Rhiannon Schilling

Rhiannon Schilling

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Schilling is an agricultural scientist. She is the Program Leader of Agronomy at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the Deputy Director of the South Australian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub ("SA Drought Hub", $19.47 M, 59 partners) and an Affiliate Lecturer at The University of Adelaide. She has expertise in agronomy, plant physiology, soil science, molecular biology and remote sensing. During her PhD, she evaluated the salinity tolerance of transgenic barley lines expressing a vacuolar proton-pumping pyrophosphatase gene and established the first field trials of GM barley at saline sites in Australia. Between 2014-2016, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow on a GRDC-funded project (UA00145) 'Development of salinity tolerant wheat and barley". Between 2016-2020, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow on a GRDC-funded project (UA00159) "Improving wheat yields on sodic, magnesic and dispersive soils" and developed pre-breeding wheat lines with improved tolerance to subsoil constraints. Dr Schilling manages over >$30 M of research projects focused on improving crop and soil management and 40+ research and technical staff throughout the low, medium and high rainfall zones of SA. As an early career researcher, receiving her PhD in 2014, she has supervised 10 PhD, Masters and Honours students and published 13 peer-reviewed scientific articles with >433 citations. Dr Schilling is the recipient of thirteen academic awards including the AIPS SA Young Tall Poppy award and the University of Adelaide’s Vice Chancellors Award for Outstanding Excellence in Early Career Research.

A South Australian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub (‘SA Drought Hub’) has been established through the Australian Government's Future Drought Fund to enhance adoption of drought resilient practices. The SA Drought Hub is an innovation and adoption ‘infrastructure’ consisting of a network of 59 grower groups, universities, government agencies, indigenous partners, agribusinesses, RD&E partners and industry organisations. The initial focus will be to co-design and deliver demand driven activities across regional nodes of pastoral, low, medium and high rainfall mixed farming to demonstrate and increase adoption of drought resilience practices, implement social resilient and wellbeing strategies and leverage future investments for drought innovation and adoption initiatives. The SA Drought Hub will increase preparedness and transition mixed farming towards a future climate with less rainfall. The SA Drought Hub will link to all industry sectors to provide broad resilience and innovation support across the state. See further information: https://sadroughthub.com.au/   

Subsoil constraints prevent current elite bread wheat varieties from achieving their yield potential. Dispersive soils (also referred to as sodic soils) reduce wheat yields on 68 % of cropping land in Australia. These soils comprise multiple subsoil constraints including high soil pH, salinity, high boron, high aluminium, waterlogging and high soil strength. A GRDC-funded project UA00159 aimed to improve the yield of wheat in dispersive soils by pyramiding tolerance to these multiple soil constraints into elite wheat varieties. Read more here: https://groundcover.grdc.com.au/innovation/plant-breeding/tolerance-tested-against-constraints and https://groundcover.grdc.com.au/crops/cereals/fortified-wheats-show-promise-on-sodic-soils

A SAGIT-funded project used drones fitted with RGB and multispectral cameras to non-destructively assess the performance of wheat varieties at field trial sites. This project calibrated data obtained from drone images with handheld trial plot measurements of NDVI, plant height and biomass and investigated the use of drones to measure plant growth through time in the field. Read more here: https://www.stockjournal.com.au/story/6259223/drones-used-in-crop-research/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1bBJ6FdbEA

The Smart Farming Partnership project (with the Mallee Sustainable Farming and consortium members) is focused on a holistic approach to saline seep management for preventing land degradation in the landscape. This project involves three key areas including (1) early detection of saline seeps, (2) preventing saline seep formation and (3) remediating saline seeps.

A GRDC-funded project (led by PIRSA, Brian Hughes) is focused on "New knowledge and practices to address topsoil and subsurface acidity under minimum tillage cropping systems of South Australia". The University of Adelaide is contributing to components focused on (1) Assessment of different lime sources, movement and rates on soil pH and crop growth, (2) influence of additional amendments on the neutralising value of lime, (3) Novel methods to increase the effectiveness of lime applications and (4) Near-infrared (NIR) testing of lime and soil buffering capacity and analysis of crop responses to variation in soil pH using spectral sensors. Visit: https://acidsoilssa.com.au/

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2021 - ongoing Deputy Director South Australian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub
    2020 - ongoing Program Leader of Agronomy South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)
    2020 - ongoing Affiliate Lecturer The University of Adelaide
    2016 - 2020 Postdoctoral Fellow The University of Adelaide
    2014 - 2016 Postdoctoral Fellow The University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2021 Award Certificate of Recognition - Exemplary Service Department of Primary Industries and Regions Australia
    2020 Award South Australian Young Tall Poppy Australian Institute of Policy and Science Australia
    2019 Award The Edith Dornwell Medal The University of Adelaide Australia
    2019 Award The Inaugural Vice Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Achievement, Excellence in Research (Early Career Research). The University of Adelaide Australia
    2015 Award The Plant Nutrition Trust Travel Award The Plant Nutrition Trust
    2014 Award Dean's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence University of Adelaide
    2012 Award The Royal Society of South Australia Postgraduate Student Prize (2nd) Royal Society of South Australia
    2012 Award The AgPOGS Prize University of Adelaide
    2012 Award The Max Tate Prize University of Adelaide
    2012 Award The K.P. Barley Prize University of Adelaide
    2011 Scholarship GRDC Grains Industry Research Scholarship Grains Research & Development Corporation
    2011 Scholarship Australian Postgraduate Award Australian Government
    2010 Award The E.J. and E.I. Graham Prize in Plant Nutrition University of Adelaide
    2010 Scholarship Honours Scholarship Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics
    2009 Scholarship Summer Scholarship Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics
    2009 Award The Mark Paul Bowker Memorial Prize University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2011 - 2014 University of Adelaide Australia Doctor of Philosophy, PhD
    2010 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Plant Science, First Class
    2007 - 2009 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science)
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    2018 Remote Pilot Licence, Multirotor up to 7 kg Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia Australia
    2018 Aeronautical Radio Operator Certificate (AROC) Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia Australia
  • Australian Government Soil Challenge (2022-2025) “Past, present and future drivers of soil change” ($3.12 M) (co-lead CI Rhiannon Schilling and A/Prof Tim Cavagnaro including researchers at UoA, SARDI, BCG, Kalyx, AGRF, TEI)

  • Future Drought Fund (FDF) (2021-2024) ($8 M FDF funds + $11.47 M cash and in-kind = $19.47 M) 'South Australian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub' with our 59 industry groups and organisations to establish the SA Drought Hub (Rhiannon Schilling Lead CI). SA Drought Hub - Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub

  • ARC Training Centre for Accelerated Future Crop Development ($5 M ARC and $5 M industry, total of $10 M) (led by Barry Pogson at ANU and CEO Lauren DuFall) (ARC Training Centre for Future Crops Development – Socially Responsible Genetic & Field Technologies for Future Crops (futurecropscentre.edu.au)

  • South Australian Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) (2022) “Realising cereal yield potential using crop physiology and drone technology” (Kupke, B. (lead CI), Raja Segaran, R., Schilling, R.K. CI) ($69,921)

  • South Australian Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) (2021-2022) S-UA821 ($35,350) "Investigating aluminium speciation in wheat roots in alkaline soil" (Rhiannon Schilling (Lead CI), Cassandra Schefe)

  • South Australian Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) (2021-2022) ($76,546) "Evaluating super high oleic acid safflower in sodic and saline soils" (Rhiannon Schilling Lead CI)

  • GRDC (2020-2023) National Variety Trials - Upper Eyre Peninsula, Mid-North and Murray Mallee

  • GRDC (2020-2022) ($1.27 M) "Machine learning to extract maximum value from soil and crop variability" (Rhiannon Schilling Lead CI with The University of Adelaide, Australian Grain Technologies (AGT), Consilium Technology, Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), Teletraffic Research Centre, Federation University Australia, Agronomy Solutions, The University of Queensland, The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, SARDI, Riverine Plains, Precision Agriculture & Thomas Elder Institute)

  • Yitpi Foundation (2019) ($20,000) "The genetic tolerance of wheat root growth in alkaline soils" (Rhiannon Schilling, sole CI)

  • GRDC Proc-9175870 (2019-2022) (Total funds of $2.25 M) "New knowledge and practices to address topsoil and subsurface acidity under minimum tillage cropping systems of South Australia". PIRSA (Brian Hughes (lead CI), Andrew Harding, Brett Masters, Claire Dennerley, David Woodard, Mary-Anne Young, Nigel Fleming), Trengove Consulting, Penrice, The University of Adelaide (Rhiannon Schilling, Luke Mosley & Petra Marschner) & AgCommunicators.

  • National Landcare Smart Farming Partnership (Federal Government) (2018-2022) ($965,500), "A holistic approach to seep management for preventing land degradation in the landscape" with additional funds from the Grains Research & Development Corporation ($300,000) and the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board ($80,000). Total funds of $1.35 M. Mallee Sustainable Farming (lead) with consortium members from CSIRO, South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board, Mallee Catchment Management Authority, The University of Adelaide, Insight Extension for Agriculture, AGRIvision, Frontier Farming Systems, Coorong Tatiara Local Action Planning Association.

  • South Australian Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) (2018-2019) "Investigating the accuracy of plant traits measured using drones" (Rhiannon Schilling (lead CI), Glenn McDonald, Ramesh Raja Segaran, $21,025)

  • South Australian Grain Industry Trust (SAGIT) (2017-2018) "Use of drones to non-destructively assess wheat varieties" (Rhiannon Schilling (lead CI), Glenn McDonald, Ramesh Raja Segaran, $21,545)

  • Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility (URAF) and The Plant Accelerator pilot project (2016): New precision agriculture UAV platform (Rhiannon Schilling)
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Principal Supervisor Use of remote sensing to assess and manage phosphorus fertiliser application to reduce crop variability Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Enqi Wu
    2020 Co-Supervisor Application of innovative techniques to assess pH spatial variability and stratification, lime movement and plant responses in acid soils Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Ruby Zelda Hume
    2019 Co-Supervisor Breeding Faba Bean (Vicia Faba L.) for Acidic Soils of Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Samuel Catt
    2018 Co-Supervisor Understanding Root Responses of Cereals Conferring Tolerance to Alkaline Sodic Soils Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jakob Schulz
    2018 Co-Supervisor Enhancing Crop Performance with Energy Use Efficient Abiotic Stress Tolerance Traits Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Muhammad Khairul Hisyam Ahmad Sohaimi
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 - 2020 Co-Supervisor Understanding salinity tolerance of a bread wheat landrace Mocho de Espiga Branca Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms . Chana
    2015 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Identification and characterisation of vacuolar proton-pumping pyrophosphatase genes in bread wheat Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Daniel Menadue
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2018 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Effects of image overlap and resolution of UAV-collected imagery on digital surface model accuracy in wheat breeding field trials Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility, The University of Adelaide Bachelor of Science (Honours) Honours Full Time Dillon Campbell
    2018 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Evaluating the role of H+-pyrophosphatases in wheat School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, The University of Adelaide Extended Research Project Plant Biotechnology Master Full Time Leighlan Doe
    2018 - ongoing Co-Supervisor The value of ALMT1 to wheat growth under high pH and high Al School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, The University of Adelaide Bachelor of Science (Honours) Honours Full Time Ellen de Vries
  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2019 - ongoing Member Agricultural Bureau of South Australia - Australia
    2014 - ongoing Member South Australian Barley Advisory Committee (SABAC) Grains Producers SA Australia
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2021 - ongoing Member SA Drought Hub Operations Committee SA Drought Hub Australia
    2021 - ongoing Member Ag Institute Australia - SA Ag Institute Australia Australia
    2020 - ongoing Member Operations Committee Upper North Farming Systems Inc Australia
    2020 - ongoing Member Low Rainfall RD&E Committee Ag Innovation & Research (AIR EP) Australia
    2018 - ongoing Chair Waite Campus Seminar Series The University of Adelaide Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2019 - ongoing Member Australian Association for Unmanned Systems Australia
    2018 - ongoing Member The Crop Science Society of South Australia Australia

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