PhD Student Profile

Rahat Shabir

Griffith University

Rhizobium inoculation has contributed significantly to the supply of nitrogen in most farming systems, but the availability of peat – the most widely used carrier for Rhizobium – is becoming increasingly scarce in many regions. Moreover, the existing inoculation techniques often result in low survival rates of rhizobia on the seed and in the soil due to desiccation and heat and this limits the nitrogen-fixing efficacy of the rhizobial inoculants.

This study will employ a suite of advanced analytical approaches to evaluate the suitability of locally available, low cost, biochar produced from different feedstock and pyrolysis conditions, and emerging biopolymers as alternative carriers for effectively delivering rhizobia. It will also capture and retain moisture to improve prolonged survival of rhizobial inoculants. This project will provide new knowledge on cost-effective alternative carriers for the formulation of rhizobial inoculants to improve legume nitrogen-fixation and soil productivity in Australian farming systems.

PhD Title: Developing effective biochar and biopolymer material as an alternative microbial carrier.”

PhD start date: October 2019

Supervisors: Prof Chengrong Chen, Griffith University, Dr Yantao Li, Griffith University.

What interested you about this research?
Chemical fertilisers have serious ecological issues. This project will result in the development of unique environmentally friendly biofertiliser products that will not only reduce the usage of chemical fertilisers but also improve soil health and rehabilitation.

What do you love about soil?
Soil is a life, without soil we would be homeless, hungry, naked, and breathless because most of the things we eat, wear, and feel all comes from soil. Much of the building materials and clothing comes come from the things grown in soil. The oxygen we get from the soil comes from plants grown in soil. Moreover, soil also helps to filter the water we drink and use.

What do you love about your PhD?
There is much more to describe my love about my PhD. I love to do experiments in the lab, I love to create and develop some novel formulations that no one has done before. I love to sit in front of my laptop to write and draw conclusions based on my experimental data. I love to create new hypothesis and deductions based on my previous results. I love the productive talks with my supervisors and lab mates. Finally, free food at seminars, conferences, and other gatherings is one of my favourite things.

How will your PhD help to make a difference for farmers?
The alternative novel inoculants will help farmers to increase the production and yield of the crops by increasing rate of biological nitrogen fixation in the soil. These alternative novel inoculants will be made on cheap, ecofriendly, and locally available alternative carrier material that should be cost effective for the farmers.

What do you want to do when you finish your PhD?
I would like to enhance my future career as a researcher, solving the issues faced by farmers and the inoculant industry in moving from conventional systems towards advanced manufactured inoculants and their practical applications at industrial level for the welfare of farmers.

Visit my ResearchGate profile