Blog icon

Dr Mark Farrell

Principal Research Scientist


Please enter a valid first name

Please enter a valid last name

Please enter a valid email address

Please enter your message to send to the contact

Contact details:



Dr Farrell is a biogeochemist with particular interest in the interactions between organic carbon and nitrogen in soils, and the importance of these on ecosystem function and agricultural productivity. He uses radio- and stable- isotopes to track fluxes through the soil-plant-microbe interface, and spectral techniques including NMR and MIR to investigate the chemistry of pools within these systems. His research spans fundamental work to identify and isolate important functional processes through to broad applied studies where outcomes are delivered to partners in industry and government. He has studied many different land uses and ecosystems within Australia and internationally, and he seeks to find commonalities and differences in processes and function between these. A long standing interest of his has been the competition between plants and microorganisms for different nitrogen forms, particularly dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), and the hitherto unrecognised role this pool of reactive N may play in agricultural plant nutrition. He recently led a GRDC-funded project to investigate the potential role of biological farming inputs in Australian broad-acre agriculture.

Dr Farrell is currently involved in a number of on-going projects and research areas including:
* Interactions between soil organic carbon chemistry and nutrient cycling
* Understanding the relationships between rapidly measurable nitrogen pools and fluxes and plant nitrogen uptake
* Quantifying variability in nitrogen preference across differing wheat lines
* Assessing the efficacy of biological farming inputs for improved grain production
* Linking organic matter chemistry to stability and sequestration potential in organic amendments
* Understanding the relationship between soil microbial diversity and carbon stabilisation

Current Roles

  • Team Leader
    Soil Biogeochemistry

  • Project Leader
    Probing “invisible” inputs with isotopes and biomarkers

  • Project Leader
    An innovative method for probing active soil microbial function

  • Team member
    Reviewing mechanisms and magnitude of nutrient mineralisation in Australian grain producing soils

  • Team member
    Soil and cotton nutrition data: Rochester's database

Academic Qualifications

  • 2004

    BSc (Hons) Environmental Science
    Bangor University

  • 2009

    Bangor University

Achievements and Awards

  • 2014

    Young Scientist
    CSIRO Land & Water

  • 2014-2017

    Julius Career Award

  • 2017-2019

    Thomas Davies Research Grant
    Australian Academy of Sciences


  • 2014-2017

    Julius Career Award

  • 2014-2017

    Understanding Biological Farming Inputs

  • 2014-2017

    The soil organic matter conundrum: why are thermodynamically unstable compounds stable in soils?

  • 2012-2015

    The carbon sequestration potential of organic amendments

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2015--

    Associate Editor, Soil Research