Professor Susanne Schmidt

Professor

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Faculty of Science
susanne.schmidt@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 51050

Overview

Susanne leads a vibrant team researching natural ecosystems and agroecosystems focussed on plants, microbes and soil. This aims to advance the circular nutrient economy, the restoration of degraded soils and landscapes, and the sustainable use of Australia's flora.

Funded PhD and MPhil positions are available in the (i) Bushfood project and the (ii) Next-generation fertilisers project and soil ameliorants project. Honours and Masters projects are available in all active projects. Please register your interest emailing Susanne.Schmidt@uq.edu.au

Active projects:

  • A Deadly Solution: Combining Traditional Knowledge and Western Science for an Indigenous-led Bushfood Industry (ARC Discovery-Indigenous)
  • Realising Smart Compost Formulations (Fight Food Waste CRC)
  • Next-generation fertilisers and soil ameliorants (ARC Industry Transformation Training Centre 'Transforming Biosolids')
  • Boosting the natural regeneration of the nitrogen capital in grazing lands (Meat & Livestock Australia)
  • Validating novel phosphorus formulations augmented with beneficial microbes (Innovation Connections Partnership, EcoGrowth)
  • The integrated bio-economy project and the controlled biosphere (ARC Linkages)
  • Ultrahigh-resolution remote sensing for assessing biodiversity hotspots (ARC Discovery)

Completed projects

  • Environmentally responsive bio-composite fertilisers
  • Ecofriendly fertilisers for sustainable farming
  • Effective microbial biostimulants in horticulture
  • New technologies and management: transforming nitrogen use efficiency in cane production
  • Recycled phosphorus from waste streams as efficient sources for agriculture
  • License to farm - nitrogen use efficiency in sugarcane production
  • Developing sugarcane-legume companion cropping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Spinifex desert grass - ecophysiology and nano-cellulose production for novel biomaterials
  • The role of soil microbes to restore soil carbon in tropical reforestation
  • Soil carbon sequestration in the Cooloola Biosphere chronosequence
  • Advancing Livestock Waste as Low Emission-High Efficiency Fertilizers
  • Ecogenomic profiling of Queensland sugarcane soils

Research Interests

  • Nutrient stewardship and the circular nutrient economy
    Next-generation fertilisers, organic nutrients, re-purposing waste streams, compost, biochar, matching crop demand and nutrient release, assessing contaminant risk, interdisciplinary research, sustainable agriculture, industry partnerships, organic and regenerative farming
  • Soil health and carbon sequestration
    Soil metabolism, microbial communities, plant-beneficial microbes, soil organic matter, compost, biochar, rhizosphere processes, quantifying fluxes in soil with innovative tools (microdialysis, other)
  • Responsible use of Australia's plants and landscapes
    Bioproduction and conservation outcomes, Australian native plants, protecting biodiversity, ecosystem restoration, greenhouse gas fluxes, climate change mitigation
  • Indigenous-led industries and natural assets markets
    Carbon credits, biodiversity credits, bushfire management with cultural burning, bushfood, native plant horticulture, socio-cultural benefits, economic advancement

Research Impacts

Re-purposing nutrient-rich wastes enable the circular economy. Benefits are safe and autonomous fertiliser supply chains, lower costs for farmers, improved environmental outcomes, and new industries and jobs.

Re-carbonising soils and improving nutrient use and fertiliser efficiencies mitigate climate change and boost agricultural efficiency. Reducing greenhouse footprints by storing carbon in soils also benefits degraded soils and boosts agricultural production.

Advancing the Indigenous economy by enabling the sophisticated Knowledge of Australia's First Nations people to be implemented by the Traditional Owners has many benefits: safeguarding landscapes from wildfires, developing environmental markets for carbon and biodiversity protection, and harnessing the food potential of Australia's native flora.

Qualifications

  • Master of Science, Universität Hohenheim
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland

Publications

View all Publications

Grants

View all Grants

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • We can mitigate climate change and restore degraded soils by replenishing carbon in agricultural soils through re-purposing carbon- and nutrient-rich organic wastes. This transdisciplinary project has plant and soil scientists working alongside waste engineers, government and industry partners in the Industry Transformation Training Centre for Biosolids (www.transformingbiosolids.org.au). Candidates interested in researching biosolids - digested, heated or pyrolysed will identify safe and efficient ways for rebuilding soil carbon stores and delivering nutrients to plants.

  • Cattle grazing of northern Australia's savannas has to support the industry's goal of carbon neutrality. Our project quantifies the benefits of biocrusts, the living cover of soil that consists of rich microbial communities that fix carbon and nitrogen, enhance soil fertility and prevent erosion. Spanning from molecular profiling of the smallest of organisms to remote sensing via satellite to track change over time, we address questions such as "What organisms live in biocrusts and what do they do? What management practices (grazing, fire) ensure landscape integrity and profitability?

  • Rare species in the Myrtaceae family occupy Queensland’s world-heritage listed Gondwanan rainforest. Many of these species are on the brink of extinction as myrtle rust is killing vulnerable species that are weakened by changing weather patterns. The protection status of the forest prevents the use of fungicides and alternatives are urgently sought. Since many of these plants naturally accumulate heavy metals, an intriguing idea is if these metals can fend off myrtle rust. Our interdisciplinary team of experts in plant pathology, ecophysiology, rare plant ecology and propagation will support students carrying out field and laboratory research to test the interactions between heavy metal accumulation and tolerance to myrtle rust. A scoping project at Honours level is available.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Singh, Vijaya, Chauhan, Yashvir, Dalal, Ram and Schmidt, Susanne (2020). Chickpea. The Beans and the Peas: From Orphan to Mainstream Crops. (pp. 173-215) Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-821450-3.00003-2

  • Schmidt, Susanne (2015). Foreword. Ecological Biochemistry: Environmental and Interspecies Interactions. (pp. XXI-XXI) Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH. doi: 10.1002/9783527686063.fmatter

  • Erisman, Jan Willem, Leach, Allison, Adams, Mark, Agboola, Julius I., Ahmetaj, Luan, Alard, Didier, Austin, Amy, Awodun, Moses A., Bareham, Simon, Bird, Theresa L., Bleeker, Albert, Bull, Keith, Cornell, Sarah E., Davidson, Eric, de Vries, Wim, Dias, Teresa, Emmett, Bridget, Goodale, Christine, Greaver, Tara, Haeuber, Rick, Harmens, Harry, Hicks, W. Kevin, Hogbom, Lars, Jarvis, Paul, Johansson, Matti, Russell, Zoe, McClean, Colin, Paton, Bill, Perez, Tibisay ... Whitfield, Clare P. (2014). Nitrogen deposition effects on ecosystem services and interactions with other pollutants and climate change. Nitrogen deposition, critical loads and biodiversity. (pp. 493-505) edited by Mark A. Sutton, Kate E. Mason, Lucy J. Sheppard, Harald Sverdrup, Richard Haeuber and W. Kevin Hicks. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer Netherlands. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-7939-6_51

  • Robinson, Nicole, Vogt, Jessica, Lakshmanan, Prakash and Schmidt, Sussane (2013). Nitrogen physiology of sugarcane. Sugarcane: Physiology, Biochemistry, and Functional Biology. (pp. 169-195) edited by Paul H. Moore and Frederik C. Botha. Oxford United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/9781118771280.ch8

  • Paungfoo-Lonhienne, Chanyarat, Schmidt, Susanne, Webb, Richard I. and Lonhienne, Thierry G. A. (2013). Rhizophagy-a new dimension of plant-microbe interactions. Molecular Microbial Ecology of the Rhizosphere. (pp. 1199-1207) edited by Frans J. de Bruijn. Hoboken, NJ United States: Wiley-Blackwell. doi: 10.1002/9781118297674.ch115

  • Ellis, J. C., Bellingham, P. J., Cameron, E. K., Croll, D. A., Kolb, G. S., Kueffer, C., Mittelhauser, G. H., Schmidt, S., Vidal, E. and Wait, D. A. (2011). Effects of seabirds on plant communities. Seabird Islands: Ecology, invasion and restoration. (pp. 177-211) edited by Christa Mulder, Wendy Anderson, David Towns and Peter Bellingham. New York, USA: Oxford Univ Press. doi: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199735693.003.0006

  • Mulder, C. P. H., Jones, H., Kameda, K., Palmborg, C., Schmidt, S., Ellis, J., Orrock, J. L., Wait, A., Wardle, D. A., Yang, L., Young, H., Croll, D. and Vidal, E. (2011). Impacts of seabirds on plant and soil properties. Seabird Islands: Ecology, invasion and restoration. (pp. 135-176) edited by Christa P. H. Mulder, Wendy B. Anderson, David R. Towns and Peter J. Bellingham. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199735693.003.0005

  • Stewart, G. and Schmidt, S. (1999). Evolution and ecology of plant mineral nutrition. Physiological plant ecology: The 39th Symposium of the British Ecological Society, held at the University of York, 7-9 September 1998. (pp. 91-114) edited by Malcolm C. Press, Julie D. Scholes and Martin G. Barker. UK: Blackwell Science.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

  • Bell, Mike J., Biggs, Jody, Brennan McKellar, L., Connellan, Julian, Di Bella, Lawrence, Dwyer, Rod, Empson, Marine, Garside, Alan J., Harvey, Tim, Kraak, Jeff, Lakshmanan, Prakash, Lamb, David W., Meier, Elizabeth, Moody, Phil, Muster, Tim, Palmer, Jeda, Robinson, Nicole, Robson, Andrew, Salter, Barry, Schroeder, Bernard, Silburn, Mark, Schmidt, Susanne, Skocaj, Danielle M., Stacey, Samuel, Stanley, John, Thorburn, Peter, Verburg, Kirsten, Walker, Charlie, Wang, Weijin and Wood, Andrew (2015). A review of nitrogen use efficiency in sugarcane. Sugar Research Australia Limited.

  • Rossato, Laurence Suzanne Rosa, Pudmenzky, Alexander, Doley, David, Monteiro, Michael, Whittaker, Michael and Schmidt, Susanne (2008). Soil remediation process. 20110182670.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • We can mitigate climate change and restore degraded soils by replenishing carbon in agricultural soils through re-purposing carbon- and nutrient-rich organic wastes. This transdisciplinary project has plant and soil scientists working alongside waste engineers, government and industry partners in the Industry Transformation Training Centre for Biosolids (www.transformingbiosolids.org.au). Candidates interested in researching biosolids - digested, heated or pyrolysed will identify safe and efficient ways for rebuilding soil carbon stores and delivering nutrients to plants.

  • Cattle grazing of northern Australia's savannas has to support the industry's goal of carbon neutrality. Our project quantifies the benefits of biocrusts, the living cover of soil that consists of rich microbial communities that fix carbon and nitrogen, enhance soil fertility and prevent erosion. Spanning from molecular profiling of the smallest of organisms to remote sensing via satellite to track change over time, we address questions such as "What organisms live in biocrusts and what do they do? What management practices (grazing, fire) ensure landscape integrity and profitability?

  • Rare species in the Myrtaceae family occupy Queensland’s world-heritage listed Gondwanan rainforest. Many of these species are on the brink of extinction as myrtle rust is killing vulnerable species that are weakened by changing weather patterns. The protection status of the forest prevents the use of fungicides and alternatives are urgently sought. Since many of these plants naturally accumulate heavy metals, an intriguing idea is if these metals can fend off myrtle rust. Our interdisciplinary team of experts in plant pathology, ecophysiology, rare plant ecology and propagation will support students carrying out field and laboratory research to test the interactions between heavy metal accumulation and tolerance to myrtle rust. A scoping project at Honours level is available.

  • This project forms part of the Indigenous-led Australian Research Council-funded project "A Deadly Solution: Towards an Indigenous-led bush food industry". Indigenous communities will take a lead in the ever-expanding bushfood industry to develop bushfood plants for horticulture and new food and flavour products. The project advances economic opportunities for Australia's Traditional Owners to achieve cultural, health and environmental benefits. Native plants, their propagation, and production systems are the focus, with the opportunity to link to business, food and social science. Projects for all levels are available.

  • Our team of plant and soil scientists, engineers and compost industry develops next-generation fertiliser derived from wastes, i.e., food organics/green organics (FOGO) and other recyclates. Currently, FOGO often ends up in landfill and generates greenhouse gases. 'Bioengineering' superior compost formulations will have numerous benefits - improving soil, boosting crop growth and benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment. The project is supported by the Fight Food Waste CRC (https://fightfoodwastecrc.com.au/) and the organic waste recycling industry.

  • Soil and crop health are integral to high crop yields, yet degraded soils that have lost physical, chemical and biological function often reduce crop vigour and yield. We want to understand how compost can improve soils and this project will test the changes in vital soil functions at an innovative sugarcane farm in NQLD that has been using compose for several years.