Decreases in soil organic matter and changes in form of organic carbon are a serious soil health issue leading to long term decreases in soil productivity. The loss of organic matter is largely due to poor land/soil management practices that enhance microbial decomposition and release of soil carbon. 

Our research focuses on restoration or increase of soil organic carbon levels (thereby soil health) through the use of various forms of organic inputs (e.g. biosolids, composts, biochar and lignite). Our aim is to increase nutrient bio-availability to promote crop growth and production which will in-turn enable agricultural systems to sequester more carbon and improve nutrient cycling and soil-plant water relationships.

Research Projects

  • Urban biochar: Towards prescriptive biochar use for maximum economic productivity and sustainability benefits in urban environments

    Funded by: ARC-linkage 2011/12 (requested)

  • The effect of Biochar and Lignite on gaseous loss of nitrogen from feedlot manure

    Funded by: MLA

  • Effect of sub-soiling and deep placement of organic amendments (dry poultry manure, bio-char and lignite ) on soil physical characteristics and wheat yields

    Field study in collaboration with La Trobe University and DPI (VIC)

  • Effect of surface application bio-char and lignite growth and yield of wheat

    Field study in collaboration with La Trobe University and DPI (VIC)

  • Effect of bio-char and lignite on growth, yield and nutrient recovery of canola under two soil types (Glasshouse investigation)
  • Effect of accelerated aging and priming on carbon release from bio-char and lignite (a laboratory incubation trial)

Research Group Contact Information

Name and Honorifics: Dr Tony Weatherley
Title: Lecturer
Ph: +61 3 8344 4642
The Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
The University of Melbourne


Research Students

  • Piumika Abesekara: Mitigation of nitrogenous emissions from cattle feedlot manures using natural amendments
  • Paz Bernaschina: A contrast and comparison of the agronomic, ecological and idealogical aspects among biodynamic, organic and conventional farming systems

Relevant Publications

  • R. S. Correa, R. E. White & A. J. Weatherley (2012). Effects of sewage sludge stabilization on organic-N mineralization in two soils. Soil Use and Management 28, 12–18
  • Weatherley, AJ and Nguyen, TKP (2012). The effect of urban biochar on phosphorus fractions in an acid dairy soil. Joint Australia and New Zealand Soil Science Conference

Relevant links