E.H. (Ted) Mikhail MSc, BSc Agric., Dip Land Recl. & Improv., Dip Agric Ext. MAIAST MRACI DG

SWEP Founder & Managing Director

Ted Mikhail began his career as an Agronomist in Egypt in 1959, working first in Animal Husbandry and     then in Soil Improvement. While in Egypt, he obtained his first degree in Agriculture at the Cairo University (1959), followed by his Post-graduate Diploma in Soil Science from the University of Alexandria (1966) - sponsored by the Ford Foundation, to study under several of the most eminent soil scientists in the World.

In 1967, Ted came to Australia and began research on improved irrigation methods with the Victoria State Rivers & Water Supply Commission. He then moved to the State Chemistry Laboratory as a research scientist focusing on the relationship between the chemical and physical properties of soils throughout Victoria. During this time, Ted furthered his studies at the University of Melbourne with a Diploma of Agricultural Extension (1975) and a Master of Agriculture (Soil Chemistry & Physics) in 1979. He also authored and co-authored more than sixty bulletins, research papers and reports.

He has been a member of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science & Technology since 1968 and a member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute since 1981.

In 1980 he established SWEP Analytical Laboratories in order to better serve the agricultural community by applying his principles in soil, plant, animals and human relationships to achieve the highest quality in life through our soil. He was then also able to extend his research to soils from around the World. In 1986, this all came together into what we now call “The Mikhail System”.

Since the very beginning, Ted has held strongly to the view that soil is a "Living System" and, as such, healthy soil should have an optimal balance of factors pertaining to each of its three main components - physical structure, plant nutrients and soil biology. Each of these components should be in balance, both in itself and with each of the others. He explains this view by comparing soil to the Human Being (as a more familiar example of a Living System). In this way, the structure of the human body begins with the skeleton (requiring Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus in proper proportions), just as the foundation of soil structure is cation balance (Ca, Mg, Na, K and H).

The skeleton is the framework upon which the tissues and muscle of the body is built (with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat). So too, agricultural productivity is built upon the balanced availability of soil nutrients – Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. But healthy people also need vitamins and minerals. Likewise, crops and pasture need trace elements.

To complete this picture, it must be recognised that people do not live in sterile bubbles, but need the right balance of ‘good bacteria’ to aid digestion and help stave off infection. Similarly, biological balance is required in the soil to help in the cycling of nutrients and protect against pathogens.

This vision of the soil as a Living System has been borne out both by research and field experience and is now recognised Worldwide for its effectiveness and reliability.



Christopher  Panter  B.A.(Hon.),  B.Sc. (Agr.), M.Sc. (Agr.), MASM 

SWEP Microbiologist, SWEP Technical Manager

Chris Panter is a soil microbiologist who took his training at the University of Alberta, Edmonton.  He has a wide and varied background in applied and environmental microbiology.  He spent seven years with CSR Research Laboratories, East Roseville, NSW  as an industrial microbiologist in the sugar industry from 1971-1978.  In 1978-1979 he was a Lecturer in Microbiology at Hawkesbury Agricultural College in Richmond, NSW.  This was followed by a six year  period (1979-1985) as Research Fellow in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Sydney University, working on a WHO funded project on Culicinomyces, a candidate fungal biological control agent for mosquito vectors of disease.  

During 1986-2005 he was Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, of Microbiology in the School of Applied Sciences at Monash University, Gippsland Campus, where he set up microbiology courses in the Applied Biology and Biotechnology majors in the B.Sc. and Nursing programs, teaching in the introductory microbiology units, in the third year units of food and industrial microbiology, medical microbiology, environmental microbiology, and nursing microbiology.

Research interests during these periods were in applied microbiology, particularly in soils, food microbiology, environmental microbiology and industrial microbiology.   Work continued with the mosquitocidal fungus Culicinomyces clavisporus for control of malarial and other disease carrying mosquitoes. Another major interest included investigation of ferric iron reducing bacteria, from the aspects of their role in soil processes and their influence on corrosion of steels in submerged environments. Also investigated were thermophilic bacteria.  This included investigation of extremely thermophilic iron reducing bacteria from Bass Strait oilfields. Another area of thermophile work included investigation of the types and roles of thermophilic bacteria found in pine bark composts.

In 2006 he retired to undertake consultative work in applied microbiology, and retained an adjunct and honorary capacity with Monash, initially with Gippsland Campus, and now at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash Clayton, where he is involved with research both in corrosion microbiology and with formulation of microorganisms for biological control of mosquito larvae.

In 2009 Chris became involved in a consultative capacity with SWEP on their microbiological work.  Since Soil Microbiology is his favourite field of Microbiology, he steadily became more involved over time and joined SWEP as Soil Microbiologist and Technical Manager  in 2011.