Nutrient re-distribution and availability in ameliorated and cultivated soils in the Western Region
Understanding nutrient redistribution after soil renovation
While there has been increasing interest in practices of mechanical soil amelioration, relatively little is known about how they impact soil nutrient supply.
You will work within a team to investigate the effect of mechanical amelioration on Carbon and Nitrogen pathways (e.g. mineralisation and nitrification rates) at various soil depths.
These laboratory experiments will involve repeat soil sampling analysis (pre and post-soil disturbance) and be based on 15N isotopic pool dilution techniques that enable the specific pathways of the soil nitrogen cycle to be separated. New knowledge on the impact of mechanical soil amelioration on the rate of decomposition of soil organic matter and its implications for soil nutrient supply will be generated.
Decomposition rates of soil organic matter at varying depths will be assessed using a combination of in situ decomposition measurements linked to molecular measurements of the soil organic matter decomposition cascade. The decomposition rates from soil at depth will be used to estimate how soil nitrogen supply to crops changes after mechanical soil amelioration.
You will be a part of a multidisciplinary team working within the SoilsWest alliance which brings together core and translational science, as well as industry with a focus on outcomes benefiting the agricultural industry and environment.
Training will be provided to the successful student in use of 15N stable isotopes and molecular ecology to study soil processes that influence soil nutrient supply.
As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will undertake:
- Field and laboratory experiments to deliver an improved understanding of soil N supply and N fertiliser use efficiency.
- Field experiments to capture the residual benefit of organic and inorganic N on the following crop.
- PhD training will also include mass spectrometry, experimental design, soil chemistry, biological processes, data analysis and scientific writing.
- Opportunities will be provided to present findings to farmer groups, agribusiness and at national and international conferences.
- You will be expected to develop their thesis as a series of high quality journal research publications.
Collaborations and funding
This PhD scholarship is part of the AUD$3.4 million investment in “Nutrient re-distribution and availability in ameliorated and cultivated soils in the Western Region” by the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation. The project is well resourced in terms of operating (consumables and field expenses etc) and access to field trials.
- AUD$30,000 per year (tax free) stipend for 3.5 years paid to the student as a fortnightly stipend
- All experimental consumables, laboratory expenses and field trial travel costs are paid by the project
- International student tuition fees provided by the university (normally $45,000 per year)
- Registration fee for the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis paid by project
- Up to AUD$2000 for relocation to Perth, Western Australia
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