural lands in order to update the existing South African Sludge Guideline. This work led to the development of a user-friendly database computer model, the Sludge Application Rate Advisor. He is currently the principal investigator of two research projects funded by the Water Research Commission and another funded by the National Research Foundation.

Other projects that Dr Tesfamariam is involved in include an African Union-funded multi-country research project entitled ‘Ecological intensification pathways for the future of crop-livestock integration in African agriculture’, for which he is co-investigator, and a programme entitled ‘Environmental safety of bio-waste in circular economy’, on which he is lead researcher. This project is being jointly implemented by Częstochowa University in Poland and UP’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences under the International Academic Partnership Programme announced by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange.

- Author Martie Meyer

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