About Us

Our mission is to introduce farmers to biological farming with the view of improving soil health and productivity giving them a sustainable future while raising standards of environmental awareness, encouraging debate in alternative and more sustainable farming methods and generating innovative ideas for the long-term health of our planet for future generations.
Agpath is a small soil biology company providing laboratory testing in many fields of fungal and microbial pathology and farming consulting services in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, environment air and water and food manufacturing. It was founded by Dr Mary Cole in 1980, a well known academic and plant pathologist and nationally and internationally recognised expert in the management of the fungal pathogen, Botrytis cinerea. The laboratory provides services in water and soil testing for microbial analysis; validates commercial biological products; provides expert witness statements; whole farm planning management procedures; runs workshops on organic and biological farming methods; Agpath works with other experts in biological agriculture such as Dr Maartin Stapper and Dr Elaine Ingham, and others in informing and educating the community in biological farming and sustainable agriculture.

Meet our Team



Mary is a Worldwide Branding Professional of the Year – 2015-2016
representing Farming and Agriculture – in recognition for her exemplary leadership qualities & unwavering dedication to her profession.

Dr Mary Cole is a well-known academic, plant pathologist and soil microbiologist who provides instruction and workshops/courses in biological non-chemical/sustainable agricultural farming practices to farmers, students, and consultants around the world. As an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne she supervises PhD students and her lab, Agpath P/L, provides summer vacation experience in soil microbiology and composting for graduates of Victorian and interstate universities.

Professional Biography

Download Professional Biography and current CV


  • PhD in plant pathology from Monash University carried out at Monash University, South Australian Dept of Primary Industries & UCLA, Davis, California.
  • Lectures in plant pathology, in particular, grape vine diseases, but agricultural and environmental pathology in general; microbiology of soil and biological/organic and biodynamic principles including the soil food web.
  • 1994 to present: Academic at Charles Sturt University, Monash University and University of Melbourne.
  • 1999 appointed foundation director for Centre of Wine, Food & Agribusiness in Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University.
  • 2006 appointed to Faculty of Land & Food Resources at University of Melbourne – involved in postgraduate distance mode to national and international students.
  • 2009 continuing part time lecturing in Diplomas of Viticulture and Oenology for Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.
  • 2009 continuing part time lecturing in Faculty of Medicine, Monash University.
  • 2010 continuing coordinating and lecturing in a professional development subject with Dr Elaine Ingham of Soil Foodweb Institute USA.
  • Ag Institute Australia Accredited Charted Agriculturist – CAg


  • Recognised as national and international leader in research into the plant pathogen, Botrytis cinerea, the fungus that causes rot of grapes, flowers and many vegetables.
  • Contributes papers to national and international journals.
  • Has chaired and participated in national and international conferences and symposia in plant pathology.
  • International referee for Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. ACS Publications.


  • Has a research-consulting laboratory with 2 staff.
  • Can carry out water testing, any plant disease identification and identification of fungi; quality assurance, label rate validation; research projects in agriculture, horticulture and biological post-harvest crop protection, soil biology health.
  • Expert witness statements for courts and VCAT.
  • Integrated Pest and Disease Management workshops for wine industry.

Public interest:

  • 20 years an Honourary Consultant to the Victorian Poisons Information Centre on mushroom poisoning and identification.
  • Involvement in Landcare and alternative farming practices.
  • Public speaking to professional, farming and community groups

Member of the Australian Institute of Agriculture Science & Technology


Alan Cole OAM

Alan completed 30 years of public service in 1995 in the animal health and pasture research fields retiring as Sustainability Officer for the Port Phillip Region, Victoria.

Always active in community service, Alan remains involved in environmental issues including not-for-profit enterprises such as Aged Care and Landcare and Community banking.

Alan was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2007 for services to Aged Care and Landcare in the Shire of Cardinia. More recently in 2010 he was awarded a Bass Electorate Community Service Award.
Alan’s is also involved in alternative farming practices providing farmers with options other than conventional practices resulting in quality production, reduced input costs, improved soil health, and long term protection of the land.


Heli Thaw BSc

Laboratory Technician

Heli has run her own business for over 20 years, whilst raising a family of 3 children.

In 2011 she completed her Bachelor of Science degree at Monash University, Gippsland campus with a major in Biochemistry and minor in IT. During her time at Monash she was involved in a work placement program enabling students to receive work experience whilst completing their degrees. Heli had the opportunity to work with Agpath Pty Ltd during this program and now is working part time learning techniques that apply to the varied work that comes through the laboratory.

She was also involved with a Landcare Project conducted by the Westernport Catchment Landcare Network of Victoria, ‘Healthy Soils, Stock and Pasture – analysing productivity and practises’. This project was developed in response to the need to increase understanding of soils, fertilisers and pasture health, and to provide some guidance to beef and dairy farmers on the interactions between different fertilisers, soil health and pasture productivity. She was co-author of the booklet produced for this project.

She is now looking forward to the bright future of Agpath Pty Ltd and assisting in providing agricultural pathology and environmental farming services to the farming community.

Anita - head shot

Anita Chudleigh Dip. T. Primary, B. App. Sc

Laboratory Technician

  • Graduated from Monash University Gippsland 1991 Diploma of Teaching (primary) and in 1997 with a Bachelor of Applied Science; majoring in Microbiology and Biochemistry as well as the biological sciences.
  • While studying Microbiology I was first introduced to the study of fungi, (Mycology), and I was hooked.
  • During studies at Monash, was employed in the Applied Science Resource Centre as laboratory technician
  • Following graduation, was employed at Murray Goulburn in Leongatha as the Diagnostic Technician, this involved the testing of raw milk to determine causes of high bacterial loads which reduced milk quality. Liaised with Field officers who worked directly with dairy farmers
  • In 2002 after 6 months doing Casual Relief Teaching, I returned to Monash, first as a laboratory technician and then as Sessional Academic, taking classes in Microbiology and some Anatomy and Physiology for nursing students
  • Started at AGPATH mid-2012
  • Have always had an interest in organic and permaculture approaches to gardening, and apply these methods to my own growing of food crops, working at AGPATH is extending my knowledge in this field and; I get to play with fungi! At the same time it also complements the work that I do as a Sessional at Monash.
  • Am involved in Land care but only on a very small level as I am also a CFA volunteer fire fighter.