The Agricultural and Urban Waste Management research group aims to improve nutrient and resource recovery.
Agricultural and urban waste management is sub-optimal. Materials regarded as wastes are often valuable co-products and an important source of nutrients and organic matter.
This research group investigates nutrient re-use and recycling and the recovery of other valuable resources from agricultural and urban waste with the aim to generate stable, pathogen-free bioproducts that can be used as soil conditioners to improve sustainability of agricultural production systems and remediate degraded land.
Key focus areas include:
- The use of lignite (brown coal) and modified coal products to improve nitrogen retention in intensive animal production systems and during the subsequent processing and re-use of manures and composts
- Production of biochar from urban waste such as biosolids and green waste
- Improvement of soil properties using amendments such as biochar, lignite and municipal green waste.
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The group’s capabilities include advanced chemical analysis and the production of biochar to understand nutrient cycling and recovery.
We carry out a range of fundamental and applied research with the aim to help policy makers, industry partners and farmers make evidence-based decisions.
Nutrient and resource recovery from agricultural and urban wastes using novel technologies
Production of biochar from organic waste, biochar, compost and soil characterisation, glasshouse and laboratory incubation experiments to understand nutrient cycling and nutrient recovery from organic materials, in-vessel composting and quantification of greenhouse gases.
Soil node – Melbourne TrACEES Platform
The Melbourne Trace Analysis for Chemical, Earth and Environmental Sciences (TrACEES) Platform’s Soil node has a strong capability in soils and environmental research and testing.
Our researchers and graduate research students.
Professor Deli Chen
Professor of Soil Science; Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor
Deli Chen has expertise in water and nutrient dynamics in plant-soil systems, GIS based agroecosystem modelling and decision support systems for optimal irrigation and fertiliser management; and the measures, models and mitigates greenhouse gas emissions from land sources, impact of climate on agro-ecosystems, agricultural ‘big data’ and sustainable indices.
Professor Jim (Jizheng) He
Professor (Molecular Soil Ecology)
Jim He’s research employs advanced bio-molecular and physicochemical approaches to understand the distribution and diversity of microbial communities in soils, and the processes and mechanisms of microbes-mediated C, N and other elemental cycling.
Dr Tina Gao
Nutrient recovery from organic waste, food waste management, waste bioconversion technique, phosphorus use efficiency, soil nutrient cycling, soil science.
Brendon Costello’s PhD project is focused on the use of lignite to reduce ammonia emissions from intensive animal agriculture systems and limit nitrogen loss from animal waste.
Wei Zhang’s PhD is focused on the modification of lignite and black coal to mitigate ammonia loss from livestock manure.
This research aims to investigate the potential of microwaved biosolids biochar to improve the properties of dense sodic clay subsoilsProject
This project aims to optimise the on-site ammonia capture performance of modified lignite in order to reduce nitrogen loss and air pollution, by collaborating with Exergen and partners in China.Project
Coal is almost never considered a way to reduce our climate impact, but a new $7 million Cooperative Research Centres Project will seek to prove the agricultural and economic viability of using brown coal to process agricultural waste into fertiliser, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and costs to farmers.Project
Researchers explored technologies to support large-scale food waste as a soil conditioner, in the hope of being able to improve soil management as an integral part of the food chain.Project
This project assessed the effectiveness of a range of organic and inorganic ameliorants to improve crop productivity on a constrained subsoilProject
This project has developed waste management options for green waste and biosolids based on a clear understanding of productivity benefits of urban biochar application to high value production systems.Project