Mark Norton

Research interests

  • Pasture and rangeland ecophysiology and agronomy
  • Improvement of plant persistence under drought
  • Summer dormancy in temperate perennial grasses
  • Dehydration avoidance / tolerance and plant water relations
  • Climate-change impacts on productivity and persistence of pasture and crop plants
  • Improvement of crop and pasture yield and persistence by ameliorating low pH soils with lime
  • Overcoming constraints to legume nodulation, N fixation and yield on acid soils
  • Prospects for perennial wheat


Mark joined NSW Agriculture* in 1990 as a research agronomist and has undertaken research in pasture plant evaluation, management and physiology. He has over 30 years scientific research experience in a range of countries including Pakistan, France, Germany, temperate and tropical Australia, and has written extensively.

Mark undertook his PhD research at the Laboratory for the Ecophysiology of Plants in Stress Environments (LEPSE) of INRA at Montpellier, France and wrote his thesis at the University of Queensland. Mark has a wide range of research interests but is considered an authority on traits associated with drought survival in perennial grasses and is stationed at Wagga Wagga. Mark's Researcher ID is A-5927-2010.

*NSW Department of Primary Industries was formed on July 1, 2004 through an amalgamation of NSW Agriculture, NSW Fisheries, State Forests of NSW, and the NSW Department of Mineral Resources.


  • B.A. (Geography) – Flinders University 1977
  • B. App. Sc. Rural Tech (Hons) – Qld. Agric. College 1983
  • M. Agr. St. - University of Qld. 1987
  • PhD. Agricultural Science – University of Qld. 2007

Current projects

  • Nitrogen fixing break-crops and pastures for high rainfall zone acid soils.
  • Livestock Productivity Partnership-Increasing livestock production by integrating tropical pastures into farming systems.
  • Extending the boundaries of legume adaptation through better soil management.
  • Increasing the effectiveness of nitrogen fixation in pulses through improved rhizobial strains in the GRDC Northern Region.
  • Vulnerability of the NSW Extensive Livestock Industry to Climate Change.

Recent publications

Norton, Mark R., Garden, Denys L., Orchard, Beverley A., Armstrong, Philip (2018)Ameliorating acidity of an extensively-managed permanent pasture soil. Soil Use and Management, September 2018, 34, 343–353,doi: 10.1111/sum.12441.

Hayes, Richard C., Li, Guangdi D., Norton, Mark R., Culvenor, Richard A. (2017) Effects of contrasting seasonal growth patterns on composition and persistence of mixed grass-legume pastures over 5 years in a semi-arid Australian cropping environment. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science, 204, (3): 228-242. DOI: 10.1111/jac.12258.

Tufail, M.S., Nielsen, S., Southwell, A., Krebs, G.L., Piltz, J.W., Norton, M.R., Wynn, P.C. (2017) Constraints to adoption of improved technology for Berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum) cultivation in Punjab, Pakistan. Experimental Agriculture,

Culvenor, R. A., Norton, M.R.,  De Faveri, J. (2017) Persistence and productivity of phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.) germplasm in dry marginal rainfall environments of south-eastern Australia.Crop and Pasture Science 68(8) 781-797

Volaire, F., Kallida, R., Norton, M., Malinowski, D., Barre, P. (2016) Fodder grass selection in the Mediterranean : the role of summer dormancy. In ‘The Mediterranean region under climate change: A scientific update’.  Allenvi. IRD Editions, Marseille, France 2016. pp: 495-501.

Nichols, P.G.H., Norton, M.R. (2016) Improvement of pasture and forage legumes and grasses for Mediterranean climate zones. In ‘Options Méditerranéennes Series A No. 114 – Ecosystem services and socio-economic benefits of Mediterranean grasslands’, Proceedings of the 15th Meeting of the FAO-CIHEAM sub-network on Mediterranean pastures and fodder crops, (Eds A. Kryiazopoulis, A López-Francos, C Porqueddu, P. Sklavou) 12-14 April 2016, Orestiada, Greece pp. 157-168.

Norton, M. R., Malinowski, D. P. and Volaire F. (2016) Plant drought survival under climate change and strategies to improve perennial grasses. A Review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 36 (2) 1-15. DOI: 10.1007/s13593-016-0362-1.

Volaire. F., Barkaoui K., Norton M. (2014) Designing resilient and sustainable grasslands for a drier future: adaptive strategies, functional traits and biotic interactions. European Journal of Agronomy, 52: 81-89.

Norton, M.R. and Koetz, E. A. (2014) Cover-cropping and establishment of lucerne-based pastures in a semi-arid zone, mixed farming system of uniform rainfall distribution. Grass and Forage Science. 69: 334-347.

Larkin, Philip J., Newell, Matthew T., Hayes, Richard C., Aktar, Jesmin., Norton, Mark R., Moroni, Sergio J., and Wade, Len J. (2014) Progress in developing perennial wheats for grain and grazing. Crop and Pasture Science, 65, 1147-1164.

Norton, M. R., Lelièvre, the late F., and Volaire, F. (2014) Measuring dehydration tolerance in pasture grasses to improve drought survival. Crop and Pasture Science, 658, 828-840.

McCormick, Jeff I., Hayes, Richard C., Li, Guangdi., and Norton, Mark R. (2014).A review of pasture establishment by under-sowing with special reference to the mixed farming zone of south-eastern Australia. Crop and Pasture Science, 65, 10, 956-972.

Professional associations and activities

  • Adjunct Associate Professor-Charles Sturt University
  • The Grassland Society of New South Wales

Fields of research

  • 070303 Crop and Pasture Biochemistry and Physiology
  • 070302 Agronomy
  • 070399 Crop and Pasture Production not elsewhere classified

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Plant ecophysiology
  • Drought resistance
  • Summer dormancy
  • Climate-Change impacts on crops and pastures
  • Soil pH and plant persistence
  • Perennial wheat
  • Nodulation and N fixation
  • Soil acidity amelioration

Contact details