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Land and Water Divisions

The Division of Land and Water had its origins in four strands:

  • the Commonwealth Citrus Research Station
  • the Northern Australian Regional Survey Section
  • the Murray River Soil Investigation Unit which became the Division of Soils
  • the Agricultural Physics Section of the Division of Plant Industry

The Commonwealth Citrus Research Station was established in 1924 and came under the control of the newly created CSIR in 1927, changing its name to the Commonwealth Research Station, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. It was renamed the Irrigation Research Station in 1939. In 1961 it was renamed again becoming the Irrigation Research Laboratory. In 1967 the Laboratory gained divisional status, becoming the Division of Irrigation Research. In 1982, the Division returned once again to being a research centre, and was renamed the Centre for Irrigation Research which in 1987 underwent another name change, to the Centre for Irrigation and Freshwater Research. The Centre for Irrigation and Freshwater Research had a short history and after less than a year of operation it was incorporated into the Division of Water Resources in 1988.

The Northern Australian Regional Survey Section was established as a section of the Division of Plant industry in 1946. It became independent and renamed the Land Research and Regional Survey Section in 1950. It gained Divisional status in 1957, becoming the Division of Land Research and Regional Survey. After eight years of operations, the Division was renamed, becoming the Division of Land Research in 1965.

In February 1962, the Coastal Plains Research Station, Darwin became independent from the Division of Land Research and Regional Survey and remained that way for five years. In July 1967 the position of Officer-in-Charge, Coastal Plains Research Station, Darwin was abandoned and the station became part of the Division of Land Research.

In March 1973 the Division of Land Research split to form two divisions: the Division of Land Assessment and the Division of Land Resources Management. One month later the Division of Land Assessment was renamed the Division of Land Use Research. In 1982, the Division of Land Use Research was renamed the Division of Water and Land Resources, highlighting the new importance of water research.

The CSIR Murray River Soil Investigation Unit was established in CSIR in 1927. In 1929 it was renamed the Division of Soils which survived the change from CSIR to CSIRO in 1949 and remained a separate division until 1997. In 1974, a section of the Division of Soils was incorporated into the Division of Land Resources Management. This Division existed until 1982, when it became the Division of Groundwater Research. In 1987 it was renamed the Division of Water Resources Research.

The Agricultural Physics Section was originally a part of the Division of Plant Industry. It was first established in 1955, and gained Divisional status in 1971, becoming the Division of Environmental Mechanics. In 1987 it was renamed the Centre for Environmental Mechanics and remained as such until 1997 when it became part of the new Division, CSIRO Land and Water.

The Division of Water Resources was formed, in 1988, by the merger of the Division of Water and Land Resources and the Centre for Irrigation and Freshwater Research. In 1989 the Division of Water Resources Research was incorporated into the Division of Water Resources.

The Division of Land and Water was formed in 1997 by the merger of the Division of Water Resources with the Division of Soils and the Centre for Environmental Mechanics.

In 2014, in a major restructuring of CSIRO, the term Division was replaced by the term Flagship for the organization’s operating units and the title Chief replaced by the title Director. The bulk of Division of Land and Water (282 staff) and the bulk of the Division of Ecosystem Sciences (268 staff) were combined with 20 staff from the Division of Earth Science and Resource Engineering to form the Land and Water flagship. The remaining staff from the Division of Land and Water were transferred to the Agriculture Flagship (44 staff) and the Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship (17 staff). In 2015 the term Flagship was dropped.

History of Land and Water Divisions

Land & Water Divisions

Chief of Division/Officer-in-Charge

Division Chief
Murray River Soil Investigation Unit (1927-29) James Arthur Prescott (O-i-C 1927-29)
Soils (1929-1997) James Arthur Prescott (1929-47)
John Kingsley Taylor (1947-63)
Ernest Gordon Hallsworth (1964-71)
Arnold Edward Martin (Acting 1971-72,1973-80)
David E Smiles (1983-93)
John Williams (Acting 1992-93)
Roger S Swift (1993-97)
Commonwealth Research Station, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (1927-39) Eric Stodden West (O-i-C 1927-39)
Irrigation Research Station (1939-61) Eric Stodden West (O-i-C 1939-56)
Eric Ronald Hoare (O-i-C 1958-61)
Irrigation Research Laboratory (1961-67) Eric Stodden West (O-i-C 1961-67)
Division of Irrigation Research (1967-82) Eric Ronald Hoare (1967-77)
Henry Deacon Barrs (Acting (1977-78)
Paul Edward Kriedman (1978-81)
David Searle Mitchell (Acting 1981-82)
Centre for Irrigation Research (1982-87) David Searle Mitchell (O-i-C 1982-87)
Centre for Irrigation and Freshwater Research (1987) David Searle Mitchell (O-i-C 1987)
Environmental Mechanics (1971-87) John Robert Philip (1971-80)
David E Smiles (1981-83)
John Robert Philip (1983-87)
Centre for Environmental Mechanics (1987-97) John Robert Philip (O-i-C 1987-91)
John Joseph Finnigan (O-i-C 1991-97)
Northern Australian Regional Survey Section of the Division of Plant Industry (1946-50) Clifford Stuart Christian (O-i-C 1950-56)
Land Research and Regional Survey Section (1950-56) Clifford Stuart Christian (O-i-C 1950-56)
Land Research and Regional Survey (1957-65) Clifford Stuart Christian (1957-59)
George Alan Stewart (1960-65)
Coastal Plains Research Station, Darwin (1962-67) Raymond William Strickland (O-i-C 1962-63)
Peter Owen (O-i-C 1963-65)
Ernest Clarence Langfield (O-i-C 1965-67)
Land Research (1965-73) George Alan Stewart (1965-73)
Land Assessment (1973)/Land Use Research (1973-82) Richard James Millington (1973-82)
Water and Land Resources (1982-88) Richard James Millington (1982-86)
Land Resources Management (1973-82) Rayden Alfred Perry (1973-82)
Groundwater Research (1982-86) Rayden Alfred Perry (1982-86)
Water Resources Research (1987) Adrian J Peck (Acting 1987)
Water Resources (1988-97) Graham B Allison (1988-95)
Geoffrey Pickup (1995-97)
Land and Water (1997-2014) Graham Harris (1997-2000)
John Williams (2000-02)
Robert Alexander Vertessy (2003-07)
Neil James McKenzie (2007-14)

Sources

• Schedvin CB, Trace K, 1978, Historical Directory of CSIR and CSIRO 1926-1976, CSIRO Publishing. [PDF 1237 KB]

Encyclopedia of Australian Science [external link]

• CSIRO Annual Reports

• CSIRO Communications