Lukas Van Zwieten

Research interests

  • Biochar, zero waste and circular economy
  • Carbon and nutrient cycling
  • Soil greenhouse gas emissions
  • Mechanisms and technologies for soil C sequestration
  • Rhizosphere engineering to enhance sustainable crop and pasture productivity
  • Development of novel fertilisers and soil amendments
  • Pesticide fate and behaviour, including management of residual herbicides


Lukas Van Zwieten obtained a PhD from the University of Sydney in 1995, and soon after joined the NSW Department of Primary Industries (then NSW Agriculture).  He is Director of Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute and is a Program Leader (Program 4- Integrated Solutions) for the Soils Cooperative Research Centre having been involved from the very beginning of this $160M 10-year investment in soils as part of the committee preparing the original bid.

Lukas' research focuses on processes in the soil including C and N cycling, understanding mechanisms and developing technologies for storing Soil Organic Carbon, and how these relate to greenhouse gas emissions. He's also investigated how  unravelling microbial and chemical processes in the rhizosphere may enable the development of novel fertilisers and amendments to address soil constraints and build soil C.

Lukas has been a Highly Cited Researcher (Web of Science) in the cross-field category for three consecutive years - 2018, 2019 and 2020, being in the top 1% internationally. He has over 160 refereed journal papers and has a Scholar H-score of 52 and is a Churchill Fellow. In 2016 Lukas received the NSW Premiers Award “Public Sector Science and Engineering,”

Lukas' research on biochar was acclaimed in the 2007 United Nations’ World Environment Day Award “Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge,” and it has been popularised through the Australian Broadcasting Corporations Catalyst program (2007), a CNN “special report” in 2008, ABC’s Landline (2009) and Discovery Channels “Ecopolis” mini series in 2009/10.

Qualifications and awards

  • BScArg (Hons) - The University of Sydney 1990
  • PhD (Agricultural Chemistry and Soil Science) -The University of Sydney 1995


Soil microbial indicators: what do they mean and how can they be used? (partners: Soil CRC, Southern Cross University, SARDI and several grower groups).

2020-2023:           Growing better crops on highly calcareous soils by improving establishment, early vigour and by ameliorating hostile subsoils (partners: GRDC, Soil CRC, SARDI).

Managing risks of the residual herbicides imazapic and diuron in the northern zone (partners: GRDC and QDAF)

Developing knowledge and tools for the management of residual herbicides in the southern cropping zone (partners: Soil CRC, Southern Cross University, Birchip Cropping Group, AirEP and WANTFA)

Redox in the Rhizosphere- paradigm shift in controlling soil chemical processes including P nutrition (partners: Soil CRC, Southern Cross University).

Assessment of underlying ecosystem processes and functions that account for changes to soil resilience, function and soil carbon stocks. (partners: Soil CRC and Griffith University).

Plant based solutions to improve soil performance (partners: Soil CRC, Southern Cross University, several grower groups).

Recent publications

Please refer to Dr Van Zwieten’s Google scholar page and his ORCID profile

Lukas has appeared in a number of videos: check out the SNoK recordings playlistSoil CRC video and Fact's about biochar video

Professional associations and activities

  • Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University
  • Adjunct Professor at the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University
  • Member of Soil Science Australia


  • Biochar
  • Zero waste
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Nitrogen
  • Herbicide

Contact details

Phone: (02) 6626 1126
Location: Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute