Considerable resources were invested over the past 50 years to research compost products that are able of suppressing soil-borne plant pathogens. The work, which was carried out primarily in the USA, Europe, Israel and also Australia, investigated many plant - pathogen - growing media - compost systems and assessed a wide range of factors that affect the efficacy of suppressive composts. Results were varied, giving rise to the concept of general and specific suppressiveness. General suppressiveness of compost supports the notion that compost use enhances soil health. Composts with specific suppressiveness however can be used as a biological control agent against specific plant pathogens.

However, production of Trichoderma-enhanced compost that suppresses onion white rot, for example, was not viable in Tasmania. This poses the question to what extent it was possible to successfully translate research results in this area into viable field applications. This question should be answered and obstacles should be identified that hinder successful  commercialisation before further research seeks to develop enhanced composts as biological control agents in specific plant-pathogen systems.

This project will attempt to answer these two questions by identifying successes and failures of producing and using composts specifically for their ability to suppress soil-borne plant pathogens. This will be done by contacting researchers working in this field, and following their leads, systematically extracting the desired information.

Location: Gatton and St Lucia

This project is offered to Honours and Masters by Coursework students.

Project members

Primary Supervisor

Mr Johannes Biala

Research Centre Manager
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Associate Supervisors

Professor Victor Galea

Deputy Head of School
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Professor Susanne Schmidt

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences