Dr Anne R. Wecking
Soil Scientist & Journalist
"This chilled breeze of freedom, it had never left my heart completely. The urge to experience incessancy and to grasp infinity - somewhere out there in between earth and sky or at the interstice of both. Kneeling down, I enclosed the soil below with my hands - a gentle embrace of organic matter, so vulnerable in its preciosity but invisible for most. A magical masterpiece touched by human hands that now effused a smell of the moist and mildewed.
Breathing in and out, as the smell approached my nostrils 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 yet still so far. The atmosphere, a mixture of gas molecules, became a source of philosophical thoughts caught in the moment: 78 % dinitrogen, 21 % dioxygen, and 1 % of noble gases in an interplay of electromagnetic waves. A phenomenon science could have explained. However, that 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 explore, dream, and discover."
Welcome to my website!
And welcome to joining me on this journey of epiphany through science and life.
By heart, I am 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 whom's research philosophy follows a holistic, all-embracing approach closely aligned to the reality of the people and the land.
My academic expertise is in soils. The world underneath our feet fascinates me and so I have learnt to understand how soil forms and evolves with time, from centuries to thousands of years. Initially, I focused on examining the functioning of natural soils (mostly in Europe and Mongolia) but more recently I have become particularly concerned with disentangling the effect of land use on soil functioning and soil health.
A huge impact on this little but important shift of focus had my PhD - i.e. the time when I was measuring 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 agriculture and other intense land uses on soil was eye opening. My vision for the future is to help preventing any further land degradation and contribute to the understanding and awareness of one of the planet's most precious resources: SOIL.
June 2021 - Found a job, signed a contract
From travelling 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 and tackle the nitrate leaching problems in the Waimea basin.
February to May 2021 - Explorer time
I am taking a break! Goodbye settled life, hello wilderness, mountains and exploring. The past three and a half years have kept me busy and prevented me from exploring Te Waipounamu, the New Zealand South Island. With one chapter of my career life closed, I am now taking my chances and escape into the wild. Hiking and re-kindling my connection with reality, the land and the people.
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 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 afterwards was exhilarating. Still the experience feels quite unreal. Doctor rerum naturalium - doctor of all natural things, doctor of science. Crazy!