Chris Penfold

Mr Chris Penfold

Research Officer

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences

As a research agronomist my focus has been the enhancement of agricultural systems through improved economic and environmental sustainability. The first 9 years involved a broadacre (arable agriculture) comparative trial of organic, biodynamic, integrated and conventional farming systems, and a similar trial in viticulture has recently been completed. Within the scope of the above work has been the role of compost as a fertilizer and mulch, and non-chemical methods of weed control in both broadacre and viticultural systems, including the use of native grasses and prostrate saltbush as cover crops. The present project is investigating the potential use of undervine cover crops in vineyards as a means of suppressing weed growth and improving soil quality without compromising on yield or fruit quality.

Since 2001 I have been funded by the grape and wine sector (GWRDC and Wine Australia) to research sustainable floor management systems for viticulture. Initially the work focused on non-chemical weed control options for the under-vine and mid-rows - essentially competitive cover crops in the mid-row and imported mulches for the under-vine zone. Further work looked at the use of native cover crop species to enhance vineyard biodiversity and suppress weeds. A  comparison of organic, biodynamic, with low and high input conventional viticultural systems at McLaren Vale (a continuation of a PhD project) followed. Most recently the cover crop investigations have resumed, but now working in the undervine zone. A link to my AWRI webinar in 2016, which summarizes the important findings from the cover crop work is provided below.

Date Project/ No. Investigators Funding Body Amount
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2012 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Compost effects on soil water content, plant growth under drought and nutrient leaching Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Trung Ta Nguyen
    2011 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Compost Effects on Soil Properties and Plant Growth Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Thi Thanh Tra Duong
    2011 - 2013 Co-Supervisor Effect of Compost on Soil Phosphorous Availability Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Suman Lata Verma
    2010 - 2015 Co-Supervisor The Effects of Residue Mixing, Clay Content and Drying and Rewetting on Soil Respiration and Microbial Biomass Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Andong Shi
    2009 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Effect of Organic, Biodynamic and Conventional Vineyard Management Inputs on Grapevine Growth and Susceptibility to Powdery Mildew and Botrytis Bunch Rot Master of Agricultural Science Master Part Time Mr Benjamin Pike
  • Position: Research Officer
  • Phone: 83137735
  • Email:
  • Campus: Roseworthy
  • Building: Agronomy Buildings F3, floor G
  • Room: G 15
  • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

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