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Integrating Resource Management

Soil Microbial Ecology Research

Our research aims to understand the complex ecology of soil, with the objective of developing practical ways to manage soil biology towards improved plant production for our growers.

Scientists now use DNA technology to investigate soils. An important insight gained from this approach is recognising the enormous biodiversity of soil microflora, and the huge part they play in Earth ecosystems.  The genetic potential of soils was long known to medicine, where so many important drugs were discovered and which, once understood and developed, prolonged life. Finding a vast new extent to the domain of soil biology creates a new challenge.

Bioscience is not bewildered by this challenge. Our leading scientists have more than 50 years combined experience in soil and life sciences using DNA methods and other advanced technology. Our approach relies on the well established principles of ecology to focus on the dynamics of the system rather than on individual players.

Using a systems approach, we have developed analytical methods which provide rich information on how soil biology changes in space and time, and how this influences plant productivity. We archive all of the soil DNA we have recovered to have one of Australia’s largest collections. The majority of our samples come from farms, where the history of crop productivity and soil chemistry is recorded, but we can compare it to a wide range of natural and pristine environments, and to paddocks which have problems like disease, acidity or non-wetting soils.