Unlock Soil Nutrients

Unlocking Soil Nutrients with Organic Matter

Project Funder: Soil CRC

Project Lead Organisation/Researcher: The University of Newcastle, Dr Balaji Seshadri

Project Duration: March 2021 – March 2024


The aim of this project is to examine the value of innovative organic amendments (manures, composts, biosolids) in unlocking nutrient reserves and increasing Nutrient Use Efficient (NUE) in a range of soil types and cropping systems. These organic wastes can be major source of nutrients that primarily include carbon (C), Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P). It aims to explore how organic amendments can unlock tightly bound soil nutrients, enhancing NUE. The project will also establish innovative approaches to apply organic amendments in agricultural soils and examine ways to make the nutrients available for plants through moisture retention and nutrient mobilisation. 

Description and background

Enhancing NUE in agricultural soils is challenging due to diminishing natural resources such as phosphate rock and water availability. The use of organic wastes as soil amendments can potentially reduce the dependence on naturally available materials.

Maintaining and enhancing soil fertility are key issues for sustainability in an agricultural system with organic or low input methods. This project will study the effect of organic amendments on nutrient release in selected soil and cropping systems under different soil management practices.

The project will focus on the most common, large-scale nutrient-rich organic wastes that include poultry/pig manures, dairy-farm wastes, composts, biosolids, etc. The research will involve 4 research components in collaboration with farmers/end users, government bodies, research providers and industry partners:

RC1: Characterisation of the chemical form of nutrients and contaminants in organic wastes and soils.

RC2: Development of innovative approaches for modulation of nutrient release in organic waste-amended soils.

RC3: Characterisation of treated soils and plant availability of soil nutrients across agro-ecological systems.

RC4: Agronomic evaluation of organic fertilizer products under various agro-ecosystems.

Reports & Media Releases