Incitec Pivot Fertilisers

Incitec Pivot Fertilisers

Project name

Increasing nitrogen use efficiency with micronutrient coatings for urea fertiliser.

Project description

The inefficiency of Nitrogen (N) fertiliser use by crops is a key weakness that if addressed has significant economic and environmental benefits. Recent research has identified that the use of zinc coating on N fertiliser can achieve increased N use efficiency in wheat crops. Experiments under controlled conditions have found that there is a modification in the rate of conversion of urea through to nitrate that is likely to drive this enhanced efficiency. This 4 year PhD project will involve exploring mechanisms for modifying the reactions of N fertilisers in soil for enhanced N use efficiency. It is expected that the starting point will be combinations of N and trace elements in fertilisers tested for the conversion of N forms under controlled conditions in soil incubations.  The assumed N use efficiency effect of fertiliser N with delayed conversion to nitrate will be confirmed using wheat plants in soil pot culture.

Ideal candidate

  • A passion for and experience in real world applications of chemistry with some experience in Soil Science and an awareness of the applications of these disciplines to Agricultural productivity.
  • Must be adaptable, resilient, and a good communicator.
  • An ability to work in an integrated research team (Industry-University-CSIRO) on a multi-disciplinary project.

There will be interstate (Incitec) and international travel (Kansas State University), which the candidate needs to be willing to undertake.


The student would be Waite based, with 60% in University office/labs and 40% in CSIRO office/ labs. There will also be international travel (Kansas State University).


The placement will take place at Geelong, with some field trial work and the possibility of interstate travel.


CSIRO Partner Industry Partner University of Adelaide Partner
Business Unit:
Agriculture and Food
Incitec Pivot Fertilisers
Faculty of Sciences
Research Program:
Integrated Agricultural Systems
  School or Centre:
Agriculture, Food and Wine (Soil Science)
CSIRO Supervisor:
Therese McBeath
  UofA Supervisor(s):
Dr Ron Smernik and Prof Ganga Hettiarachchi

Application instructions

Please read all instructions carefully.

To apply for the Industry PhD program, 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”. You will be instructed below how to indicate your CSIRO project selection.

Apply now

Applications are now open.

  • Applications will be accepted up to 30 April 2019 or until the position is filled.
  • Please refer to our guide on submitting an application.
  • In addition you will need to submit an “Additional Information” form for each project that you want to apply for. Once complete it must be emailed as a PDF document to
  • Specific notes on completing the online application form sections “Study Preference” and “Research Interests” are outlined below.

Study preferences - Incitec Pivot Fertilisers

Add a Study Preference
Step 1-4:
Study type: Doctor of Philosophy
Award: Doctor of Philosophy in Sciences
School: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
Research Area: Soil Science
Study Conditions
Proposed study load: Full Time
Proposed attendance mode: Internal
Proposed start date: Between 1/2/2019 and 15/7/2019 as agreed with supervisor

Research interests

Please provide a brief statement of your research interests:

At the beginning of this free text field, list each project title for which you would like to be considered:

  • Agilent Technologies Australia: Identification, characterisation and exploitation of bioactive compounds from plant biomass.
  • Incitec Pivot Fertilisers: Increasing nitrogen use efficiency with micronutrient coatings for urea fertiliser.
  • Rio Tinto: Managing groundwater in complex mining landscapes using advanced dating techniques.
  • Andromeda Metals Limited: High Performance Solid-State Li-ion Battery based on Halloysite Additives for Next Generation Energy Storage Applications.

NOTE: A separate “Additional Information” form must be completed for each project you wish to be considered for. These forms must be emailed in PDF format to immediately after you have submitted your application for Admission.

Research interests: Proposed supervisor:

If you have indicated more than one CSIRO project, please include relevant supervisor name/s:

  • Agilent Technologies Australia: Professor Vincent Bulone.
  • Incitec Pivot Fertilisers: Dr Ron Smernik/Prof Ganga Hettiarachchi.
  • Rio Tinto: Professor Andre Luiten/Dr Phil Light.
  • Andromeda Metals Limited: Dr Deepak P Dubal.

Continue completing all other sections of the online application form and upload all required documents.


  • Completed your “Admission Only” online application form.
  • Included CSIRO Project Title/s and Proposed Supervisor/s in the Research Interests field of your application.
  • Uploaded all other required documentation and submitted your online application.
  • Filled out the Additional Information form/s for each project you wish to be considered for.
  • Emailed PDF versions of your completed Additional Information form/s to

General information on your application

  • Once submitted, your application will be reviewed to determine your eligibility to be admitted to the PhD Program.
  • Applicants due to complete their undergraduate or honours programs in Semester 1 are eligible to apply, however, any offer would be conditional on successful completion of the degree.
  • Your eligibility to be considered for the Industry PhD program of your choice will be reviewed.
  • If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will be contacted for a formal interview by CSIRO and the University.
  • You will be notified of the outcome of your application following the interview.
  • If your application is unsuccessful, your online application for Admission will be closed.
  • Should you wish to apply for a PhD program unrelated to the CSIRO Industry PhD program, you will need to submit a separate new application for Admission and Scholarship during one of the 2 rounds held each year. The Mid-Year Round opens early April and closes 30 May, while the Major Round opens 1 September and closes 31 October.


If you require assistance with the online application process please contact:

Adelaide Graduate Centre Senior Scholarships Officers
Phone: +61 8 8313 3044

For any other enquiries about the CSIRO Industry PhD Program please contact:
HDR Industry Enquiries
Tel: +61 8 8313 9127
Free-call: 1800 061 459