Earthworms and soil physical quality

Summary

Earthworms are called soil ecosystem engineers, as they affect the soil physical properties such as soil structure through their feeding, burrowing and casting activities. While the biological properties of vermicasts have been studied extensively, there is still a knowledge gap of their physical properties. Similarly, while it is well known that vermicomposting can stabilise organic material in the soil by the joint action of earthworms and soil microorganisms, there is still a gap in the mechanism of the process. This project will investigate the role of earthworms and vermicomposting on the physical properties of the soil

Supervisor(s)

Professor Budiman Minasny

Research Location

Sydney Institute of Agriculture

Program Type

PHD

Synopsis

Earthworms are known to have positive effect on soil physical quality such as promoting aggregation  and soil organic matter protection.  The project will look at the effect of earthworm and vermicast on the physical quality of the soil. It will compare the process of vermicomposting and composting for the physical stabilization of soil carbon. The physical quality will include water retention, hydraulic conductivity and soil aggregation. Finally a mechanism for these physical effects will be investigated.  This project involves a considerable amount of field, and laboratory work. The student will acquire valuable knowledge and skills in the areas of soil modelling. The student will also be expected to further develop skills in modern statistical and spatial data analysis and scientific publication.

Additional Information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Keywords

Soil carbon, soil quality

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1706

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