Centre for Sustainable Farming Systems
Centre Director: Professor Daniel Murphy
Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia
The centre’s core research areas
The scientists and academics at the Centre for Sustainable Farming Systems have outstanding capabilities and track records in increasing the profitability, resilience and sustainability of farming enterprises.
Nitrogen and carbon fixation
Our research focuses on understanding nitrogen and carbon transformations in soil and delivering maximised and stabilised nitrogen-fixation by soil bacteria.
We also undertake legume breeding and selection to optimise farming systems, delivering improved seed ecology, perenniality and rooting depth.
Complementarities between production enterprises
We focus on managing grain protein and quality through manipulating organic and fertiliser sources of nitrogen.
Our research also examines integrated weed management, maximise production farming systems based on water use, and minimising biotic threats to production through systems integration.
Building robust land use options
We have a strong focus on developing farming enterprises to suit environmental constraints and conservation agriculture and soil fertility, including rehabilitation of poor or damaged soils.
We also investigate precision and remote data collection technologies and advanced agricultural chemistry.
Consumers, markets, politics and education
We undertake research that assesses consumer concerns, markets and attitudes to different systems of agricultural production, for example. organic versus industrial; rainfed versus irrigated; live export versus manufactured meat.
We also evaluate the environmental consequences of different land uses in the agricultural space.
Professor Daniel Murphy
Professor Murphy is an expert in soil-plant-microbial interactions (rhizosphere engineering). He leads major research programs on the development of sustainable management practices for agricultural farming systems. This includes quantifying soil organic carbon, improving nutrient and water use efficiency, regenerating soil function in degraded agricultural land and monitoring soil quality.
Professor John Howieson
Professor John Howieson is an internationally recognised expert in sustainable agriculture, specialising in the nitrogen fixation of legume crops.
He has led the discovery program for new pasture and forage legumes in Australian agriculture and is currently on the steering committee to put nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa.
Dr Jason TerpolilliDr Terpolilli joined Murdoch University in 2012 and is a Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Microbiology. His research on nitrogen fixation in legumes and their associated bacteria (termed rhizobia) is targeted at understanding the genetics and biochemistry of these symbioses.
He also works on tracking the evolution of suboptimally effective rhizobia in Australian farming systems and in developing strategies to minimise and manage their emergence.
Professor Richard Harper
Professor Harper has a PhD in Soil Sciences, spending over 20 years with the Western Australian Government and Industry working on science and policies to reduce the effects of both increasing soil salinity and climate change in plantations, farms and forests.
Richard has received accolades including being a member of the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (2015-2016) and is President of the Australian Council of Agricultural Deans
Mr Harrison is an expert in the field of pasture legumes and farming systems, in particular hard seed ecology and applied rhizobiology.
His work on dry land pasture legume systems has seen his involvement in legume breeding, hard seed ecology and farming systems for low-medium rainfall areas of southern Australia. The National Fixation Program (NFP), another national project focuses on increasing sustainable nitrogen fixation from pulse legumes by developing elite rhizobia strains.