The Role of Potassium Leaching in Crop Nutrition

Negative potassium (K) balances (National Land and Water Resources Audit, 2001), and increasing prevalence of soil tests with low sub-soil K indicates that grain cropping is depleting soil K in the Western Grains region. In addition, the amounts of K lost by leaching are poorly understood. Soil, weather and crop factors may determine leaching losses but their relative importance is not understood.


The aim of the PhD project is to determine K amounts of K leached in WA soils and its effect on K nutrition of wheat and canola in different soil types and climatic zones. This will be completed by glasshouse and field experiments. Rubidium will be used as a non-radioactive analogue of K to quantify K leaching under controlled conditions and in the field. The improved mechanistic understanding of K leaching will be used to improve the APSIM-K simulation model.

The PhD programme will include field experiments, co-located with experiments set up for the UWA-led GRDC Project, “Increasing profit from N, P and K fertilizer inputs into the evolving cropping sequences in the Western Region”. The PhD scholar will not only gain field research experience on crop nutrition but also develop expertise in managing field experiments under the guidance of experienced DPIRD Research and Technical staff. The PhD scholar will have the opportunity to work with researchers from the private sector, CSBP and Summit, who will conduct field K nutrition experiments under the same GRDC Project.

Funding bodyMurdoch University
Study levelPhD
Value$32000 per annum
Duration and start date1 January 2019 for 3.5 years (with a possible 6 month extension).
Application criteriaSelection criteria
  • Applicants should already hold an honours degree (First class or 2B) or master’s degree in soil science, crop science or a related field and be an Australian citizen, an Australian resident or a New Zealand citizen.
  • Applicants should submit a detailed cv, a copy of their academic transcript and a one page proposal related to the topic of the scholarship.
Apply byUntil awarded
To apply1. Complete the application form for domestic and include “The Role of Potassium Leaching in Crop Nutrition” under the Scholarship section
2. Fill in the referee report for domestic.
ContactPlease email Professor Richard Bell or call him on 0405131429 for more information.