Partner Profile: NSW Department of Primary Industries

| Posted Oct 01,2020

NSW DPI staff from the Wagga Wagga office

As a major partner in the Soil CRC, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) value the collaborations that occur between universities, grower groups and industry. It offers a fantastic opportunity for their soil researchers to network with other researchers from universities and end users from grower groups and industry, to share knowledge and expertise. It results in better research.

NSW DPI supports the development of profitable primary industries and contributes to a better environment through the sustainable use of natural resources. It is part of the recently formed Department of Regional NSW.

NSW DPI is the largest rural R&D provider in Australia and has in excess of 400 R&D staff working on production and sustainability related issues across plant and livestock based sectors. It has wide ranging partnerships with rural R&D corporations, farming systems groups, agribusiness, other government agencies and interstate and international collaborators.

NSW DPI contribute a Board member and a Program Leader to the Soil CRC. Deputy Director General Agriculture, Kate Lorimer-Ward has been a Board Director since January 2018. Dr Lukas Van Zwieten is the Leader of Program 4 – Integrated and precision soil management solutions and a Senior Research Scientist at NSW DPI. He sees the collaborations and networking as being the real strength of the Soil CRC.

“We’ve seen some great negotiations between grower groups and researchers that have resulted in the development of some really strong projects. The breadth of contacts we have with grower groups is fantastic; I am able to work with grower groups with whom I would never normally work. It’s fascinating to work with groups all over the country and work on soil issues in Western Australia and South Australia,” Lukas says.

The Soil CRC team from NSW DPI work in the Soil and Water Unit. The Soil and Water Unit seeks to develop and promote technologies and management systems that improve productivity while protecting soil as a resource. They provide policy and planning advice to a range of industries and government agencies. Staff of the Soil and Water Unit are based at eleven regional locations across NSW. They conduct research and development and in collaboration with partners deliver development programs in the fields of soil, agricultural productivity, food security, climate, and water.

All the staff are global leaders in their fields and partner with NSW DPI experts across agronomy, horticulture, livestock science and related disciplines as well as with numerous universities, CSIRO, other state agencies, farming systems groups, industry and R&D organisations.

The Soil and Water Unit has two broad areas of Soil related R&D focus:

  • Soil Productivity R&D, which aims to improve the utilisation efficiency of resources while delivering on-farm benefits and economic returns to the economy,
  • Soil Sustainability R&D, which aims to develop management practices to ensure soil as a resource is not degraded by contaminants or unsustainable management practices.

NSW DPI research and development is industry focused and collaborative, spanning the fundamental to the applied. They utilise a network of research stations and other unique long-term field and trial sites across a range of agroecosystems and agroclimatic zones.

The R&D is also supported by accredited analytical research laboratories and modern machinery and research instrumentation.

The key themes of R&D are:

  • Soil carbon sequestration and GHG emissions
  • Nutrient management and biological N fixation
  • Soil physical and chemical constraints
  • Soil quality and ecosystem services
  • Contaminants in soil and agriculture

Projects NSW DPI are working on:

Improved management of herbicide residues in soilled by Dr Michael Rose, NSW Department of Primary Industries with collaboration from Murdoch University, Southern Cross University, WANTFA, Hart Field Site Group and Birchip Cropping Group.

New products for subsoil constraints – led by Dr Ehsan Tavakkoli, NSW Department of Primary Industries with collaborations from University of Southern Queensland and the University of Newcastle.

Plant based solutions to improve soil performance led by Professor Terry Rose, Southern Cross University with collaborations with Central West Farming Systems, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Murdoch University, Charles Sturt University, Burdekin Productivity Services, Herbert Cane Productivity Services, FarmLink, Hart Field Site Group, Riverine Plains and Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association.

Surveying farm practicesled by Dr Hanabeth Luke, Southern Cross University, with collaborations from Charles Sturt University, North Central CMA, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Primary Industries and Regions SA, Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association.

What drives farmer decisionsled by Dr Hanabeth Luke, Southern Cross University, with collaborations from Charles Sturt University, Soils for Life, Burdekin Productivity Services and Southern Farming Systems, NSW Department of Primary Industries.

New amendments for sandy soils – led by Professor Richard Bell, Murdoch University with collaborations from Federation University, PIRSA, West Midlands Group, NSW Department of Primary Industries and AORA.

Improving decision support systems – led by Dr Keith Pembleton, University of Southern Queensland with collaborations from University of Tasmania, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Burdekin Productivity Services, Birchip Cropping Group, West Midlands Group and Riverine Plains Inc.

Addressing complex soil constraints – led by Dr Jason Condon, Charles Sturt University, with collaborations from Birchip Cropping Group, Agriculture Victoria, Facey Group, FarmLink, Hart Field Site Group, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Riverine Plains Inc., Central West Farming Systems.

Evaluating soil functional resilience – led by Dr Mehran Rezaei Rashti, Griffith University, with collaborations from Facey Group, Herbert Cane Productivity Services and NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Team of Researchers

Researcher  Field of expertise  
Jason CondonSoil acidity, fertilisers, nutrient cycling
Simon ClarendonPhosphorus nutrition and management in agriculture
Yunying Fang    Soil biogeochemistry, soil carbon and nutrient cycling
John FriendFarming systems, soil water
Shane Hildebrand  Crop agronomy, field trial specialist
Abigail JenkinsCommunications, soil science
Promil MehraLaboratory technical officer
Scott PettySoil enzyme analysis, microbial biomass C analysis, set-up and maintenance of field trials, soil processing and method development
Mick RoseEnvironmental chemistry and soil science, pesticide science, LC/MSMS, GC/MS, soil biological processes
Josh RustMethod development for soil chemical and biological analyses, TOC/TON analysis, UAV and multispectral imaging and analyses, radiolabel license
Bhupinderpal SinghSoil chemistry, ecology, and isotope biogeochemistry
Ehsan Tavakkoli  Soil chemistry, nano-biogeochemistry, crop nutrition and subsoil constraints
Lukas Van ZwietenEnvironmental chemistry and soil science, carbon and nitrogen cycling, stable isotopes, ecotoxicology and remediation
Tony VancovSoil microbiology
Mark WhatmuffSoil contaminants, chemistry and organic amendments
Maxine WeiEnvironmental chemistry