WHATMUFF, Mark

Research interests

  • Impact of heavy metals and other contaminants on the soil and wider environment, including their short and long-term bioavailability to plants and soil organisms
  • Impact of contaminants on soil microbial function e.g. respiration, nitrification and carbon cycling
  • Effects of heavy metals and other contaminants on agricultural production
  • Long term stability of metal-organic matter interactions and their effects on the efficacy of using organic amendments to sequester C in soils
  • Influence of soil acidifying reactions associated with the use of organic amendments on metal bioavailability and mobility
  • Development of protocols and test methods to assess the long term impacts of contaminants on soil health
  • Amelioration of contaminated agricultural soils
  • Beneficial reuse of organic and inorganic wastes in agriculture

Background

Mark is a Soil Chemist with more than 20 years experience in investigating the impact of heavy metals and other contaminants on agricultural production, the soil and the wider environment. He has undertaken numerous research and consultancy projects in this area both as lead investigator or in collaboration with a larger research team. He has a history of collaboration with environmental regulators in NSW and other parts of Australia.

Mark’s research has centred on assessing the effects of contaminants associated with a range of organic waste amendments applied to field soils; their effects on crop production and product quality, soil health, particularly from the viewpoint of soil microbial functionality, and soil chemistry including the medium to long-term sorption of applied contaminants by soil and soil components. His work has contributed to the formulation of regulatory guidelines designed to allow the safe reuse of organic amendments such as biosolids. He has also studied the effects of various processes such as soil acidification, on the long-term suitability of applying waste materials as soil amendments. He is currently involved with research investigating the use of a range of municipal waste materials as soil amendments and this work includes assessing the effects of a range of inorganic and organic contaminants on crop production, soil chemistry and soil microbial function. Opportunities are now being presented to couple his research on the long-term bioavailability of contaminants in organic amendments, with the efficacy of using these materials for enhanced sequestration of C in soils. He has also carried out studies using various waste materials that may aid in the amelioration of contaminated agricultural soils.

Qualifications

  • B.Sc. Agr – University of Sydney 1986
  • M.Sc. Agr – University of Sydney 1991
  • Currently finalising PhD in Soil Science – University of Adelaide

Current projects

  • Preliminary evaluation of steel furnace slag barren fines and granulated blast furnace slag as liming ameliorants for use in agriculture
  • A field evaluation of MSW compost for use as a soil amendment

Recent publications

Heemsbergen, D; Warne, St.J, Broos, K, Bell M, Nash, D, McLaughlin, MJ, Whatmuff, MS, Barry, G, Pritchard, D, and Penney, N (2009). Application of phytotoxicity data to a new Australian soil quality guideline framework for biosolids. Science of the Total Environment. 407(8):2546-2556

Heemsbergen DA, McLaughlin MJ, Whatmuff MS, Warne MStJ, Broos K, Bell M, Nash D, Barry G, Pritchard D, Penney N (2010) Bioavailability of zinc and copper in biosolids compared to their soluble salts. Environmental Pollution 158, 1907-1915.

McLaughlin, MJ, Warne, M StJ, Stevens, DP, Whatmuff, MS, Heemsbergen, D, Broos, K, Barry, G, Bell, MJ, Nash, D, Pritchard, D, and Penney, N (2007). Australia's National Biosolid Research Program - How it came about, and what has it discovered? Water Practice and Technology 2(4), art 88.

McLaughlin, MJ; Whatmuff, MS, Warne, M StJ, Heemsbergen, D, Barry, G, Bell, M, Nash, D, and Pritchard, DA (2006). Field Investigation of Solubility and Food Chain Accumulation of Biosolid-Cadmium Across Diverse Soil Types. Environmental Chemistry. 3(6):428-432.    

Michalk, DL, Whatmuff, MS, Osborne, GJ, and Gibson, TS (2004) Benefits and Risks Associated With Biosolids Application to Agricultural Production Systems - Experiences From New South Wales, Australia. In: Waste Management, Juhasz, A. L. Magesan G. Naidu R., Eds pp. 157-201. Science Publishers Inc. ISBN 1-57808-323-0

Warne, M St J, Heemsbergen, D, McLaughlin, MJ, Bell, M, Broos, K, Whatmuff, MS, Barry, G, Nash, D, Pritchard, D, and Penney, N. (2008). Models for the field-based toxicity of copper and zinc salts to wheat in 11 Australian soils and comparison to laboratory-based models. Environmental Pollution. 156(3):707-714

Warne, M St J, Heemsbergen, D, Stevens, D, McLaughlin, MJ, Cozens, G, Whatmuff, MS, Broos, K, Barry, G, Bell, M, Nash, D, Pritchard, D, and Penney, N (2008). Modelling the toxicity of copper and zinc salts to wheat in 14 soils. Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. 27(4):786-792

Whatmuff, MS (2002). Applying biosolids to acid soils in New South Wales: are guideline soil metal limits from other countries appropriate? Australian Journal of Soil Research 40(6):1041-1056.

Scientific reports
Heemsbergen, D., Broos, K., Whatmuff, MS, Warne, M St J, McLaughlin, MJ, Stevens, D., Smart, M, Fiebiger, C, Baldock, C, Cozens, G, Tomczak B, and Daly, A. (2007) Final Report for the South Australian Component of the National Biosolids Research Project CSIRO Land and Water Science Report 21/07

Warne M St J, McLaughlin MJ, Bell M, Barry G, Pham Quang Ha, Pongsakul P, Whatmuff M, Heemsbergen D, Cozens G, Zarcinas B, and Bui Cach Tuyen.(2007) Final Report for ACIAR Project LWR1/1998/119 - Impact of heavy metals on sustainability of fertilisation and waste recycling in peri-urban and intensive agriculture in South East Asia

Whatmuff, MS, McLaughlin MJ, Warne M St J, Langdon K, Harvey D, Broos K, Heemsbergen D. (2005a). Final Report for the Environmental Trust Grant No.2001/RD/G001 ‘Guidelines for the safe re-use of metal-containing wastes on land’ 30 October 2005

Whatmuff, MS
, Warne M St J, McLaughlin, MJ, Langdon, K, Harvey, D. (2005b) The National Biosolids Research Program: Evaluation of benefits and risks from Lime Stabilised Biosolids Final Report To Sydney Water Corporation, December 2005 Proposal 10008072

Whatmuff, MS, Dougherty, WJ, Harvey, DM, Kirby, JK and Hossain, MK (2012) Final Report to Australian Steel Mill Services: Preliminary evaluation of steel furnace slag (barren fines) and granulated blast furnace slag as liming ameliorants for use in agriculture – June 2012

Conference proceedings

Broos, K, Warne, MStJ, Heemsbergen, D, McLaughlin, MJ, Barry, G, Bell, M, Whatmuff, MS, Nash, D, Pritchard, D and Penney, N (2006). Soil pH and time affect Cu and Zn toxicity towards microbial processes in Australian agricultural soils: Implications for biosolid guidelines. Proceedings of the AWA Biosolids Specialty Conference III, 7-8 June, Melbourne, Australia.

Heemsbergen, D., Warne M St J, McLaughlin, MJ, Whatmuff, MS, Bell, M, Barry G, Nash, D, Pritchard, D and Penney N (2008) The challenge of deriving soil specific guidelines, a proposed Australian approach. Proceedings 5th SETAC (Society for Environmental toxicology and Chemistry) World Conference, Sydney Australia, 3-7 August 2008.

McLaughlin MJ, Whatmuff, MS, Warne M St J, Heemsbergen D, Barry G, Bell M, Nash D, Pritchard D and Penney N (2006). Cadmium transfer to crops from biosolids-amended soils: implications for food quality, national regulations and international markets. Proceedings of the AWA Biosolids Specialty Conference III, 7-8 June, Melbourne, Australia. ISBN 0-908255-66-7. 2A.01. p. 1-6.

McLaughlin MJ, Whatmuff, MS, Warne MStJ, Heemsbergen D, Barry G, Bell M, Nash D, Pritchard D and Penney N (2007). Predicting the Risk from Cadmium Transfer to Crops from Soils Amended with Biosolids. Proceedings of the OZWater ’07 Conference, paper 07291, 7p.

Warne M St J, Cozens G, Stevens D, Whatmuff, MS, McLaughlin MJ (2006). Toxicity of copper and zinc to wheat in 14 Australian soils and modelling using soil physicochemical properties. Proceedings Interact ’06, Perth 24 -28 September, 2006.

Warne, M. S. J., McLaughlin, M.J., Heemsbergen, D.A., Whatmuff, MS, Broos, K., Bell, M., Barry, G., Nash, D., Butler, C., Pritchard, D., Penney, N., Langdon, K., Kookana, R., Shareef, A. and Smernik, R.  (2010). The use of biosolids in Australian agriculture – influence of research and future developments. . Proceedings of the “Use of sewage sludge in agriculture: Evaluation after Conama resolution n. 375". (Brazilian national workshop sponsored by the Brazilian Department of Agriculture) 19 – 20 May 2009, Instituto Agronômico de Campinas, Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Whatmuff, MS, McLaughlin MJ and Kirby, JK (2008). Do biosolids and animal manures increase metal adsorption in receiving soils? Proceedings 5th SETAC (Society for Environmental toxicology and Chemistry) World Conference, Sydney Australia, 3-7 August 2008

Whatmuff, MS, Warne M St J, McLaughlin MJ and Broos K (2005). The relative toxicity and attenuation of Cd, Cu and Zn on acidic NSW soils: A comparison between inorganic salts and biosolids treatments. Proceedings 8th International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements, Adelaide, 3-7 April, 2005. p. 510-511.

Professional associations and activities

  • N/A

Fields of research (ANZ standard research classification)

  • 039901 Environmental Chemistry
  • 050304 Soil Chemistry
  • 050399 Soil Sciences not elsewhere classified
  • 050209 Natural Resource Management

Keywords/phrase list of research interests

  • Heavy metals
  • Bioavailability
  • Soil microbial function
  • Metal-organic matter interactions
  • Organic amendments
  • Soil acidifying reactions
  • Soil health
  • Amelioration of contaminated agricultural soils
  • Organic and inorganic wastes

Contact details

Email: mark.whatmuff@dpi.nsw.gov.au
Location: Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, Menangle