Welcome to Vandergraaff Soils Horizons

If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life (Confucius 551-479 BC)

Dr Robert van de Graaff is an agricultural and soil scientist with over 40 years varied experience of soil survey, land degradation, assessment of soil quality for plant growth, modification of the soil to suit plant needs, environmental investigations, assessment of land for irrigation, wastewater disposal, geochemical behaviour of heavy metals and trace elements in soils, and of associated environmental risks. He has also been involved in teaching and transfer of skills in both developed and developing countries.


He is a member of the Australian Soil Science Society Inc. and accredited by that organisation at the highest professional level, CPSS-3. In 1990 he was awarded an Honorary Membership for Life. Robert is also a member of the Australian Water Association.

Robert was educated at Wageningen Agricultural University in The Netherlands and after working for 4 years with CSIRO in Canberra, continued his studies for a PhD in soil science at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. The American PhD program spends about half the time on research and the thesis and the other half on advanced course work in related departments and fields, thus broadening the end product immensely. A number of his professors had extensive international consulting experience which they brought to the teaching and case work exercises. This education has been of major benefit in the scope of tasks Robert can handle.

Robert practised soil and land resource surveys extensively while being employed by CSIRO (Hunter valley, NSW, and Katherine River – Tipperary Area, NT), and detailed soil mapping at Cornell University (as a summer job with the USDA - Soil Conservation Service in Seneca and Madison Counties, New York) and land system mapping as a senior research officer of the Victorian Soil Conservation Authority (Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Gippsland Lakes catchments). These skills were also put to use in Australian and overseas consultancy projects, e.g. AusAID projects in West Timor, in Pakistan, Botswana, China and Malaysia.


What else is important to Robert?

Making people interested and enthusiastic about soils! Promoting the soil as the fundament of all life on earth and as a rewarding field for research.