Principal Soil Scientist at South African Sugar Association

  • Permanent Senior position

  • Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

  • Market Related salary

  • Job 2112938 | Ref 1304

  • Posted 14 Jun 2017 by South African Sugar Association

About the Position

The South African sugar industry recognises that soil and crop health are central to industry sustainability, not only in the responsible optimisation of crop productivity but also in promoting crop resilience to stress and resistance to pests and diseases. These needs are particularly acute in SA industry, which is characterised by unusually high soil variability, high representation of poor soil types, particularly in the coastal regions, and the consequences of sugarcane mono-cropping, which, in many instances, has occurred over several decades.

Within this context, the industry is seeking a leading expert in soil scienceresearch to:

  • lead a team of soil scientists conducting research and development aimed at optimising soil health and crop nutrition to maximise crop production and promote industry sustainability; and
  • mentor early- to mid-career research staff to support their progress in developing independent science careers in soil science and crop nutrition.

The SA Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI), which is operated by the sugar industry as a Division of the SA Sugar Association, is ideally suited to a soil scientist who aspires to making a positive contribution to this prominent sector of the SA agriculture landscape while establishing a strong science career founded on research excellence. Publication of research findings in reputable science journals, supervision of post-graduate students, establishment of local and international research collaborations and the attainment of NRF rating are actively encouraged.

As a senior member of the SASRI soil science and crop nutrition research team, the incumbent will lead the development, in consultation with industry stakeholders, of knowledge resources, technologies and services aimed at:

  • promoting the restoration of soil health to areas of the industry that have been subject to decades of intensive sugarcane cultivation;

  • refining recommendations to optimise sugarcane nutrition;

  • ensuring that the industry remains at the cutting-edge of soil health and crop nutrition best practice; and

  • facilitating the integration of technological advances into the operational environment of the commercial soil and plant analytical service operated by the institute for growers of sugarcane and other crops, both within and outside the borders of SA.

The ideal candidate should have:

  • a PhD in soil science;

  • a publication record indicative of an individual with extensive experience in modern soil science research;

  • a demonstrated history of successful mentorship of early- to mid-career colleagues, potentially gained through a leadership or management role;

  • experience in research collaboration with commodity crop industries in the development and implementation of soil and crop health technologies; and

  • extensive experience in the successful supervision of post-graduate students at MSc and PhD level.

In keeping with the Industry's desire to appoint a recognised expert to this important role, an appropriate NRF rating will be considered an added advantage. In addition, due to the SA Sugar Industry's commitment to the sustainability of small-scale and land reform sugarcane grower communities, experience of working with these grower sectors in other commodity crop industries will be viewed as a further advantage.

Application process:

Please apply on-line via the job portal

Closing date for applications: 3rd July 2017

SASA reserves the right to consider applications received after this date but will not be obliged to do so.

The ideal candidate will have the following competencies:


  • evidence of a collaborative approach to research
  • past supervision of post graduate students
  • extensive experience in conducting soil science research (lab and field based)
  • proven track record of publication
  • transferring technology to non-scientific audiences
  • managing projects and related budgets


  • deep commitment to soil health and crop nutrition best practice
  • extensive knowledge of soil/crop interactions and research

About The Employer

The South African Sugar Association (SASA) provides a diverse range of highly specialised services to the South African sugar industry and our activities are funded in the main by the sugarcane growers and sugar milling companies. Our mission is to provide specialist services that enhance the profitability, global competitiveness and sustainability of the South African sugar industry.

Employer & Job Benefits

  • Large company benefits
  • excellent equipment and facilities and significant trans-disciplinary research support make this a very appealing research position.

Apply online
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