Dr Anne R. Wecking
Soil Scientist & Journalist
"This chilled breeze of freedom. The urge to experience incessancy and to grasp infinity - somewhere out there in between Earth and Sky - or eventually even at the interstice of both. Kneeling down, I enclosed the soil with my hands - a gentle embrace of mineral and organic matter, so vulnerable in its preciosity yet invisible to most. A magical masterpiece touched by my human hands that now effused a smell of moisture and mildew.
Breathing in and out, the smell approached my nostrils and it became all clear: Right there, somewhere in the vastness of the Mongolian taiga forest, I was holding a hand full of life. Lifting my eyelids, the ice blue of the sky above beamed back down upon me. Infinity. So close and still so far. The atmosphere: 78 % dinitrogen, 21 % dioxygen, and 1 % of noble gases in an interplay of electromagnetic waves - a phenomenon science could have explained. However, this was not of significance as the circle of life confessed itself in such a radiant way that it took my breath. In devotion, I stopped and starred. It was the very moment, in which I decided to devote my life to the inconspicuous matter of soil science."
Welcome to my website!
And welcome to joining me on this journey through science and life.
By heart, I am a physical geographer with an intrinsic interest in studying and understanding the relationship between humans and the environment. From oceans to the atmosphere, from soils and streams to the shape of the land - I have always seen myself as a generalist whose research philosophy follows a holistic, all-embracing approach closely aligned with the reality of the people and the land.
My academic expertise is in soils. The world beneath our feet fascinates me and so I have learned to understand how soil forms and evolves with time - from centuries to thousands of years. Initially, I focused on the natural functioning of soils (mostly in Europe and Mongolia). More recently, I have become particularly concerned with disentangling the effect of land use on soil health.
Huge impact on this little, but important, shift had my PhD - i.e. when I measured greenhouse gas emissions from intensively grazed mineral and organic soils in the Waikato, New Zealand. To realise how much work there is yet to be done to sufficiently quantify the impact of intense land uses on soil was eye-opening. My vision for the future is to help prevent further land degradation and contribute to a much better understanding and awareness of one of the planet's most precious treasures: SOIL.
March 2023 - Metamorphosis
In early 2023, I decided to move back to my country of origin. Six years, 18,000 km, and a global pandemic later - I have been away from Europa for a long time! I am currently in transition and not able to foresee the future. But I am certain that there will be exciting projects popping up soon-ish. Stories to be shared from my experiences in Aotearoa (and beyond).
Perhaps even life itself is going to get a new twist?
June 2021 - Found a job, signed a contract
From traveling back to a more settled life: I am now employed by the Tasman District Council in Richmond, New Zealand. Working for local government will mean a shift from pure academia to real-life application - which I am excited about. Tasks ahead are: to advise the council in all environmental matters, provide technical expertise in the field, get engaged with land owners, conduct an expansive soil mapping campaign, and tackle the nitrate leaching problems in the Waimea basin.
January 2021 - Doctor of all natural things
Passing through the machinery of a PhD is a step-wise process. First years of research, then submission of the work, waiting for being assessed, finding a date for the oral examination, oral exam, revisions, and finally graduation. The greatest moment for me was the 21st January - the oral exam. My family attended via Zoom and the relief that I felt afterward was exhilarating. Still, the experience feels quite unreal. Doctor rerum naturalium - doctor of all natural things, doctor of science. Crazy!