Skip to content

Theme 1: Integrated Soil Systems

The Integrated Soil Systems research program has a focus on soils as living systems that form the basis of both agricultural and environmental systems. 

The program uses fundamental investigation to interpret and assist full system level function, meaning that research conducted as the sub-micro scale is made relevant to landscape catchment function and management. Working with the other Centre for Sustainable Agricultural System research program teams, the Integrated Soil Systems RPT delivers management solutions limiting risk, and with a focus on optimising the full system, rather than system components. Considering soil as one of Australia’s greatest natural assets, the aim of the research program is to deliver outputs that provide both production and ecosystem outcomes from the same parcel of land, leading to sustainable and profitable outcomes. Within the Integrated Soil Systems research program there are a number core sub-programs, including:

  • Soil security for Australia
  • Soil structure and solute interactions
  • Conservation agriculture
  • Strategic soil constraint management
  • Land management and rehabilitation


Project Leader: Afshin Ghahramani

Research Partner: Soil CRC, Southern Cross UniversityNSW Department of Primary Industries | Farmer groups across northern and southern region

Recently, cover crops are shown to be an effective to improve ground cover, increase water availability, and the yields of subsequent crops. Cover crop residues can enhance activities of soil microbial communities, respiration, and N mineralization. Hence, it is very important to investigate how managing cover crops can influence the soil biology in terms of soil biota and function, soil biological processes and their impacts on soil water holding capacity and the farm production. The significant advances that could be achievable in this research topic are to identify sub-soil profile characteristics during the fallow phase under cover crops and weeds management with respect to weather, biomass production and impact on soil moisture profiles in association with soil textural characteristics. This research will use experimental results of cover crop projects and will conduct field trials, modelling, and implication of artificial intelligence that will develop methodologies to predict sub-soil moisture across profile. 

Project Leader: Afshin Ghahramani

Research Partner: CSIRO, NQ Dry Tropics, Great Barrier Reef Foundation

The main objective of this study is to collect measured data that will support the anecdotal evidence that regenerative grazing practices lead to improved landscape function, runoff and water quality. Demonstrated benefits, established via sound scientific methods, will be beneficial to the land-owners, investors (LRF and Reef Credits) and the Banking sector. [Note that the specific metrics to be collected will be finalised after the initial literature review, however, the likely candidates are variables such as soil type and stability, carbon and organic matter content, litter, pasture cover and biomass, bulk density, soil nutrients such as N, P and C etc and well as runoff and water quality, TSS, TN where possible].