PhD Opportunity - Herbicide Dynamics and Bioavailability in Soil

Clayton, Australia
$26,288 per annum
28 Sep 2016
End of advertisement period
24 Oct 2016
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


Faculty of Science


Clayton campus


$26,288 per annum (tax-free stipend)


Three years, full-time

Applicants with a first class Honours degree, Masters or equivalent are invited to apply for a PhD Research Project with Monash University (School of Chemistry) and NSW – Department of Primary Industry (Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute).

The Opportunity

Herbicides are an important tool for weed control in Australian agriculture. Recent improvements in minimum-tillage practices, combined with the adoption of herbicide-tolerant crop cultivars, means that herbicide use continues to increase. Although most herbicides are designed to breakdown over time to prevent residues in soil accumulating and impacting on rotation crops, a recent survey of soils in Australia found that some herbicides are persisting for longer than expected.

Little is known about the bioavailability of these herbicide residues and the subsequent impact to soil organisms and subsequent crops. Herbicide bio-availability is affected by a number of physio-chemical processes, especially the sorption-desorption of herbicides to and from soil minerals and soil organic matter. Farmers desperately require more information on the dynamics and bioavailability of a number of herbicides in different soil types, so that they can make more informed decisions on crop management and ensure that their soils remain productive.

This project will seek to better understand these processes by:

  • determining the effect of aging of residues in soil on herbicide sorption-desorption and degradation processes
  • determining the impacts of soil properties (especially soil pH, organic matter and soil texture) on sorption-desorption and degradation processes
  • quantifying the bio-availability of aged herbicide residues in soil to soil microorganisms and model crop plants
  • assessing the influence of farm management practices (e.g. fertilisation) and weather (e.g. temperature, moisture availability) on herbicide residue bioavailability, with reference to the processes described above

This PhD research project will complement a national project (DAN00180) co-funded by the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation and NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The project will contain both field and laboratory research aspects and part of the time will be spent in Wollongbar.

You will gain experience in the use of advanced analytical techniques in soil chemistry and biology (e.g. liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, molecular biology) and gain experience in the development and application of mathematical and chemical models to solve a pressing contemporary issue of environmental and economic significance. Opportunities to interact with farmers and government agencies will be provided in this project.

The project will be supervised by Professor Bart Follink and Associate Professor Tony Patti (Monash University, School of Chemistry) and Dr Lukas van Zweiten and Dr Michael Rose, NSW DPI (Wollongbar).


Associate Professor, Tony Patti, + 61 03 9905 1620


To submit an application, please email the following documents to as a PDF attachment.

  • Covering letter
  • CV
  • Academic Record

Closing date

Monday 24 October 2016, 5pm ADST