Postgraduate Profiles

Mark Rivers

Mark Rivers profile photo

Thesis: Determination of in-farm water and nutrient use, incorporation and loss mechanisms on Western Australian grazing properties.

Despite the increasing significance of nutrients lost from the soils of urban and urbanising areas in Western Australia, the loss of nutrients (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen) from agricultural systems continues to be a major concern for the health of regional waterways.

This research seeks to improve the understanding of nutrient movement within and from agricultural systems – particularly grazing systems – by the analysis of nutrient transport and storage routes and mechanisms through a number of agricultural properties.

Irrigated and non-irrigated dairy and beef properties will be studied to ascertain the relative and absolute importance of the key water and nutrient “control points” within the farming systems. This will provide improved information to assist with the strategic implementation of nutrient control "best management practices" throughout catchments experiencing nutrient loss issues.

Why my research is important

Nutrient loss from urban and rural land to regional waterways continues to be a significant environmental issue around the world.

In many instances eutrophication leads to undesirable and sometimes toxic algal blooms which can then result in fish kills and other impacts on aquatic ecosystems. In some instances, eutrophication can also lead to the pollution of important sources of water for human consumption.

The loss of nutrients in agricultural systems, in particular, has long been known to be a significant contributor to nutrients reaching waterways, and much work has been completed on the development of environmental best practices for nutrient management. However, there is a knowledge gap in the linking of “best” and “current” practices to measured in-farm and off-site nutrient movement, storage and transportation.

An improved understanding of this link is imperative in allowing strategic placement of nutrient management measures at the farm and catchment scales.