Mark Norton

Research interests

  • Pasture, rangeland and weed 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 is 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' (GRDC supported project).
  • 'Overcoming constraints to low seed yields of drought tolerant pasture grasses' (NSW DPI supported project).
  • The development of a low input undervine floor management system which improves profitability without compromising yield or quality (Wine Australia supported project)

Recent publications

Norton, M.R., Lelievre, F., Volaire, F. (2012) Summer dormancy in Phalaris aquatica L., the influence of season of sowing and summer moisture regime on two contrasting cultivars. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science. 198, (1)1-13 .

Hayes, R.C., Newell, M.T., DeHaan, L.R., Murphy, K.M., Crane, S., Norton, M.R., Wade, L.J., Newberry, M., Fahim, M., Jones, S.S., Cox, T.S., Larkin, P.J. (2012) Perennial cereal crops: an initial evaluation of wheat derivatives. Field Crops Research 133, 68-89.

Norton, M.R., and Volaire F. (2012) Selection of pasture and forage species adapted to changing environmental conditions in Mediterranean climates. Options Méditerranéennes, A, no. 102, 'New approaches for grassland research in a context of climate and socio-economic changes.' pp 119 - 128.

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, 65, 8, 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.

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.

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.

Professional associations and activities

  • Associate Editor-Grass & Forage Science
  • Adjunct Senior Lecturer-Charles Sturt University
  • Secretary- Australian Grassland Association
  • 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 and lime amelioration

Contact details