HIRST, Phillip

Research interests

Effects of peat fire and groundwater management in acid sulfate soil wetlands, wetland ecosystems


Phil Hirst joined the NSW DPI in 1983 as a Technical Officer (Sci) based at the Grafton Research Station. He has over 15 years research experience in natural resource management projects such as the hydrological effects of floodgate management on coastal floodplain agriculture, wetland grazing management, floodplain grazing project and hydraulic conductivity assessment of coastal floodplain wetland areas on the north coast of NSW. Previous experience has been in soybean nodulation and nutrition, pasture and cropping systems, sugarcane fertiliser and soil management trials.


  • HDA(Dip Appl Sci)
  • Masters Candidate at SCU

Current projects

  • Effect of extreme heat on Fe oxides and trace metals in organic rich acid sulfate soils
  • The effects of drain re-shaping on reducing acid flux from a drained coastal acid sulfate soil backswamp

Recent publications

Hirst P., Bush R., Slavich P., Johnston S. (2012) Effect of bushfire on soil geochemistry in Fe and organic rich (peat) acid sulfate soil material. In “Proceedings of the 3rd National Acid Sulfate Soil Conference”, 5 – 8 March, Melbourne, Australia.

Wong V.N.L., Triantafilis J., Johnston S.G., Nhan T., Sullivan L.A., Bush R.T., Burton E.D., Slavich P.G., Hirst P.  (2012) A new method to rapidly and accurately map acid sulfate soils: exploring the utility of an EM38.  In “Proceedings of the 3rd National Acid Sulfate Soil Conference”, 5 – 8 March, Melbourne, Australia.

Wong VNL, Triantafilis J, Johnston SG2, Nhan T, D Page, R Wege, P Hirst, Slavich PG. (2012) Mapping sub-surface acidity for targeted land and water management strategies on a coastal acid sulfate soil floodplain. Soil Science Australia conference Hobart 2012.

Hirst P.
, Slavich P., Johnston S., Walsh S. (2010) Assessment of saturated hydraulic conductivity in coastal floodplain acid sulfate soils In: "Proceedings of the 19th World Congress of Soil Science, Brisbane". 1-6 August, Brisbane, Australia. (Poster award)

Wong V.N.L., Hirst P., Johnston S.G., Bush R.T., Sullivan L.A., Burton E.D., Slavich P.G. (2010) Impacts of sea level rise on the biogeochemistry of a coastal floodplain in eastern Australia. In '19th World Congress of Soil Science: 1–6 August.' Brisbane, Australia.

Wong V.N.L., Johnston S.G., Hirst P., Burton E.D., Bush R.T., Sullivan L.A., Slavich P.G. (2010) Sea-level rise impacts on coastal water quality: interactions between porewater, surface- and shallow groundwater geochemistry. In 'Groundwater2010: the challenge of sustainable management: 31st October – 4th November.' Canberra, Australia.

Phillip Hirst (2010) The effects of drain re-shaping on reducing acid flux from a drained acid sulfate soils backswamp. In “Proceedings of the Australian Society of Soil Science Inc, NSW Branch”, 7th December, Wollongbar. Australia.

Johnston S.G., Hirst P., Slavich P.G., Bush R.T., Aaso T. (2009) Saturated hydraulic conductivity of sulfuric horizons in coastal floodplain acid sulfate soils: Variability and implications. Geoderma 151, 387-394.

Johnston S.G., Slavich P.G., Hirst P., (2005). Changes in surface water quality after inundation of acid sulfate soils with different vegetation cover. Australian Journal of Soil Research 43, 1-12.

Johnston S.G., Slavich P.G., Hirst P., (2005). The effects of controlled tidal exchange on improving drainage water quality in acid sulfate soil backswamps. Agricultural Water Management 73, 87-111.

Johnston S.G., Slavich P.G., Hirst P., (2005). Opening floodgates in coastal floodplain drains: effects on tidal forcing and lateral transport of solutes in adjacent groundwater. Agricultural Water Management 74, 23-46.

Professional associations and activities

  • Soil Science Australia

Fields of research (ANZ standard research classification)

  • 050209 Natural Resource Management

Keywords/phrase list of research interests

  • Acid sulfate soils
  • Acid sulfate soil peat
  • Peatlands
  • Wetlands

Contact details

Email: phillip.hirst@dpi.nsw.gov.au