Dr Roya Khalil

Director of Research and Development, Incitec Pivot Fertilisers

Dr Roya Khalil is an accomplished business leader with over 19 years of experience in R&D and innovation management across diverse industries, including FMCG, Dairy, Chemicals, and Agriculture. Qualified with a bachelor’s degree, a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and an MBA specializing in strategic innovation, she has held key positions with industry leaders such as Incitec Pivot Limited, Orora Packaging, Bega Cheese, Coca Cola Amatil, SPC Ardmona, and Plantic Technologies delivering several commercialised patented technologies.

Currently, as the Director of Research and Development at Incitec Pivot Fertilisers, Roya leads the R&D function, focusing on developing enhanced efficiency fertilizers, recycled nutrient-bio based fertilizers, soil health technologies, greenhouse gas emissions benchmarking, and mitigation strategies for the benefit of Australian growers. She actively contributes to cutting-edge research and commercialization as a Partner Investigator at the ARC research hub for smart fertilizers at the University of Melbourne. Additionally, as an Industry Advisor at the ARC research Hub for nutrients in the circular economy, Roya is committed to promoting sustainable practices and driving innovations fostering the reuse of nutrients from waste aligned with principles of circular economy.

Roya’s expertise extends to co-supervision of PhD students and guest lecturing for Master and Bachelor of Food Engineering at Monash University, RMIT University, and UNSW. She has also been involved as a researcher in numerous programs, including CRC-polymers for biopolymers, Dairy Innovation Australia, and the Australia-China Joint Resource Centre with Monash University.

With a comprehensive understanding of the entire food supply chain gained through her diverse career, Roya is dedicated to developing integrated solutions and contribute to a more sustainable and innovative future for the industry.


Biofertilisers and Enhanced Efficiency Fertilisers – Solutions for the Future

The rising costs of fertilisers, disruptions in supply chains due to COVID-19 and global conflicts, and a focus on soil health have led to increased interest among growers in using alternative inputs for improved cropping systems. Recycled organics derived from intensive livestock operations and food waste contain valuable nutrients and organic matter, which can enhance soil characteristics, increase crop productivity, reduce reliance on inorganic fertilisers, and promote resilient farming systems. The Incitec Pivot Fertilisers’ (IPF) Australia biofertilisers (ABF) is made with a sterilised and dried organic waste materials from poultry sheds, combined with inorganic chemicals, resulting in organo-mineralgranules that provide necessary nutrients, organic matter, and labile carbons in a single granule.

ABF technology is one example of efficient waste recycling where most of the nutrient & carbon are retained from the waste as opposed to being lost to the atmosphere as greenhouse gases in alignment with the principles of circular economy.  The main barriers to adoption are the high capital cost of building in Australia and the cost of renewable energy to run the process. Similar challenges are faced by other emerging technologies such as green ammonia.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity for farmers is to adopt inhibitors which can minimise gaseous and leaching losses from existing nitrogen fertilisers. Nitrogen fertilisers are essential to crop production, but more than half of the fertiliser applied to crops is lost due to leaching or volatilisation.

The IPF inhibitors can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% from fertilisers and in some cases allow rate reduction without impacting yield and quality of produce.

IPF conducted a study comparing their patented technologies of biofertilisers and nitrification inhibitors with standard farming practices for celery cultivation in East Victoria, demonstrating similar crop yields, reduced emissions and providing application efficiency.