Australia's extensive rangelands support large cattle herds. The grazing industry seeks knowledge of how to best manage the land. Deteriorating soil health is a recognised problem that commences with the loss of biocrusts, the living soil cover. Biocrusts contain microbial communities that are integral for preventing erosion and maintaining soil fertility. Our interdisciplinary research studies biocrusts from fundamental science to practical application. We aim to identify how the presence of beneficial microbes can be maximised and renew soil nitrogen via biological nitrogen fixation. Advanced remote sensing tools are now available to integrate from the molecular characterisation of biocrusts to landscape level function. The project contributes to Meat & Livestock Australia's aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. A motivated student with knowledge in soil and environmental science and remote sensing can gain extensive experience in relevant techniques and relevant topic across ecology, pasture science and carbon-neutral farming. The candidate will be competitive for a PhD stipend and apply for industry-sponsored top-up funding.

Project members

Primary Supervisor:

Professor Susanne Schmidt

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Associate Supervisor: Andries Potgieter (QAAFI)