Researcher biography

My research career has covered a wide range of topics in plant - soil - environment interactions, with a gradual increasing focus on integration of these components into productive and sustainable farming systems. Key work areas have been (i) Plant/crop responses to environmental stresses - examining interactive effects of temperature and photoperiod on peanut phenology and partitioning; chilling effects on peanut photosynthesis; and effects of water stress and soil mineral N status on legume N fixation; (ii) Plant response to soil biotic and abiotic stresses - studying impacts of crop rotation and management strategies on soil biota and pathogen activity; the effects of soil properties and management practices on Cd accumulation in grain legumes; nutrient requirements of different crop species against a background of declining native fertility reserves; and effects of soil organic matter on structure, nutrient dynamics, pathogen suppression and soil water balance; and (iii) Development of more sustainable management practices and farming systems - work focused on the interaction between management practices, crop productivity, farming system profitability and off site impacts. It includes studying the role of legumes in soil N cycling and disease management; use of fertilisers and organic wastes to maintain soil chemical fertility and crop productivity; the role of ley pastures and pasture management on soil health; the interactions between tillage, soil organic matter and soil biology in root health and nutrient and water use efficiency; and the impact of management practices on the off-site movement of nutrients and agricultural chemicals.

Areas of research