Soil science team joins Murdoch to tackle food security and climate change

Professor Murphy, Associate Professor Hoyle and Chris Gazey from Dept of Agriculture and Food WA

New team brings deep expertise in soil management at a critical time as we address local and international challenges in food security and climate change.

Murdoch today welcomes Professor Daniel Murphy, Professor David Jones, Professor Rob Griffiths and Associate Professor Frances Hoyle and their team to the Food Futures Institute.

The appointments strengthen the university’s leading position in agricultural sciences with a wealth of experience in food production, climate variation and adaptation, and environment and natural resource science.

“It’s terrific to have this group of world-leading scientists join the university as we continue to build on our research strengths across food, health and the environment,” said Professor Peter Davies, Pro Vice Chancellor of the Food Futures Institute.

“Intensification of agriculture over the past 50 years has increased food production, but urban expansion, erosion, nutrient run-off, salinity, biodiversity loss and climate change are posing enormous challenges. This team will help us contribute solutions to some of these challenges.” 

Professor Daniel Murphy and Associate Professor Frances Hoyle bring well-established industry connections, having established SoilsWest, an alliance between universities and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development that brings industry, government and academia together for the discovery and development of soil research.

Professor Murphy will be director of the Centre for Sustainable Farming Systems as he continues his major research programs addressing issues relating to the development of sustainable management practices for agriculture, horticulture and mine sites under rehabilitation.

“I’m really excited to be coming across to help consolidate agricultural research in Western Australia and, importantly, translational research,” said Professor Murphy.

“We’ve got some really exciting prospective work on improving nutrient and water use efficiency, regenerating soil function in farming systems and growing bioplastics as an area of research focus, which all present terrific opportunities for farmers here and throughout Asia and Africa operating in similar environments.” 

This work will be undertaken alongside Associate Professor Hoyle, Director of SoilsWest, who has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by WA farmers in managing low fertility, largely rainfed, crop production systems and the management of soil organic carbon.

Professor David Jones joins on a 50% fractional appointment as a Highly Cited Researcher whose current work spans controlling viral pathogens – including COVID-19 – in agricultural, freshwater and marine ecosystems, promoting carbon sequestration in agricultural systems and improve nutrient use efficiency in cropping systems.

Professor Griffiths is also a Highly Cited Researcher with a focus on microbial diversity in natural environments. Professor Griffiths has been widely published for improving our understanding of the drivers of microbial biodiversity and determining how biodiversity change relates to change in ecosystem functioning. He will also take up a fractional appointment. 

Murdoch University’s agricultural and environmental research is recognised internationally, working at the cutting edge of science and in successful collaborations with industry and governments to ensure future food production systems are both profitable and sustainable. 

This team will continue to improve connections from the laboratory to the farm gate by delivering answers to the pressing questions that farmers have."
Professor Peter Davies

The team will officially begin their roles at Murdoch on July 1, 2021.

This research supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, 13 and 15.

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Posted on:

25 May 2021



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