Peter Quin

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Dr Peter Quin

Peter Quin

Research Fellow, Production Horticulture

Room 453 , Life Sciences

+61 3 6226 2713 (phone)

Dr Peter Quin is a Research Fellow in Production Horticulture at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. His current research is focussed on nitrogen use in commercial sweet cherry orchards. This encompasses the uptake and distribution of nitrogen within the trees and its loss to the environment. The outcomes of this research will help advise growers on the optimum rate and timing of nitrogen fertiliser application. The research builds upon Peter’s previous work examining nitrogen movement and transformations within soil, and the influence of biochar on soil structure and in the reduction of soil greenhouse gas emissions.


Before joining the University of Tasmania, Peter completed a PhD through the University of New England (UNE, Australia). His thesis, entitled ‘An Exploration of N2O Emission from Soils and the Role of Biochar in its Mitigation’ was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for Doctoral Research. The research examined the development by denitrification and movement of nitrous oxide in soil under field conditions, and the effect of biochar on its emission. In addition, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy were used in laboratory tests, showing that nitrous oxide had interacted with components of the biochar. Most of the research was carried out at the Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, with the facilities and staff experience being most suited to the project. The advanced imaging was performed at the University of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong. While completing his thesis Peter was employed as a Research Associate by Southern Cross Plant Sciences, Southern Cross University (Australia). His research there covered crops of tea tree, avocado, coffee, wet- and dryland rice: the work examined the effect of different soil treatments, including biochar and inter-row legumes, on crop growth, carbon sequestration and emissions from the soil of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Career summary


DegreeThesis titleUniversityCountryDate of Award

An Exploration of N2O Emission from Soils and the Role of Biochar in its Mitigation

University of New EnglandAustraliaOct 2018
BSc (1st Class Honours in Physics)The Development of a Means of Detecting Ponding for Use in the Automation of a Drip InfiltrometerUniversity of New EnglandAustralia2011


Professional practice

The Soil Science Society of Australia; The International Union of Soil Sciences; The American Association for the Advancement of Science

Administrative expertise

Joint administration of a farm business: cattle breeding (600 ha); managing own manufacturing business – each for 14 years


Soil chemistry and structure; x-ray image analysis; greenhouse gases; climate change – cause and effects; physics; mathematics

Research Appointments

  • Research Associate, Southern Cross Plant Science, Southern Cross University, NSW (2014-2016)
  • Research Fellow in Production Horticulture, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania, TAS (2017- )

Research Invitations

  • Drainage losses of N2O and NO3- in Ferralsol is a major N-loss pathway; Quin P.R., Van Zwieten L., Grace P.R., Macdonald L.M., Cowie A.L., Erler D.V., Young I.M., Kimber S.W.L.; Impact presentation at 7th International Nitrogen Initiative Conference (INI 2016), Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne, Australia (December 4-8, 2016).
  • The genesis and transport of N2O in soil; Peter Quin, Lukas Van Zwieten, Stephen Kimber, Peter Grace, Stephen Morris, Annette Cowie, Lynne Macdonald and Iain Young. 20th World Congress of Soil Science, Jeju, South Korea (June 8-13, 2014).
  • Structural change in 3 contrasting soils amended with Oil Mallee biochar – a study using x-ray micro-tomography and The transport of N2O in the soil profile and the impact of Oil Mallee biochar on surface flux; Quin, P.R., National Biochar Workshop, Sydney University, Australia (December 16, 2013).

View more on Mr Peter Quin in WARP


  • Nitrogen use in commercial cherry orchards
  • Uptake, distribution and efficiency of use of nitrogen fertiliser by cherry trees
  • Recycling of nitrogen from leaves and pruned stems of cherry trees
  • Nitrogen transformations in soil
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from soil, particularly nitrous oxide
  • The role of nitrous oxide and other pollutants in the destruction of stratospheric ozone
  • Nitrogen pollution of the environment

Research Themes

Peter’s research aligns with the University’s Environment, Resources & Sustainability research theme. Nitrogen (N) is an essential tree-crop nutrient and N fertiliser inputs constitute an important proportion of farm production costs and greatly influence fruit yield and quality. However, questions remain as to the best timing and optimum rate of N application, to maximise production of quality fruit and minimise losses of N to the environment. This research, as part of the national More Profit from Nitrogen program, aims to answer these questions and thus provide guidelines to improve nitrogen use efficiency in commercial cherry orchards.

Australia’s cherry crop had a value of $164m in 2015-2016. The Tasmanian crop was valued at $64 for this period, an increase of more than 100 per cent on the previous year, and maintained its reputation as a premium product with a large proportion exported overseas every year. In common with many agricultural production systems worldwide the loss of N to the environment, by leaching as nitrate through the soil or emitted as nitrous oxide gas, are potential problems for the cherry industry. Nitrate is an important pollutant of streams, rivers and coastal environments (e.g. the Great Barrier Reef) and nitrous oxide the third most important greenhouse gas and notable contributor to the destruction of stratospheric ozone. In partnering with industry and government in this research (Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; Tasmanian Government; Cherry Growers Australia Inc. and Hort Innovation Australia), the University aims to play a part in solving these real-world problems. In doing so, through enhancing profitability and by reducing environmental impacts, it will contribute to ensuring the sustainability of the cherry industry, both economically and in terms of social support.


  • With research partners in the Action on the Ground Program Round Two (funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources): examining ways to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from and sequester carbon in soils producing crops of tea tree, avocados, coffee and rice.
  • With research partners in the More Profit from Nitrogen Program (jointly funded): examining ways to improve nitrogen use efficiency, enhance profitability and reduce environmental losses of nitrogen in crops of cherries, mangoes, cotton, sugarcane and dairy pastures.


2010: Australian Institute of Physics award for best Australian physics honours thesis

2017: University of New England Chancellor’s Medal for Doctoral Research

Current projects

More Profit from Nitrogen: enhancing the nutrient use efficiency of intensive cropping and pasture systems, is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program:

As part of this program research is being undertaken in two commercial cherry orchards. One study involves the application of calcium nitrate fertiliser, an industry standard, enriched with a stable isotope of nitrogen (15N) to enable it to be traced and distinguished from pre-existing nitrogen. The fertiliser has been applied to trees with different timings and trees are to be excavated at dormancy in winter and in the following spring for detailed analysis. This will enable a determination of how much of the nitrogen stored by the trees during dormancy is remobilised for spring growth. A comparison of the nitrogen-use efficiency of applied fertiliser, its distribution within the trees and any effects on fruit yield and quality is being assessed in relation to different timings of fertiliser application. A short video produced by Hort Innovation Australia, one of the project partners, can be seen at

A second trial is being conducted in young, non-bearing cherry trees to examine the effects of different rates of calcium nitrate fertiliser and organic nitrogen and biological inoculants on their growth.

Fields of Research

  • Horticultural Crop Growth and Development (070601)

Research Objectives

  • Pome Fruit, Pip Fruit (820210)
  • Stone Fruit (820211)


  • Quin, P. R., A. L. Cowie, R. J. Flavel, B. P. Keen, L. M. Macdonald, S. G. Morris, B. P. Singh, I. M. Young and L. Van Zwieten (2014). 'Oil mallee biochar improves soil structural properties—A study with x-ray micro-CT.' Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 191: 142-149.
  • Quin, P., S. Joseph, O. Husson, S. Donne, D. Mitchell, P. Munroe, D. Phelan, A. Cowie and L. Van Zwieten (2015). 'Lowering N2O emissions from soils using eucalypt biochar: the importance of redox reactions.' Scientific Reports 5: 16773.
  • Rose, T. J., B. Keen, S. G. Morris, P. Quin, J. Rust, L. Kearney, S. Kimber and L. Van Zwieten (2016). 'Application of woody biochar and woody mulch to mitigate nitrous oxide emissions from a poultry litter-amended soil in the subtropics.' Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 228: 1-8.
  • Rose, T. J., P. Quin, S. G. Morris, L. J. Kearney, S. Kimber, M. T. Rose and L. Van Zwieten (2018). 'No evidence for higher agronomic N use efficiency or lower nitrous oxide emissions from enhanced efficiency fertilisers in aerobic subtropical rice.' Field Crops Research 225: 47-54.

Total publications


Conference Publication

(6 outputs)
2019Quin P, Holzel N, Swarts N, 'More profit from nitrogen: nitrogen use in commercial cherry orchards', More Profit from Nitrogen Partner Forum, 4-7 September 2019, Gold Coast, Queensland (2019) [Plenary Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Holzel N; Swarts N

2019Quin P, Holzel N, Swarts N, 'More profit from nitrogen: nitrogen use in commercial cherry orchards', Australian Fertiliser Industry Conference, 5-6 September 2019, Gold Coast, Queensland (2019) [Plenary Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Holzel N; Swarts N

2019Quin P, Swarts N, Holzel N, Close D, 'More profit from nitrogen: nitrogen use in commercial cherry orchards', Fruit Growers Tasmania Cherry Workshop, 19 September 2019, Somercotes Cherries, Tasmania (2019) [Plenary Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Swarts N; Holzel N; Close D

2019Quin PR, Swarts ND, Oliver G, Paterson SC, Friendl J, et al., 'Nitrogen use in commercial cherry orchards', Soil Science Australia, National Soils Conference, 18-23rd November 2018, Melbourne (2019) [Plenary Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Swarts ND; Oliver G; Paterson SC

2018Swarts N, Quin P, Holzel N, Close D, 'Optimising nutrient management in cherries', Rural Research and Development for Profit, More Profit from Nitrogen Partner Forum, July 2018, Darwin, Australia, pp. 1-23. (2018) [Plenary Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Swarts N; Holzel N; Close D

2017Swarts N, Quin P, Holzel N, Close D, 'Optimising nutrient management in cherries', Invited plenary presentation for the Rural Research and Development for Profit, More Profit from Nitrogen Partner Forum, August 2017, Coolangatta, pp. 1-14. (2017) [Plenary Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Swarts N; Holzel N; Close D

Other Public Output

(5 outputs)
2019Holzel N, Quin P, Swarts N, 'Research Project Updates: Summer days give way to laboratory daze', Nitrogen Natters, CRDC, 9 April 2019 (2019) [Internal Newsletter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Holzel N; Swarts N

2019Holzel N, Quin P, Swarts ND, 'Sweet results of research', The Mercury, News Corp Australia, Hobart, Australia, 5 April 2019, pp. 28-28. (2019) [Newspaper Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Holzel N; Swarts ND

2019Holzel N, Quin PR, Swarts ND, 'Would you like your cherries peeled?', Nitrogen Matters, 8, January (2019) [Internal Newsletter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Holzel N; Swarts ND

2019Swarts N, Holzel N, Quin P, 'Nitrogen Natters', Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, Hobart, Tasmania, 10, pp. 1-2. (2019) [Internal Newsletter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Swarts N; Holzel N

2018Holzel N, Quin PR, Swarts ND, 'Plant litter, foliar nutrients and a whole lot of diggin'!', Nitrogen Natters, October (2018) [Magazine Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Holzel N; Swarts ND

Currently supervising one Honours student who is examining the effect of different timings of nitrogen application to cherry trees on photosynthesis and the related production and storage of carbohydrates.