Agriculture and Horticulture

Overview of the Research Area

Plant Health and Biosecurity

Research in this area focuses on the economically important insects, pathogens and weeds and the ecology of the organisms and biological and chemical controls.

Our interests focus on non-chemical means of controlling pest organisms and the development of integrated pest and disease management systems. Our work is closely associated with agrihorticultural industries, both nationally (state departments of agriculture) and internationally. Our work includes pure research related to the biology, taxonomy (plant, fungal and insect) and ecology of pest organisms and beneficial species such as natural enemies and bees and applied research developing management strategies. We also undertake research into natural environments and the development of naturally-derived products as environmentally-friendly pesticides. The group has extensive international experience and has led projects in Indonesia, Viet Nam, China and Bhutan. Current research is mostly associated with citrus, olives and cotton. We have extensive facilities for the study of entomology and plant pathology, both in the laboratory and in the field.


Postharvest is an inter-disciplinary area fundamental aspects of produce biology and physiology, modifications to the postharvest environment to extend the storage life of produce, and aspects of the postharvest industry such as quality management and exporting.
Recent research in postharvest has focussed on the growth, maturation and physiology of fresh produce; the importance of managing temperature and the responses of fresh produce to changes in temperature; the role of ethylene in fruit ripening and senescence; and the practical issues of assessing harvest maturity.

Water, Environment and Sustainability

  • Groundwater modelling and management.
  • Peri-uban hydrology and sustainable food production in peri-urban landscapes
  • Irrigation management

Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development

Crop Physiology and Biotechnology

Food Security

Currently Samsul Huda has two research projects on the food security funded by Qatar National Research Fund. Qatar has limited agricultural resources, so food security is a problem if the country cannot rely on assured food imports. Strategies to overcome this problem include land purchase and contract farming in more resource-rich countries including Australia, and in improved productivity of selected crops in Qatar including high tech greenhouse facilities. Both strategies require improved decision-making with respect to crop choice, agronomic and water management, and soil and natural resource management to maximise crop productivity and avoid soil degradation and desertification.

  • Improving Food Security in Qatar: Assessing Alternative Cropping Systems Feasibility and Productivity in Variable Climates, Soil and Marketing Environments
  • Safeguarding Food and Environment in Qatar (SAFE-Q)



Prof Andrew Beattie 
(02) 4570 1287,

A/Prof Robert Spooner-Hart
(02) 4570 1429,

A/Prof Paul Holford
(02) 4570 1943,

Dr Tony Haigh
(02) 4570 1254,

Dr Zhonghua Chen
(02) 45701934,

Associate Professor Samsul Huda
(02) 45701390,

A/Prof Paul Holford
(02) 4570 1943,

Professor Basant Maheshwari
Research Expertise and Interests: Water, Environment and Sustainability, particularly focussing on transdisciplinary approach to managing water resources for livelihood improvement; also have deep interest and current research in balanced urban development with an emphasis on managing peri-urban areas for liveable cities.
+61 2 4570 1235,

Potential Supervisors

To find a prospective HDR supervisor, please visit our Potential Supervisors page.

Current Research Candidates and Topics

Current Research Candidates and Topics

Namgay Om
The role of Diaphorina communis Mathur [Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Liviidae] as a vector of 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' [α-Proteobacteria] in Bhutan

Phuong Thi Sa
Impacts of Foliar N on the Biological Control of Black Scale (Saissetia oleae (Olivier))

Jenny Shanks
Tetragonula carbonara and disease: behavioural and antimicrobial defences used by colonies to limit brood pathogens

Michelle Mak
Electrophysiological and molecular identification of novel biopesticides

John Lopresti
Modelling inter-fruit variability in sugar concentration within a tree

Alison Murphy
Analysis of headspace volatiles in Hass avocado fruit to develop a sensor label specific to the ripening

Muhit Rahman
Risk Based Approach to Determine Treatment Required for Using Recycled Water for Irrigation

Upeka Kuruppu
Water Quality Balance Analysis and Modeling in the Nepean River Downstream of Warragamba Reservoir

Preslav Trenchev
Water Conservation and Management Strategies for Establishing Commercial Sustainable Agroforestry Nut Farms in the Sydney Basin

Seema Dave
The Role of Water in Well-Being of Village Communities in Gujarat and Rajasthan, India-Developing a Methodology for its Assessment and Application in the Rural Development

Sai Kiran
Use of Wetland for both Stormwater Management and Local Community's Place of Recreation

Titih Danielaini
Sustainable Urban Water Management in the Downstream Areas of Cimanuk River Basin, West Java Province, Indonesia

Neill Inall (PhD)
John Kerin's Legacy in Australian Agriculture 

Alison Roswell (PhD)
Application of Life Cycle Assessment in the Australian Agri-food Sector

Grace Chideya-Phiri (PhD)
Economic Analysis of Inorganic Fertilisers Availability and Profitability in Combination with Organic 

Lihua Li (PhD).
Principal Supervisor Rural Household Livelihood Analysis in Western China

Joshua Philp (PhD)
Improving Small Ruminant Productivity in Western China Through the Manipulation of Diet Digestibility and Feed Use Efficiency.

Mohammad Babla (PhD)
A Physiological and Molecular Insight into the Benefit of Light-diffusing Glass on Growth and Yield in Tomato in a High-tech Greenhouse

Rohan Riley (PhD)
Plant and Fungal Traits Interact to Control Mycorrhizal Outcomes in a Multifunctional Context 

Mohammad Babla (PhD)
Principal Supervisor A Physiological and Molecular Insight into the Benefit of Light-diffusing Glass on Growth and Yield in Tomato in a High-tech Greenhouse

Chenchen Zhao (PhD)
Principal Supervisor Molecular and Physiological Insight into the Role of Chloroplat Retrograde Signalling in Stomatal Guard Cells

Michelle Mak (PhD)
Electrophysiological and molecular identification of novel biopesticides

Contact Person

For more information about the research area, please contact Dr Zhonghua Chen via email or phone (02) 45701934.