News

Soil science funding to unlock agricultural productivity

Australian universities have been awarded more than $21 million over four years to tackle key research questions that will push forward agricultural productivity and underpin lower cost carbon sequestration.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud announced the successful innovative research projects to receive funding under the Soil Science Challenge.

“These projects will push the frontier on soil science questions relating to agriculture, climate change and soil health,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Project focus areas include improving soil carbon sequestration, improved fertiliser strategies, and high-resolution mapping to improve soil management across our vast landscape.”

“Farmers right across the country – from graziers and cattle producers in northern Australia to cropping farmers in southern Australia – will ultimately benefit.”

The successful funding recipients and projects are:

  • $4.34 million to the University of Western Australia (in collaboration with the University of Adelaide and University of Western Sydney) to provide an in-depth understanding of soil physical and chemical processes in response to biological inputs that complement chemical fertilisers to maximise productivity.
  • $3.12 million to the University of Adelaide (in collaboration with the South Australian Research and Development Institute) to research the diversity of Australian soils using DNA technology to measure, understand and reverse soil decline, providing a basis to improve soil biology in farming systems.
  • $2.96 million to the University of Sydney to better understand the diversity, function, and impact of Australian soils viruses and their links to soil health and productivity.
  • $2.17 million to the University of Melbourne (in collaboration with the University of Western Sydney and Murdoch University) to develop new standardised approaches and tools for farmers to manage soil fauna across different agricultural industries.
  • $1.95 million to the University of Melbourne (in collaboration with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Queensland Department of Environment and Science) to quantify and understand the causes and consequences of soil organic carbon decline in Australian cropping systems, to improve productivity and improve understanding of carbon sequestration.
  • $1.84 million to the University of Sydney (in collaboration with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) to develop an improved spatial understanding of how soils behave in the Australian landscape to enable better advice for farmers and primary producers on land management strategies.
  • $1.75 million to the University of Queensland (in collaboration with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) to develop new nitrogen fertiliser strategies for the more effective and efficient use of nitrogen to benefit Australia’s cropping producers.
  • $1.20 million to the University of New South Wales (in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries) to provide insight into the use of nano materials (including waste materials) in soils, as an innovative approach to assist in improving soil carbon sequestration.
  • $880,000 to the Queensland University of Technology to improve rangeland management in the Northern Australian pastoral zone, including developing strategies for improving carbon storage and productivity on those pastoral lands.
  • $850,000 to the University of Sydney to explore the interaction of various components in soils to better understand linkages and benefit to soil carbon sequestration.
  • $570,000 to the University of Queensland to better understand the application of phosphorous in soils to increase agricultural productivity.

All figures are inclusive of GST where applicable.

For more information, visit www.awe.gov.au/soils

Source: Australian Government