Shedding light on the secret life within our farming soils

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 01 May 2014

Soil Biology Initiative II logo: stylised icon of a green plant in brown soil, with the text "Soil Biology Initiative II - Supported by the GRDC" to the right of the icon.

World-leading soil biologists are preparing to shed new light on the “secret” life that exists within Australia’s agricultural soils.

They will gather in Melbourne on May 15 to share new understandings about the biological component of the nation’s cropping soils that have been unearthed through the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Soil Biology Initiative (SBI) II.

The Soil Biology Symposium will be attended by researchers, grains industry consultants and advisers and growers who will discuss what is now known about the influence of soil biology on crop production.

Pauline Mele

SBI II co-ordinator, Associate Professor Pauline Mele.

SBI II co-ordinator, Associate Professor Pauline Mele, says a highlight of the symposium will be a presentation by one of the world’s leading soil biologists, Dr Jack Gilbert, from the Argonne National Laboratories in Chicago, USA.

“Dr Gilbert will provide a world view on the role and relevance of soil microbes in food production systems, both now and into the future, and where GRDC’s SBI II investment fits into the global research effort,” said Assoc Prof Mele.

“Researchers who have been investigating the influence of soil biology on farming systems across Australia’s grain growing regions will discuss their findings and what these mean for grain growers and their future farm practices.

“And grain growers at the symposium will give their insights on what soil biology means to them and how outcomes of research can have practical on-farm impact.”

To be held at AgriBio in Bundoora, the symposium will explore the role of biology in plant nutrient supply, how suppressive soils function and monitoring of soil quality with new tools and technologies.

For further information or to register interest in attending the free-of-charge symposium, please contact Pauline Mele on 03 9032 7083 or 0409 543935 or email, or Rebecca Mitchell on 03 9032 7155 or email

More information about GRDC’s Soil Biology Initiative is available via


Caption: SBI II co-ordinator, Associate Professor Pauline Mele.

More information

For Interviews 

Assoc Prof Pauline Mele,
Phone 0409 543935 


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli,
Phone 0409 675100

GRDC Project Code UWA00138, UWA00142, UWA00139, UWA00150, DAV00102, DAV00105, CSP00138, UA00119, DAQ00164, CSP00135, DAS00111, DAV00120, DAV00106, UA00128, US00050, DAW00201

Region National, South, West