Our research efforts across four broad, interdisciplinary themes create a range of long-term outcomes both in Australia and abroad.

Improving crop productivity and profitability

Projects include:

  • improving the management of banana systems for landholders in the Great Lakes region of Africa
  • developing sorghum with more feed grain energy through bigger grains and higher starch contents
  • improving the efficiency of fertiliser use and placement within soils
  • developing novel next-generation bio-fertilisers
  • examining teak-based agroforestry systems to enhance and diversify smallholder livelihoods in Lao PDR
  • identification of the peptide hormones controlling legume nodulation and nitrogen fixation
  • sustaining soil fertility in support of intensification of sweet potato cropping systems in Papua New Guinea.

Understanding disease resistance and defence mechanisms

Projects include:

  • the development of a simple and reliable diagnostic assay that will enable the detection of Bogia Coconut Syndrome for use in Papua New Guinea
  • examining how banana systems can be managed with Fusarium wilt
  • regeneration of a soil food web to improve soil health and reduce crop losses from soil-borne pests and pathogens
  • understanding rust resistance and grain dormancy in wheat.

Decreasing adverse environmental outcomes from agriculture

Projects include:

  • improving water quality outcomes in the Great Barrier Reef through better on-farm management of nitrogen
  • improving the efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser use in agricultural systems impacting on the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

Understanding plant growth in degraded soils and landscapes

Projects include:

  • understanding why plant root growth is inhibited in acid soils
  • investigating the environmental impacts of the increasingly widespread use of metallic nanoparticles 
  • quantifying the costs soil constraints on grain production across Australia
  • improving wheat yields on sodic, magnesic and dispersive soils.

Research outcomes and impact

Our major research outcomes include:

  • crop improvement strategies that include delivery platform technologies to enhance crop resilience to biotic/abiotic stresses and resource use efficiency 
  • high-yielding, environmentally and economically sustainable crop production systems
  • novel crops and products for future bio-economies
  • development of robust, adaptable nutrient and water management practices to maximise soil fertility, productivity, profitability and long-term sustainability of agricultural systems
  • innovative soil remediation and land rehabilitation strategies
  • derivation of scientifically-validated assessments of potential environmental risk or future impacts on soil productivity.