GRDC Acid Soils PhD Scholarship

Applications open
Open now
Applications close
11 October 2019
Payment per year
3 years
Postgraduate Research
Australian Citizens
Australian Permanent Residents
Type of Scholarship
Available In
Faculty of Sciences
Available To

Amelioration strategies for acid soils in cropping systems of South Australia

Soil acidity is a major constraint to crop production in Australia. Low soil pH results in the formation of toxic forms of aluminium and manganese, which can reduce root growth and yield. Soil acidification is likely to become more severe in the future due to increased crop productivity, expansion of pulses and use of nitrogen fertilisers. Currently, about 2.0 M ha of cropping land in South Australia has surface soil acidity (0‐10 cm < pH 5.5) or is considered acid prone. This area is expected to double over the next 40 years if remedial action, such as the application of lime, is not taken. Lime is relatively insoluble and moves very slowly in undisturbed soils. New methods to increase the effectiveness of lime amendments to ameliorate acid soils in cropping paddocks are needed.

This scholarship will support a full time PhD student to be part of a GRDC-funded project “New knowledge and practices to address top- and sub-soil acidity under minimum tillage cropping systems of South Australia” (led by Brian Hughes at PIRSA).

The project will be tailored to the interests of a highly motivated student and will focus on one or more of the following research topics: 

  • Assessment of different lime sources, movement and rates on soil pH and crop growth
  • Influence of additional amendments on the neutralising value of lime
  • Novel methods to increase the effectiveness of lime applications
  • Near-infrared (NIR) testing of lime and soil buffering capacity and analysis of crop responses to variation in soil pH using spectral sensors.

Potential supervisors are:

Dr Rhiannon Schilling -
Assoc. Prof. Luke Mosley -
Prof. Petra Marschner -  

This position is available for an immediate start and will be based at the Waite campus in the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine at The University of Adelaide and suits a student with interests in soil and plant science and who is willing to work with government and industry to address a major agricultural issue. The student should have completed Honours or higher research in chemistry, soil, environmental, or agricultural science.

Applications must be received by no later than 5 pm on the 11 October 2019.

Eligibility: Applicants must be Australian Citizens or permanent residents of Australia who are acceptable as candidates for a PhD degree at The University of Adelaide.

Stipend:  The scholarship will be for three years and has a stipend of $36,000 (per annum). It is likely to be tax exempt, subject to Taxation Office approval.

An additional $10,000 per annum operating and $5,000 travel is available.

Enquiries: Dr Rhiannon Schilling, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, Tel (08) 8313 7398, Email  

Applying: To apply for this opportunity, you need to apply for Admission Only using the University of Adelaide’s online application form ( 

Within the online application form you may be presented with 3 types of applications to select from. Please select “Admission Only”.


Research Interests:  At the beginning of this field, type in capitals GRDC ACID SOILS PhD SCHOLARSHIP, followed by a brief statement of your research interests.

Once complete, please email a summary of your application for Admission to Dr Rhiannon Schilling, ( and Ms Andrea Przygonski ( with “Application for GRDC Acid Soils PhD Scholarship” in the subject heading.