Four programs deliver the outcomes of the Soil CRC

Program 1 – Investing in high performance soils

Associate Professor Catherine Allan – Charles Sturt University

Program 2 – Soil performance metrics

Associate Professor Richard Doyle – University of Tasmania

Program 3 – New products to increase fertility and production

Professor Nanthi Bolan – The University of Newcastle

Program 4 – Integrated and precision soil management solutions

Dr Lukas Van Zwieten – Department of Primary Industries, NSW

Underpinning each Soil CRC program is our education and training program.

Investing in high performance soils

Supporting farmers to maintain the long-term integrity and fertility of soils for future generations.

Farmers need a new way to get higher returns from their investment. So far, the returns from good long-term soil stewardship have been marginal at best.

Farmers need premium prices for their produce, and there may be opportunities to be paid for providing ecological services such as carbon sequestration.

To reward sustainable soil management, the market needs a supportive policy framework and sustained innovation of new more cost-effective technologies.

Program One – Investing in high performance soils will use participatory research methods, decision modelling, surveys, case studies and bio-economic modelling. The Soil CRC deliver tools and resource to support policy-makers, financiers, suppliers, and farmers to adopt and make use of these incentives.

Soil performance metrics

Developing tools linked to soil management products that allow farmers to monitor and assess the performance of their soils, and take corrective action where needed.

Farmers need to measure soil performance accurately and quickly in order to properly manage their soils. Without this, the costs are prohibitive, and the results are varied.

Program 2 – Soil performance metrics will define the metrics of a high performing soil and create the instruments for farmers to measure their soils on the farm. The Soil CRC will use advanced instrumentation, optimisation, sensor/data fusion and big data analytics methodologies to deliver practical tools ready for farmers to use.

New products to increase fertility and function

Developing a range of new products to better address challenges in soil management.

A limited range of products is currently available for farmers to manage complex soil constraints.

Program 3 – New products to increase fertility and function will use soil science, nanotechnology, environmental and analytical chemistry, to develop new fertilisers, soil amendments and delivery mechanisms for farmers to enhance the performance of their soils.

These products will introduce emerging technologies – such as polymers, nanotechnology and biotechnology – and use innovative ways to mine nutrients from waste streams.

Integrated and precision soil management solutions

Synthesising our current understanding of soil science and how it should be applied to the key soil types across Australia under irrigation and dryland agriculture.

Farmers and industry already know they need integrated and intelligent on-farm solutions for managing their soils.

Despite the complex and multiple constraints that most farmers face, much of the research over the last two decades was directed at only addressing single problems.

Program 4: Integrated and precision soil management solutions will produce a range of tools that bring together our current understanding of land management, artificial intelligence, soil science, optimisation and big data analytics, and apply it to the key soil types across Australia.

Program Leaders

    Associate Professor Catherine Allan

    Charles Sturt University

    Catherine Allan is Associate Professor in Environmental Sociology and Planning at the Albury campus of Charles Sturt University (CSU). She held a variety of agency rural land management extension roles in Victoria and South Australia before becoming an academic in 2001. Catherine’s research explores regional scale adaptive management of ‘natural resources’. As an experienced community facilitator, Catherine has particular interests in social learning and systems thinking to support sustainable relationships among human and biophysical elements. As well as research and supervision, Catherine has been the Presiding Officer of the CSU Human Research Ethics Committee since 2014, and was Associate Director of the Institute for Land Water and Society from 2014 to 2017.

    CSU Profile

    Associate Professor Richard Doyle

    University of Tasmania

    Associate Professor Richard Doyle’s career includes over 23 years’ experience in tertiary education with undergraduate teaching, PhD, Masters and Honours project supervision. He has worked in many areas of soil and earth sciences, natural resource assessment and management, industry innovation and more recently, global food security. Alongside this, he has also worked in forestry, construction and mining for both government and industry organisations. Associate Professor Doyle has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Geology and Physical Geography from Victoria University of Wellington and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Tasmania.

    Associate Professor Doyle has held multiple leadership roles including Head of the School of Agricultural Science and President of Soil Science Australia. He has operated as a project leader for major research projects relating to soil science. He has supervised over 18 research higher degrees (PhD/Masters) and more than 30 honours research projects. Associate Professor Doyle has won multiple teaching, academic and community service awards.

    UTAS Profile

    Professor Nanthi Bolan

    University of Newcastle

    Professor Nanthi Bolan completed his PhD in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition at the University of Western Australia, and is currently working as a Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Newcastle. His teaching and research interests include agronomic value of manures, fertilisers and soil amendments, soil acidification, nutrient and carbon cycling, greenhouse gas emission, soil remediation, and waste and wastewater management.

    Nanthi is a Fellow of the American Soil Science Society, the American Society of Agronomy and the New Zealand Soil Science Society, and was awarded the Communicator of the Year award by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural Sciences. He has supervised more than 50 postgraduate students, and was awarded the Massey University Research Medal for excellence in postgraduate students’ supervision. He has published more than 300 book chapters and journal papers, and was awarded the M.L. Leamy Award by NZ Soil Science Society in recognition of the most meritorious contribution to soil science.

    UON Profile

    Lukas Van Zwieten

    NSW Department of Primary Industries

    Dr Lukas Van Zwieten completed his PhD in Agricultural Chemistry and Soil Science at the University of Sydney in 1995. He is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and an Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University. His postgraduate supervision and research interests include carbon and nutrient cycling, soil function, ecotoxicology and impacts of agricultural chemicals, management practices and climate change on soil resilience. Lukas was awarded the 2016 NSW Premiers Award for Public Sector Science and Engineering, is a Churchill Fellow and a Member of Soil Science Australia. His research has been popularised through Landline (1999), ABC’s Catalyst program (2007), a CNN “special report” in 2008, ABC’s Landline (2009) and Discovery Channel’s “Ecopolis” mini-series in 2009/10. He has published more than 100 book chapters and journal papers and has several highly cited works.

    NSW Department of Primary Industries Profile

    Program Investment Process

    Through funding from the Australian Government’s CRC Program and from its participants, the Soil CRC has funds available to allocate to its Programs and Projects, as summarised in the 5 step Program Investment Process. Please note that project proposals can only be submitted by Soil CRC participant organisations. If you are an external stakeholder (third party) who wishes to collaborate with the Soil CRC, please contact us via email so we can talk through the options.

    Soil CRC Projects must contribute to meeting the pre-defined Commonwealth Activities (Outputs and Milestones). These are designed to lead to identified impacts on Australian agriculture. These Activities were identified by the Soil CRC participants who submitted a successful grant application to the Australian CRC Program in 2016. In accepting the grant, the Soil CRC is contractually bound to deliver these Activities, all of which have prescribed delivery dates.

    These Activities will be delivered through completion of projects. Projects are called for through Investment Rounds (Calls). For each Call, the Soil CRC will identify priorities that will directly contribute to meeting the activities that are due and when to release a Call. As per the Agreement with the Australian Commonwealth Government, the Soil CRC is unable to invest in any projects that do not contribute towards completion of the prescribed Activities. Soil CRC participants are expected to contribute (i.e. invest) in each project and the Soil CRC will provide a cash contribution (co-investment).