PhD Student Profile

Prasanthi Sooriyakumar

University of Western Australia

Rainfall and leaching, acidic parent material, organic matter decay, harvest of high yielding crops and nitrification of ammonium are the main causes of soil acidification. My research aims to synthesis biochar-based soil amendments to improve soil pH and thereby improve soil health and productivity.

PhD Title: “Liming values of biochar in acidic sandy soils.”

PhD start date: October 2021

Supervisors: Professor Nanthi Bolan, University of Western Australia, Associate Professor Matthias Leopold, University of Western Australia, Dr. Bede Mickan, University of Western Australia, Kadambot H.M. Siddique, University of Western Australia.

What interested you about this research?
I look forward to expanding my knowledge and contributing to participatory research, development, and extension practices in the agricultural industry in Australia.

What do you love about soil?
From the food we consume and the clothes we wear, to the homes we shelter in and the fuel in our vehicles, they all originate from soils. We are blessed with such abundant natural resources that have aided a great deal in our development as a species. Soil health is our wealth.

What do you love about your PhD?
As a soil science major, I am looking forward to applying the knowledge and skills I have acquired in soil science and sustainable agriculture practices during my Bachelor of Science. The opportunity to further expand my knowledge in soil science is of great importance to me.

How will your PhD help to make a difference for farmers?
I hope that, through participatory research, development, and extension practices with the local agriculture industry stakeholders my PhD will tackle the causes and effects of acidic soils in Australia. I will endeavour to integrate my knowledge and experience in agricultural science and Natural Resource Management to find holistic scientific evidence-based solutions to soil acidification and make positive contributions to local livelihoods and environmental health.

What do you want to do when you finish your PhD?
Upon completing my HDR, I will be pursuing research fellowships at universities and research institutes across the globe with research focusing on environmental remediation, soil science and agricultural science (i.e. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Berkley Food Institute and FAO Fellows Programme), thereby contributing to sustainable development and agricultural practices.