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Key Research Personnel

Professor Philip Brown
Professor Philip Brown

Professor Phil Brown - Professor of Horticultural Science

Professor Phil Brown is a horticultural scientist with more than 25 years experience in horticultural crop research. He has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree and PhD from the University of Tasmania and has held both academic and research leadership positions in the higher education sector.

Phil has led more than 40 externally funded projects covering a range of horticultural industry topic areas, focussing specifically on collaborative research with industry to address issues that impact on productivity, profitability and sustainability.

He is a past President of the Australian Society for Horticultural Science. He is currently the Director of the Institute for Future Farming Systems at CQU and leads the Precision Horticulture research cluster.

Current research projects:

  • Integrating protected cropping systems into high value vegetable value chains in the Pacific and Australia – Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
  • Supporting commercial sweetpotato production and marketing in the PNG highlands - Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
  • Optimisation of a crop fertility management program - Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Advanced Management Decision Tool for Tropical/Subtropical Protected Cropping Systems - Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
  • Novel approaches for root-knot nematode control - Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation

Industry and funding partners:

  • Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd

Associate Professor Simon White
Associate Professor Simon White

Associate Professor Simon White - Senior Research Fellow (Agricultural Management)

Dr Simon White joined CQU within the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences (HMAS) in July 2017 and comes with 20 years’ experience in agricultural research programs from working for various state and federal government organisations, universities, research development corporations and multi-national companies. He holds a bachelor degree in Applied Science (Rural Technology) with First Class Honour’s and a PhD in irrigation management. Dr White’s main areas of expertise are in soil, water and climate risk management, and land resource management and rehabilitation. His past research experience has involved irrigation systems evaluations, water management studies, climate risk impacts, soil management and rehabilitation, food security in a developing country context and crop agronomy improvements. His current research focus within the Institute for Future Farming Systems (IFFS) is in precision horticulture and the advancement of innovative future farming practices. Working also previously in the commercial world of precision agriculture, Dr White understands the needs of the agricultural sector when it comes to practical and useful implementation of agtech innovations and integration of remote sensing in crop monitoring and management.

Current research projects:

  • Improving economic productivity and environmental sustainability of sugarcane production with advanced fertigation management
  • Improving irrigation management in bag based crop production
  • Advancing the adoption of wireless network systems for real-time crop monitoring and autonomous system control.
  • Use of drone-based sensor for crop monitoring and advanced agronomic management

Industry and funding partners:

  • Sugar Cane- Netafim Australia and Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Chillies and Avocados - AustChilli
  • Ginger- Bundaberg Sugar and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks

Dr Yujuan Li
Dr Yujuan Li

Dr Yujuan (Jady) Li - Senior Research Officer - Horticultural Crop Protection

Dr Yujuan (Jady) Li received a bachelors degree in plant pathology in 2003 and PhD in soil nematode ecology in 2008.

She possesses broad knowledge and strong expertise in nematode taxonomy, plant pathology, soil biology and ecology.

Her current research interests are plant disease and pest management, including biological control of plant parasitic nematodes.

Since joining CQU in 2015, her research has focused on improving horticultural systems for industry outcomes by developing integrated management of root-knot nematodes and other crop diseases (e.g. fruit fly, tomato bacteria speck and pachymetra root rot disease).

Current research projects:

  • Li YJ. Novel approaches for root-knot nematodes control. Advance Queensland Mid-Career Research Fellowship, Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation.
  • Li YJ. Development of fungal biocontrol agents to manage root-knot nematode in ginger.Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
  • Li YJ, Xu CY, Brown P, Stirling G, Henderson C. Alternative products as urgent solutions of losing nematicides in sweetpotato. Central Queensland University.
  • Li YJ, Xu CY, Brown PH, Stirling G, Layden I, Henderson C. Sustainable management of plant-parasitic nematodes in sweetpotato. Central Queensland University.
  • Xu CY, Li YJ, Halpin N, Wright G, Coulombe J, Brown P. Application of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for remote crop disease detection. Central Queensland University.

Industry and funding partners:

  • Organic Crop Protectants (Novel approaches for root-knot nematodes control)
  • Australian Sweetpotato Growers association (Novel approaches for root-knot nematodes control)
  • Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Government (Novel approaches for root-knot nematodes control)
  • Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (Development of fungal biocontrol agents to manage root-knot nematode in ginger)
  • Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Development of fungal biocontrol agents to manage root-knot nematode in ginger)
  • BASF Chemicals (previous industry consultant project)

Senior Research Officer Kirt Hainzer
Senior Research Officer Kirt Hainzer

Kirt Hainzer - Senior Research Officer - Agriculture Value Chain Management

Kirt is an agro-ecologist with more than 10 years experience in agriculture research and development. He has a Bachelor of Finance degree from Newcastle University and a Master of Science from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and has worked within industry, government and academia. Kirt is focussed on improving the functionality of value chains within developing economies specifically on research which addresses trust and relationships.

Current research projects:

  • Supporting commercial sweet potato production and marketing in the PNG highlands - Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

Industry and funding partners:

  • Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

Dr Richard Koech
Dr Richard Koech

Dr Richard Koech - Lecturer - Agriculture

Richard is a Lecturer based at the CQUniversity’s Bundaberg Campus. He is an Agricultural Engineer, with Masters and PhD qualifications in the field of irrigation engineering and hydraulics.

Richard’s expertise and research interests include:

  • Agricultural soil and water management
  • Agricultural education and extension
  • GIS and remote sensing applications in agriculture
  • Flow measurement and instrumentation

He undertakes research in collaboration with a number of government and industry partners.

Current research projects:

  • Sugar cane irrigation and fertigation trial (in collaboration with Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QLD) and Netafim)
  • Smart sensor and drone data integration for precision irrigation (in collaboration with Multikraft Probiotics Australia)
  • Improving the transition of agricultural students between vocational and higher education
  • Optimising irrigation efficiency in the horticultural and sugar cane industries

Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai
Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai

Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai - Senior Lecturer - Agriculture

Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai is passionate about soil conservation and promoting sustainable land management practices on fragile soils against climate change and human disturbance, both in Australia and across the Pacific. Dr Hosseini Bai's research interests encompass soil and plant interactions in diverse ecosystems, including forestry, agroforestry, revegetation and agriculture. Her current research focusses on soil response to biochar application, drought and alternative weed control methods. Most recently, she has developed expertise in digital agriculture and leads a research group that uses hyperspectral imaging to rapidly predict plant stress, soil nutrient concentration, fruit set and food quality. Her research in the Pacific focusses on improving soil fertility, increasing food security and improving post-harvest processing (e.g. drying and value adding) of nuts and fruit. Dr Hosseini Bai is also an adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Current research projects:

  • Enhancing private sector-led development of the canarium industry in Papua New Guinea.
  • Effects of biochar and compost applications on soil fertility and plant productivity in horticulture, agriculture and agroforestry.
  • Using novel methods for drought mitigation.
  • Non-destructive assessment of nutrients in soil, leaf and crop using hyperspectral imaging.
  • Effects of agroforestry systems on soil nutrient availability in Papua New Guinea.
  • Effects of herbicides on soil bio-chemical properties.

Industry and funding partners:

  • ACIAR
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia

Dr Chengyuan Xu
Dr Chengyuan Xu

Dr Chengyuan (Stephen) Xu - Research Fellow - Horticultural Farming Systems

Stephen’s background is in plant ecophysiology, having completed a PhD with Columbia University, in the United States. During his career, he has worked on diverse topics of research unified by the theme of applying plant physiological principles to improve crop production and sustainability, including:

  • Crop physiological responses to climatic factors and resource availability;
  • Detection of crop stress and other issues with drone and sensor technologies;
  • Carbon (C) farming approaches to improve soil fertility and crop yield; and
  • Understanding the physiology and adaptation of invasive weeds to improve their management and control.

Since joining CQUniversity in 2015, his research has focused on improving horticultural systems for industry outcomes by combining general crop physiological principles and novel technologies including sensors and drones and digital data platforms.

Current research projects:

  • Xu CY. Applications of smart home IoT (internet-of-things) sensors in agriculture science, Queensland Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games
  • Li YJ, Xu CY, Brown PH, Guo W. Novel approaches for root-knot nematodes control, Advance Queensland Mid-Career Research Fellowship, Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
  • Xu CY, Brown PH, Swain D, Jovicich E. Early Detection of Crop Stresses in Tropical Protected Cropping Systems, Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation

Industry and funding partners:

  • Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
  • Queensland Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games
  • Perfection Fresh Australia