Research in Soil Biology is a major activity within the School of Agriculture and Environment at The University of Western Australia. Our emphasis is on understanding the activities of a wide range of soil organisms in the context of their contribution to important soil processes. We are interested in soil organisms and their roles in natural ecosystems as well as in agriculture/horticulture and disturbed environments such as minesites.
AGRI5504 Organic Agriculture (Masters level unit)
Senior Honorary Research Fellow
Previous positions include:
Deputy Director, UWA Institute of Agriculture (2014)
Vice Dean, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
Head, School of Earth and Environment
Winthrop Professor, School of Earth and Environment
Land management in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, minesite restoration; soil health; soil fertility; organic agriculture; use of soil amendments
Soil health related to agriculture, horticulture and viticulture, soil biology, indicators of soil quality, soil fertility, plant-microbe symbioses (especially arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi), minesite rehabilitation and soil management (including organic agricultural practices). Agricultural research includes dryland cropping, horticulture, dairy, intensive cattle feedlots, perennial and annual pastures for sheep, dairy and cattle, restoration of farmland, use of soil amendments (compost, manures and digestate (from AD waste recycling).
This research examines the potential role of biochar in the sustainability of dry-land farming, especially in relation to the provision of a habitat for beneficial microorganisms. It includes interactions between biochar, organic matter and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in agricultural soils.
Carbon sequestration in soil
This research includes the effect of land management practices on soil biological processes that influence soil carbon sequestration as well as loss of soil carbon through microbial activity. Emphasis is on identifying best management options for different soil types and environments and includes the efficacy of soil amendments such as clay, biosolids, digestates from AD systems, composts and biostimulants. Potential impacts of climate change are considered.
Soil restoration – arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
We are investigating interactions between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in plants and soil in sustainable dry-land agriculture and mine sites under rehabilitation. The impact of land management on the contributions of these symbiotic fungi is a focus.
Clarification of the role of soil biology in sustainable farming practice and restoration of disturbed natural environments is a long-term goal of our research.
Further information for land managers and others in the community can be found at the following website www.soilhealth.com