Healthy soils are vital engines for socio-economic, environmental and population health. Soil is a non-renewable resource and the foundation for food production.
Soil degradationis a major threat to international food security. Faced with soil degradation and population growth, Australia and China have come together to establish Healthy Soils for Sustainable Food Production and Environmental Quality, a Joint Research Centre (JRC) to address food security and sustainable soil management.
The Centre is dedicated to
- delivering new solutions to challenges in sustainable agricultural management
- training early and mid-career-researchers through bilateral study opportunities
- facilitating collaboration between stakeholders in Australia and China.
The four strategic priorities of the Centre are:
- Synchronisation of nutrient and water resources
- Recovery of resources from agricultural wastes
- Soil processes and remediation
- Supply chain and food credentials
The Centre brings internationally-recognised researchers from Australia and China together with industry leaders and national decision makers to carry out research, training, and develop partnerships across the supply chain. This approach ensures targeted research with outputs that are transferable to the industry and other end users.
The Centre is one of six Joint Research Centres (JRC) co-funded by both the Australian and Chinese governments as part of the Australia-China Science and Research Fund.
University of Melbourne is the lead for this JRC. Professor Deli Chen leads the Centre as Centre Director. The centre brings together expertise from across Australia including the CSIRO, the University of New England, University of Sydney and University of Western Australia.
In China, the Centre is supported by ten partners including the Chinese Agricultural University, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and Nanjing Agricultural University.
Centre Steering Committee
- Prof Deli Chen, Centre Director
- Prof Mike McLaughlin, Independent Chair
- Dr Ee-Ling Ng, Centre Manager
- Mr Rowan Williams, BASF
- Mr Charlie Walker, Incitec Pivot
- Dr Enli Wang, CSIRO
- Prof Daniel Murphy, University of Western Australia
- Prof Tony O’Donnell, University of Western Australia
- Prof Iain Young, The University of Sydney
The JRC focuses on four research themes:
Synchronisation of nutrients and water resources
Efficient use of nutrients and water are key components of sustainable agriculture. Research within this theme looks at the development of enhanced efficiency fertilisers, precision agriculture and decision making tools.
Prof Zhang Fusuo
Director of Center for Resources, Environment and Food Security
China Agricultural University
Professor Iain Young
Head, School of Life and Environmental Sciences
The University of Sydney
Recovery of resources from agricultural wastes
Agricultural production systems are sub-optimal in their waste management and materials regarded as ‘wastes’ are often valuable co-products. Research within this theme looks at the production of stable, pathogen-free bioproducts, understanding nutrient dynamics of recycled agricultural wastes and the use of the bioproducts inoculated with beneficial microbes to suppress soil-borne pathogens.
Professor Shen Qirong
College of Resources and Environmental Sciences
Nanjing Agricultural University
Professor Jim He
Professor of Molecular Soil Ecology
The University of Melbourne
Soil processes and remediation
Sub-soil properties that limit plant growth and heavy metal pollution are threats to agricultural productivity and safe food. Research within this theme examines a range of new technologies to mitigate the impact of contaminants and improve the hazard analysis and critical control points.
Professor Wu Jinshui
Director in Chief, the Institute of Subtropical Agriculture
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Professor Tony O’Donnell
Dean, Faculty of Science
University of Western Australia
Supply chain and food credentials
Activities in this theme focus on knowledge exchange and integration of soil management information developed in the other themes to develop a framework for evidence-based green credentials of agricultural products.
Professor Xu Minggang
Deputy Director General, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Professor Deli Chen
Director ACJRC - Healthy Soil, Healthy Food
The University of Melbourne
- The Professor GW Leeper Memorial Lecture
- New eBook on Australia’s agribusiness
- Applications now open: UWA-ISA CAS Joint PhD positions
- Group visit to the Heavy Metal Reaserch Base of ISA-CAS
- Academician Zhao Qiguo and Xie An-hua investigated Changsha station
- Academician Zhao Qiguo visits Beishan Heavy Metal Reaserch Base of ISA-CAS
- New research centre established with Yancheng city government
- A visit to Enviromix, recycler of garden organic materials
- Director-general visits Beishan Heavy Metal Research Base
- ARC-Linkage awarded to Centre partners
- International Nitrogen Initiative Conference and workshops on Nitrogen Footprints and International Nitrogen Management System
- Coomboona Dairy Farm Visit, 16 November 2016
- PhD scholarships available
- Chemistry PhD scholarship now open for applications for 2017
- American Society of Agronomy Announces 2017 Award Recipient
- New eBook on Soil Quality
Recent journal articles
- Liu R, Hayden H, Suter H, Hu HW, Lam SK, He JZ, Mele P, Chen D (2017). The effect of temperature and moisture on the source of N2O and contributions from ammonia oxidizers in an agricultural soil. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 53, 141-1522.
- Chalk PM, He JZ, Peoples MB, Chen D (2017). 15N2 as a tracer of biological N2fixation: A 75-year retrospective. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 106: 36-50.
- Coates TW, Fleschb TK, McGinnc SM, Charmleyd Ed, Chen D (2017). Evaluating an eddy covariance technique to estimate point-source emissions and its potential application to grazing cattle. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 234-235: 164-171.4.
- Xia Liang, Allison M. Leach, James N. Galloway, Baojing Gu, Shu Kee Lam, Deli Chen (2016). Beef and coal are key drivers of Australia's high nitrogen footprint, Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep39644
- Xia L, Lam SK, Yan X, Chen D. 2017 How Does Recycling of Livestock Manure in Agroecosystems Affect Crop Productivity, Reactive Nitrogen Losses, and Soil Carbon Balance? Environmental Science and Technology, doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b06470
- Rui, Y., Gleeson, D.B., Murphy, D. V, Hoyle, F.C., 2017. Response of microbial biomass and CO2-C loss to wetting patterns are temperature dependent in a semi-arid soil. Sci. Rep. 7.
- Wei, X., Hu, Y., Peng, P., Zhu, Z., Atere, C.T., O’Donnell, A.G., Wu, J., Ge, T., 2017. Effect of P stoichiometry on the abundance of nitrogen-cycle genes in phosphorus-limited paddy soil. Biol. Fertil. Soils 53, 767–776.
- Xia, L., Lam, S.K., Yan, X., Chen, D., 2017. How Does Recycling of Livestock Manure in Agroecosystems Affect Crop Productivity, Reactive Nitrogen Losses, and Soil Carbon Balance? Environ. Sci. Technol. 51, 7450–7457.
- Ng, E.-L., Huerta Lwanga, E., Eldridge, S.M., Johnston, P., Hu, H.-W., Geissen, V., Chen, D., 2018. An overview of microplastic and nanoplastic pollution in agroecosystems. Sci. Total Environ. 627, 1377–1388.
- Gou, M., Hu, H.-W., Zhang, Y.-J., Wang, J.-T., Hayden, H., Tang, Y.-Q., He, J.-Z., 2018. Aerobic composting reduces antibiotic resistance genes in cattle manure and the resistome dissemination in agricultural soils. Sci. Total Environ. 612, 1300–1310.
- Zhang, Y.-J., Hu, H.-W., Gou, M., Wang, J.-T., Chen, D., He, J.-Z., 2017. Temporal succession of soil antibiotic resistance genes following application of swine, cattle and poultry manures spiked with or without antibiotics. Environ. Pollut. 231, 1621–1632.
Liang X, Chen DL, Lam SK, Galloway JN, Leach AM. 2018 What you need to know about nitrogen pollution , Pursuit, 19 July 2018
Deli Chen, Baojing Gu 2018. Small farms and China’s reliance of agricultural chemicals, The Pursuit, 19 June 2018
Hannink N. 2017 The power of recycled poo, Pursuit, 23 August 2017
Ng EL. 2017 Plastic pollutants pervade water and land, The Scientist, 1 June 2017
The Centre management team is based at the University of Melbourne's Parkville campus
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
The University of Melbourne
Building 142, Royal Parade
Parkville 3010, Victoria
Ee Ling Ng
PhD (Soil Science), MSc (Applied Ecology), BSc (Biotechnology)