Agricultural scientist Dr Rhiannon Schilling has been named a 2020 South Australian Tall Poppy in recognition of her research into improving crops to overcome soil constraints.

The Tall Poppy Awards, an initiative of the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, recognises achievement in the sciences and helps to communicate the passion and purpose of Australia’s finest scientists. 

Soil constraints, such as high levels of sodium, affect 68 per cent of cropping land in Australia. Sodic soils with high levels of sodium have multiple chemical and physical properties that restrict root growth and subsoil water use leading to reduced overall crop growth and grain yield. 

Dr Schilling is developing agronomic solutions to improve crops to overcome soil constraints. Her research has focused on increasing root growth and subsoil water use in sodic soils by pyramiding tolerance to multiple soil constraints into elite wheat varieties. 

Rhiannon is an enthusiastic agricultural scientist who participates in a diverse range of outreach activities including print and broadcast media, speaking about her career with primary and secondary school students and presenting her research to grower groups at field trial crop walks. 

Dr Schilling received her PhD from The University of Adelaide in 2014 and is currently the Program Leader of Agronomy at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) within Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA). She is an Affiliate Lecturer at The University of Adelaide and Waite Research Institute.

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