Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

CSU Graduation: Research in the Mekong Delta

Graham Centre graduate Mr David Gale's research took him to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam to investigate composting of acid sulfate soils to boost crop production and food security in this developing country.

Mr Gale will be awarded a Master of Philosophy in a ceremony at CSU in Wagga Wagga on Monday 10 December.

"Vietnam has a land area less than half the size of NSW but a population of 95 million," Mr Gale said. "Acid sulfate soils are common in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam where mangroves have been cleared to expand the land area planted to crops.

"These soils become extremely acidic on drying (pH <4), inducing aluminium toxicity and phosphorus deficiency which limit crop growth.

"The research evaluated the impact of different composted materials, coffee skin compost from Da Lat (Lam Dong province), cow manure compost from Can Tho and sugarcane filtercake compost from Vi Thanh (Hau Giang province) to alleviate these problems."

Supported by a 2014 Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Outgoing Postgraduate Scholarship Mr Gale spent 18 months at Can Tho University in the south of Vietnam carrying out field and laboratory experiments.

"I led a team of six undergraduate students and a Masters student in the project which presented many capacity building opportunities," Mr Gale said.

"The research found the compost made from the locally sourced bi-product of sugarcane processing decreased aluminium and increased available phosphorus concentrations resulting in increased corn yield for growers in Vietnam."

Mr Gale's research is available here.