Soil and Organics Research
This unit is divided into four research areas.
- The Soil and Land Use team undertakes soil survey and site characterisation for both research and commercial uses of agricultural and forest land.
- The Soil Health team undertakes research to protect and enhance the chemical, physical and biological fertility of soil resources that underpin agriculture and forestry production systems worth $10 billion annually to NSW. Focus research areas include nitrogen management and legume use, soil structure and carbon management, management and movement of nutrients in a range of extensive and intensive agricultural systems, soil acidification processes and management, biological constraints to production, and managing erosion in high rainfall horticultural systems.
- The Recycled Organics team develops options for the sustainable agricultural and forest reuse of the large volumes of organic and inorganic waste products generated by urban communities which would otherwise be a disposal problem (garden and domestic waste, sewage sludge, food industry wastes, grease trap wastes, etc.). Research identifies technologies to process this material into reusable products, characterise the derived products and evaluates the impact of these products on agricultural and forest land and their potential to rehabilitate degraded or environmentally sensitive land. Research quantifies the presence of heavy metals or other contaminants and tracks the fate of any contaminants in the product chain. The program also helps regulators to develop policies and guidelines for the sustainable management of recycled organic and inorganic products.
- The Environmental Health team develops and implements new and recognised technologies to assess and remediate environmental contamination affecting primary industries. Research includes using a licensed technology, CALUX®, for quantifying dioxin contamination and determining the bioavailability of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in soils and sediments; modelling of metals such as cadmium in soils; quantifying the degradation of natural and artificial hormones in sewage and intensive animal wastes; assessing copper contamination in orchards; remediation of cattle tick dip sites; and options for removing chemicals in runoff from intensive agriculture and evaluating novel options for sequestering carbon in soils. More details including a brochure and contact details are available.
Key research infrastructure
Research is undertaken at NSW DPI facilities at Wagga Wagga, Yanco, Menangle, Tamworth, Gosford, Wollongbar and Alstonville, with a range of additional research sites and projects throughout the state. The Centre for Recycled Organics in Agriculture (CROA) is a facility dedicated to recycled organics and is located at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute at Menangle. The Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology ISO9001 accredited laboratory for chemical analysis is located at Wollongbar.
Key research collaborations
CSIRO; Australian Greenhouse Office; NSW Greenhouse Office; Catchment Management Authorities; Grains R&D Corporation; Cotton R&D Corporation; Rural Industries R&D Corporation; Land and Water Australia; Cotton Catchment Communities CRC; other state agencies in NSW, Queensland and South Australia; universities including Sydney, Western Sydney, New England, Southern Cross and Charles Sturt.
The Soils, Recycled Organics and Environmental Health Unit has online summaries of its scientific outputs. In some cases the summary has the full outputs available as a PDF which can be downloaded. The scientific outputs are arranged by year of publication.
Find a list of Soil and Organics Research scientists.
Dr Peter Slavich
Research Leader, Soil and Organics Research
Phone 02 6626 1352