Agricultural Science


The University of Adelaide is home to the largest concentration of agricultural research expertise in the Southern Hemisphere. Our researchers discover and develop science solutions to major agriculture and horticultural challenges.

We use new technologies and big data to improve agricultural decision making and champion research that delivers better crops and improved farming systems.

Our knowledge and expertise enables farmers and industry to adapt to drought and climate change better; ensure sustainable improvement of crop yield and quality; and overcome problems such as salinity, soil toxicities and nutrient limitations.

We’re developing solutions to protect plants against diseases, pests and parasites, while studying how beneficial insects interact with a wide range of ecosystems including pasture crops, vegetables, fruits and vineyards.

We deliver applied outcomes that are adopted by the scientific and agriculture communities across Australia and the world. Our experts are co-located with industry and government partners at the University's Waite and Roseworthy campuses.

Associate Professor Stuart Roy

Interim Head of the Department of Agricultural Science

Research profile

Research strengths

  • Farming systems

    Expertise in farming systems

    Chris Preston holding a weed in a paddock.

    Our expertise on sustainable agricultural systems focuses on crop production and agronomy and is particularly relevant to dryland agricultural systems in Australia and overseas. Our internationally-recognised research also covers on biofortification, agroforestry and extension.

    Our experts in weed science research address integrated weed management, herbicide resistance, weed ecology and crop-weed interactions in agricultural systems.

    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus area
    Dr Peter Boutsalis Weed science and herbicide resistance
    Dr Matthew Denton Managing legumes and nitrogen fixation in farming systems
    A/Prof Gurjeet Gill Crop ecology and tillage systems; weed ecology and management
    Dr Graham Lyons Agronomic biofortification and cereal salt tolerance
    A/Prof Glenn McDonald Crop physiology and plant nutrition
    Dr Ian Nuberg International agroforestry and extension
    Prof Christopher Preston Weed ecology and management; management of herbicide resistance

    Research centres and groups

    Legumes and nitrogen fixation

    Guides and resources for legume growers

    International agroforestry and extension systems

    Research in developing countries supported by ACIAR

    SA Drought Hub

    South Australian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub

    Weed Science Research Group

    Agricultural weeds of concern to growers in Australian broad-acre farming systems

  • Plant biology, pathology and biochemistry

    Expertise in plant science

    Plant Accelerator Bettina Berger

    Our plant biology and biochemistry expertise covers a broad spectrum of plant science including plant and cell physiology, membrane transport, plant reproductive biology, plant cell wall biology and biochemistry, glycoscience and cereal chemistry.

    Our pathology research addresses the biology, ecology, epidemiology and plant responses to attack and provides foundations for diagnosis, control and management of plant diseases, pests and parasites. We focus mainly on viticulture, broad-acre and horticultural systems, but also consider native vegetation and post-harvest damage to stored products.

    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus area
    Prof Amanda Able Plant-pathogen interactions; Post-harvest physiology
    Dr Bettina Berger Plant phenomics, salinity tolerance
    Dr Natalie Betts Cereal grain physiology and molecular biology
    Dr Jay Bose Biophysics of plant membrane transport and signalling
    Dr Jerome Buhl Insect collective behaviour; locust management; complex systems modelling
    Prof Vincent Bulone Plant and fungal cell wall carbohydrate structure and biosynthesis
    Prof Rachel Burton Plant cell walls, grains for health, biofuels
    Dr Bryan Coad Biomimetic materials for understanding plant-pathogen interactions
    Dr Helen Collins Cereal grain physiology and biochemistry
    A/Prof Christopher Ford Organic acid metabolism
    Prof Matthew Gilliham Transport and signalling; nutrition and stress tolerance (salinity)
    Prof Maria Hrmova Structural biology and biochemistry
    E/Prof Michael Keller Insect behaviour; integrated pest management; biosecurity
    Dr Kelvin Khoo Plant resistance against parasitic nematodes
    Dr Sunita Ramesh Molecular biology of membrane transport and signalling
    E/Prof Eileen Scott Fungal and bacterial plant pathology
    Dr Megan Shelden Root biology, abiotic stress tolerance
    A/Prof Matthew Tucker Cereal reproductive biology
    Prof Stephen Tyerman Plant physiology, solute and water transport, signaling
    Dr M Obayed Ullah Protein biochemistry and structural biology
    Dr Stefanie Wege Nutrient and anion transport, plant physiology and molecular biology
    Dr Maryam Yazdani Biological control of insect pests
    Prof Dabing Zhang Cereal reproductive biology

    Research centres and groups

    Australian Plant Phenomics Facility & The Plant Accelerator®

    Automated high-throughput plant phenotyping system providing a range of imaging technologies (RGB, fluorescence, infrared and hyperspectral) to facilitate innovative high-quality research into plant performance in different environments

    University of Adelaide - Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Laboratory for Plant Science and Breeding

    Reproductive development and breeding innovation in rice (Oryza sativa) and barley (Hordeum vulgare).

    Adelaide Glycomics

    Complex carbohydrate analysis

    Membrane Transporter Expression Facility

    Enables expression of genes in a cell system that can be robotically screened for various membrane transport activities.

  • Plant breeding innovation

    Growing our future

    Stuart Roy plant accelerator

    Our scientists analyse the genetic and epigenetic control of economically important plant traits such as abiotic stress, biotic stress, productivity and end-use quality. This helps us understand the causes of observed variation in plants so we can develop tools and technologies for crop improvement.

    We develop improved germplasm, breeding methods and breeding technologies, plus develop new varieties of durum wheat, faba bean, almond and ornamental eucalypts.

    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus areas
    Prof Jason Able Plant breeding, cereal epigenetics, barley quality, frost tolerance in cereals, industry relationships
    Prof Rachel Burton Plant cell walls, grains for health, biofuels
    A/Prof Kenneth Chalmers Molecular genetics for cereal breeding
    Dr Kate Delaporte Ornamental eucalypt breeding
    Dr Ian Dundas Alien introgression, cereal cytogenetics and chromosome engineering
    E/Prof Diane Mather Molecular genetics for plant breeding
    Dr Melissa Garcia Faba bean breeding
    A/Prof Stuart Roy Salinity tolerance in crops
    Dr Ryan Whitford Reproductive biology and genome editing
    Dr Michelle Wirthensohn Almond breeding
    Prof Dabing Zhang Cereal reproductive biology

    Research centres and groups

    Australia-China Joint Research Centre on Grains for Health

    Advancing research, knowledge and training in grain biology, variety development, innovative processing, health and nutritional sciences, behavioural economics.

    Australian Plant Breeding Academy

    A strategic partnership between the University of Adelaide and Australian Grain Technologies to lift the capability of the agrifood sector across Australia and maximises future profits for growers, through new education and breeding research.

    Australian Wheat & Barley Molecular Marker Program

    Mapping genes that contribute to the economically important traits - such as biotic stress traits - in cereals and the development of reliable markers for use in cereal breeding and germplasm development.

    Cereal Cytogenetics Laboratory

    An extensive collection of germplasm stocks of cereal varieties, including wheat-barley chromosome addition lines, and chromosome addition, substitution, translocation and recombinant lines.

    University of Adelaide - Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Laboratory for Plant Science and Breeding

    Research into reproductive development and breeding innovation in rice (Oryza sativa) and barley (Hordeum vulgare).

  • Soil science

    Advances in science from the ground, up

    Fertiliser Technology Research Centre lab

    Our researchers combine scientific expertise in:

    • soil chemistry – fertilisers, contaminants and soil carbon;
    • soil physics – structure and water availability; and 
    • soil biology – nutrient cycling, roots and rhizosphere, mycorrhizae.

    We conduct research that improves understanding of soil processes and functions, leading to improved methods for soil management which is critical for sustainability of agricultural and natural ecosystems.

    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus area
    Dr Ivan Andelkovic  Environmental remediation, analytical chemistry
    Prof Timothy Cavagnaro Soil ecology; environmental and agricultural sustainability
    Dr Rodrigo Coqui da Silva Soil fertility, fertilisers and plant nutrition
    Dr Fien Degryse Soil chemistry and plant nutrition
    Dr Ashlea Doolette Soil chemistry
    Dr Marijana Markovic Soil ecotoxicology
    Prof Petra Marschner Nutrient cycling
    Prof Michael McLaughlin Environmental chemistry and toxicology; fertilisers and plant nutrition
    A/Prof Luke Mosley Soil and water geochemistry; acid sulfate soils
    Dr Divina Navarro Soil and environmental chemistry

    Research groups and centres

    Fertiliser Technology Research Centre

    Novel research that's improving the quality and efficiency of fertilisers. Our scientists are international experts in soil chemistry, fertiliser technology and plant nutrition.

    Soil ecology research group

    Exploring the impact of environmental change and management on soil ecological processes.

    Graphene Hub

    Leading knowledge, research and development capabilities and critical services to assist industry commercialise graphene research.

  • Entomology and pollination

    What's the buzz?

    Blue-banded bee

    Our research in entomology and pollination addresses the biology, behaviour, ecology of insects. We study insects that occur in a wide range of ecosystems, including pasture crops, vegetables, fruits, vineyards, greenhouse crops and natural ecosystems.

    Key areas of interest are biological control of insects and weeds, integrated pest management, biosecurity, crop pollination and conservation and enhancement of ecosystem services delivered by insects. Our research considers beneficial parasitic wasps, predatory arthropods, crop pollinators and a wide range of pest organisms.

    Lead researchers

    Researcher Focus area
    Dr Jerome Buhl Insect collective behaviour; locust management; complex systems modelling
    Dr Katja Hogendoorn Behavioural ecology and evolution of native bees
    E/Prof Michael Keller Insect behaviour; integrated pest management; biosecurity
    Dr Maryam Yazdani Biological control of insect pests
  • Biometry and statistics

    Biometry Hub and SAGI-STH logos

    Biometry Hub

    In the era of data-rich agriculture, biometry research involves methodological statistics development and the use of modern scientific computing methods for the design and analysis of research studies and experiments conducted in the life sciences.

    The University of Adelaide Biometry Hub specialises in statistical methodologies for field trials, comparative and multi-factorial experiments and field sampling in application to agriculture, horticulture, oenology and food sciences.

    Biometry Hub

  • Crop bioinformatics

    Big data decision-making

    Wheat trials

    Technological and data driven approaches have become the cornerstone of modern biology. Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary science with the focus on developing and applying computationally intensive methods to solve formal and practical problems arising from the management and analysis of biological ‘big data’.

    Specialising in agricultural crop bioinformatics, our team provides expertise across the intersection of molecular biology, plant breading, genetics, biochemistry, computer science, mathematics and statistics.

    Crop Bioinformatics Adelaide (CroBiAd)

Waite Research Institute

The Waite Research Institute drives innovation to secure a sustainable future for Agriculture - by creating high-quality, nutritious and climate-resilient products. We do this through close partnerships with the agriculture, food and wine sectors.

Waite Research Institute

Agriculture news



Food (science), glorious food (science)

Episode 3, In Their Element Podcast Meet Millie Shinkfield, her food and nutrition science studies gave her the appetite to pursue a career with one of Adelaide's largest food producers.