Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Winter 2019

Table of Contents

  • From the Acting Director
  • Crunching the numbers on precision variable rate nitrogen
  • Research into new technique for identifying glyphosate residues in the soil
  • Training and tools to monitor salinity in the Mekong Delta
  • Research update: FMD Ready project
  • Pulse focus for visit to Pakistan
  • Inspiring the next generation of ag scientists
  • Contribution to agricultural science honoured
  • Congratulations
  • Charles Sturt wins National Merino Challenge
  • Where in the world
  • In the limelight: John Piltz
  • In the limelight: Sunita Pandey

From the Acting Director

The former Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud recently visited Wagga Wagga and met with scientists at Charles Sturt University and the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation. His message was, ‘Agriculture is sexy again’ and that innovation is Former Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud with Dr John Brosterthe way to grow the industry. He also spoke about the recent Ernst and Young review into agricultural research and development which recommends strengthening the regions to ensure they play a greater role in Australian agricultural innovation, to fully realise its benefits and maximise our innovation uptake. The report also highlights the need for leadership and greater collaboration to deliver cross commodity outcomes.

The Graham Centre is well positioned to contribute to this vision to drive agricultural development to 2030. We are based in one of the biggest regional centres in Australia, we’re committed to capacity building and we’re already working directly with farming systems groups. Our Industry Advisory Panel and Board are supporting us to shape the strategic direction of the Centre and to ensure our research is targeted at solving issues across the value chain. The Graham Centre is also working closely with the Charles Sturt University AgriPark and stakeholders to identify opportunities for greater collaboration.

Graham Centre plant systems research pathway leader, Professor Jim Pratley was recently awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to agricultural science and education. This is well deserved recognition and it was lovely to be able to acknowledge Jim’s achievement with colleagues and friends, you can see some photos from our event later in the newsletter.

I’m also pleased to welcome Mr Jon Medway to the new role of Senior Research Fellow (Precision Agriculture). It’s anticipated this will build the Centre’s profile in precision agriculture and harness the existing capacity amongst Centre members to build a coordinated program of work. We’re also recruiting more administration staff to strengthen the Centre’s capacity to support members.

During the first quarter of the year, it’s been great to see our members discussing opportunities, starting new research projects and progressing current ones, publishing their research and taking part in industry field days and events. The centre is very fortunate to have such a great team of enthusiastic researchers working across agriculture in Australia and internationally.

Over the next few months the Graham Centre is involved in a number of events that will present new research that can be directly applied on farm and I’d encourage you to check out our Livestock Forum on the 26 July, the Agribusiness Today Forum on the 8 - 9 August and the Australian Agronomy Conference 25 - 29 August.

Acting Director, Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover.

photo caption: Former Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud inspects herbicide resistance trials with Dr John Broster during his visit to the Graham Centre.


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Crunching the numbers on precision variable rate nitrogen

Graham Centre agriculture business management researchers have crunched the numbers on precision site-specific nitrogen applications in dryland farming systems in northern Victoria – and found no clear economic benefit from the practice.

The research was carried out in support of a project investigating ‘in-paddock variability’ led by our farming systems group partner Riverine Plains Inc, funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Charles Sturt University Adjunct Associate Professor, Dr Tom Nordblom said,  “In precision variable-rate nitrogen applications (VRN), the idea is to optimise placement of inputs at the right rates; neither too little nor too much in each target area according to selected criteria at the right time for known and expected conditions.”

The research made use of farm physical and financial data from the Yarrawonga and Dookie areas .

Impact in the paddock

figures 1 and 2Dr Nordblom said the research made use of detailed historic geo-referenced field data on crop yields  from 2000 to 2017, growing season rainfalls from the past 56 years and EM38 (electro-magnetic conductance) soil maps, often used to define zones for targeting precision N rates.

“Two farms provided detailed wheat and canola yield records over an 18-year period,” Dr Nordblom said.

“The average yield per hectare from all wheat paddocks on one farm in one year, paired with the growing season rainfall of that year, provided one of 19 data points in Figure 1a. For canola yields in Figure 1b we found 13 such data points.

“In-paddock variability is illustrated in the case of a paddock for which we had detailed yield data that could be expressed as geo-referenced 90 x 90m grid areas over six years including dry and wet seasons (Figures 2 and 3); two grid areas are marked which exhibit opposite yield responses to low and high growing season rainfalls.“We found some of the lowest-yielding grid areas in dry years became the highest in the wet years and vice versa, apparently due to differences in soils and relief (lateral flow and waterlogging).

“Repeatability of the yield rankings was very low, with fewer than 5 per cent of grid areas remaining in the same 25-percentile range of yield in four out of five years,” he said.

“Because yields are most limited by growing season rainfall, which cannot fully be known until late in the season, EM38 zoning alone will not always be a reliable guide to yield potentials.”

Impact on the bottom line

The study also simulated the long-term effects of VRN on the financial equity of hypothetical farms, with analysis of both the price and weather risks over time.

“We wanted to take the analysis of VNR a step further in a whole farm risk analysis accounting for variations in weather and prices, as well as spatial variations in farm soils. We also considered all costs including the cumulative effects of interest over time,” Dr Nordblom said.

“Based on our initial results for the Yarrawonga and Dookie area of northern Victoria, VRN needs to increase crop yields by less than one per cent, or reduce costs of N applied by at least 70 per cent, to break-even over time.

“We found that because rainfall was the key driver of productivity in the dryland farming system of the study area, there was no clear economic benefit of VRN.”

The analysis also compared two modelling scenarios, a low-cost farm and a high-cost farm.

“A low-cost farm, beginning with no debt and assuming no further benefits of VRN, showed no risk of loss over random decades drawn from the past 56 years of weather records.

“However, a high-cost farm already facing a 41 per cent risk of loss, could find its risk of loss increased to 44 per cent with the additional costs of VRN,” Dr Nordblom said.

The study titled ‘Financial analysis of variable-rate Nitrogen (VRN) in the Riverine Plains Region’ is by Dr Tom Nordblom and Dr Sosheel Godfrey from Charles Sturt University, Dr Tim Hutchings from Meridian Agriculture and Dr Cassandra Schefe, Research Co-ordinator, Riverine Plains Inc.

It was a selected paper at the annual conference of agricultural economists and policymakers in Australasia, AARES 2019 in Melbourne. Read it here:

The researchers also want to acknowledge the help of  Mr Craig Poynter from the Charles Sturt GIS & Remote Sensing, Spatial Data Analysis Network (SPAN).


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Research into new technique for identifying glyphosate residues in the soil

Graham Centre research has investigated a new technique to help identify biologically available residues of the herbicide glyphosate in the soil.

Dr Ehsan TabakkoliThe collaborative project involving the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), University of South Australia, Monash University and Griffith University is based on the diffusive gradient in thin-films (DGT).

The research was led by NSW DPI research scientist, Dr Ehsan Tavakkoli.

Dr Tavakkoli says this test can help industry understand factors that increase the risk of glyphosate residue when they are planning to sow crops.

“Glyphosate is widely used for controlling weeds in our cropping systems. Where glyphosate reaches the ground, it binds to the soil inactivating it,” Dr Tavakkoli said.

“But in certain soils or under particular environmental conditions residue of the chemical remains in the soil and can potentially affect the establishment and performance of subsequent grain or pasture legumes.

“Up until now, assessing the risk to plants from soil residues of glyphosate has been difficult,” Dr Tavakkoli said.

“The research will help improve our understanding of the bioavailability of glyphosate and may ultimately help growers make decisions about planting crops on soil where residues are at concentrations that may damage the planted crop.”

The research tested the technique using four contrasting cropping soils and its ability to predict residue impacts on wheat and lupins.

The research was funded by a Graham Centre New Initiative Grant and NSW DPI.

The research, ‘Assessing plant-available glyphosate in contrasting soils by diffusive gradient in thin films technique (DGT)’ by Dr Zhe Weng, Dr Michael Rose, Dr Ehsan Tavakkoli, Dr Lukas van Zwieten, Mr Gavin Styles, Dr William Bennet and Professor Enzo Lombi has been published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.


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Training and tools to monitor salinity in the Mekong Delta

The team in Vietnam:Dr Rajneet Uppal,  Brooke Kaveney, Jason Condon, Associate Professor Ed Barrett-Lennard and Dr Susan Orgill Providing the knowledge and equipment needed to collect the data to monitor salinity was the focus of recent workshops by Graham Centre scientists in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

Recently a project in Vietnam supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and led by Graham Centre Senior Research Fellow (Soils) Jason Condon, identified an urgent need to support Vietnamese Agricultural Department staff to build capacity to measure and monitor soil salinity in the Mekong Delta.

“Soil salinity is becoming an increasingly significant risk for farmers in the Delta due to salinity intrusion from the ocean as sea levels rise and river flows decrease,” Dr Condon said.

With financial support from the NSW and WA committees of the Crawford The workshop provided trainingFund an Australian training team travelled to Vietnam in March to conducted training workshops in four provinces of the Delta.

Graham Centre members Jason Condon, Charles Sturt and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Charles Sturt PhD candidate Brooke Kaveney, Dr Susan Orgill and Dr Rajneet Uppal NSW DPI shared their expertise, along with Murdoch University salinity specialist Associate Professor Ed Barrett-Lennard.

“We worked with long term collaborators from Can Tho University to train 145 staff, advisors and leading farmers,” Dr Condon said.

“The workshops covered the effects of salinity on plants, possible soil management to mitigate salinity, measurement of soil salinity and the use of an app to georeference and log salinity data.

“Importantly the training participants were allocated the equipment to record data from their farmers’ fields so that the problem of salinity can be monitored and managed.”

This training was a pilot of a larger training program which will be part of a new ACIAR project led by the Graham Centre in Vietnam.


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Research update: FMD Ready project

The recent finding of fragments of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus in confiscated meat samples at Australian airports demonstrates the relevance of the work of the FMD Ready multidisciplinary research project.

Four sub-projects make up the FMD Ready project and include making sure Australia has access to the correct FMD strain vaccines, demonstrating the value of farmer-led partnerships in animal health surveillance, improving outbreak modelling capability and developing tools that would assist in determining how farm-to-farm spread is occurring.

Our role

Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover and Dr Jennifer ManyweathersThe Graham Centre is involved in the Farmer-led Surveillance sub-project undertaken by a team of researchers from CSIRO, Charles Sturt University and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The subproject has been running five pilot groups within FMD susceptible industries in Australia: beef, pork, sheep, dairy and goat. These groups are developing innovative solutions to problems, identified within the groups, around surveillance and animal health management. Some of these solutions include teaming up with the local abattoir and a software company to improve producer feedback from the abattoirs, post mortem and sampling workshops and creating networks within previously fragmented industry sectors.

The sub-project has also developed a predictive Bayesian Network Model based on producer vulnerability to an FMD outbreak. With great contributions by producers across livestock industries about on farm practice and beliefs, the model might help decide how surveillance resources are allocated. Testing of the model will be underway in the second half of this year.

Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover, who leads the Graham Centre team working in this project, said early detection of diseases like FMD is key for minimising the impact of these diseases on people’s livelihoods and the country’s economy.

“Working with farmers and other animal health stakeholders, investigating ways on how to improve early detection is crucial for finding feasible and sustainable solutions,” said Professor Hernandez-Jover.

Regular project updates can be found on Animal Health Australia’s Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the Project you can also visit

The Project is supported by Meat & Livestock Australia, through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural Research & Development for Profit program, and by producer levies from Australian FMD-susceptible livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) industries and Charles Sturt University (CSU), leveraging significant in-kind support from the research partners.

The research partners for this project are CSIRO, Charles Sturt  through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, supported by Animal Health Australia.


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Pulse focus for visit to Pakistan

the team visiting a field site in PakistanGraham Centre researchers, Professor Chris Blanchard, Associate Professor Gavin Ramsay and Dr Ata-ur Rehman attended the 1st Australia-Pakistan International Conference on Pulses for Food Security in March.

The visit was part of the project that aims to increase the productivity and profitability of pulses in Pakistan, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

The conference was hosted by the Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture, in Multan and saw national and international researchers present their work on lentil, chickpea and other pulses.

Pulses seminar and meeting with all the participating farmers at project site 5, Larkana, Sindh provinceThe opening ceremony was attended by Dr Rehman, who spoke about the current pulses scenario and the impact of the ACIAR Pulses project, while Professor Blanchard and Professor Ramsay also chaired sessions of the conference.

While in Pakistan the team also visited project field sites in Bhakkar and Larkana, in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh respectively.

Professor Blanchard said, “It was great to have the opportunity to speak with farmers who told us that our project is already having a positive impact on pulse production in the area.”

The visit to Bhakkar also included the Arid Zone Research Institute to see breeding and agronomy field trials.


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Inspiring the next generation of ag scientists

High school students now have a greater understanding of our research in biosecurity, herbicide resistance, parasitology and meat science after taking part in hands-on activities at the Graham Centre’s annual Science and Agriculture Enrichment Day.

On Friday 31 May the Centre hosted 100 students from Wagga Wagga High School, Kooringal High School, Mater Dei Catholic College, Kildare Catholic College and The Riverina Anglican College.

Acting Graham Centre Director, Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover said, “One of the Graham Centre’s goals is increase the capacity of agriculture to innovate,  we do that by training graduates but also by showcasing what we do to a future generation of scientists.

"Our aim is that the Science and Agriculture Enrichment Day will show these young people how they can be part of the future of primary industries and lead innovation for the future.”

Aside from showcasing research the practical workshops also gave the high school students an insight into diversity of careers in agriculture, the pathways to study and the role of scientists in the development of profitable and sustainable primary industries.

We are looking forward to doing it all again when students from Scots College in Albury, Billabong High School, Yanco Agricultural High School, Finley High School, Deniliquin High School, Albury High School and Hay War Memorial High School visit us later in June.


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Contribution to agricultural science honoured

Professor Jim Pratley and wife MarionCharles Sturt University Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in an official ceremony at Government House in Sydney but  we couldn’t let the occasion pass without raising a toast of our own.

Farmers, politicians, former students and colleagues came together in May to recognise Professor Pratley's award and his service to agricultural science through roles as an educator, researcher and advisor.

Read more about Professor Pratley's Australia Day Honour here.


: Dr John Angus, Stockinbingal, PhD student Jhoana Opena, Dr Hanwen Wu NSW DPI, Dr Andrew Sanger Director Invasive Plants and Animals NSW DPI and Chairman of the Graham Centre BoardDr John Angus, Stockinbingal, PhD student Jhoana Opena, Dr Hanwen Wu NSW DPI, Dr Andrew Sanger Director Invasive Plants and Animals NSW DPI and Chairman of the Graham Centre Board


Marion Pratley, Helen Willett and former Charles Sturt Chancellor Lawrie Willett 'Currawang' near Goulburn, Professor Deirdre LemerleMarion Pratley, Helen Willett and former Charles Sturt Chancellor Lawrie Willett 'Currawang' near Goulburn, Professor Deirdre Lemerle


Charles Sturt Director of Research Associate Professor Jason White, Graham Centre Director Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover, Associate Professor Bruce Allworth,Mr  Scott Hansen Director General NSW DPICharles Sturt Director of Research Associate Professor Jason White, Graham Centre Director Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover, Associate Professor Bruce Allworth,Mr  Scott Hansen Director General NSW DPI


Gordon Murray, Wagga Mayor Greg Conkey, AgriFutures Australia Chair Kay Hull, Emeritus Professor Ted WolfeGordon Murray, Wagga Mayor Greg Conkey, AgriFutures Australia Chair Kay Hull, Emeritus Professor Ted Wolfe.


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Welcome new Graham Centre student interns

2019 Graham Centre interns and mentorsThere’s nothing like hands-on experience to provide insight into the life of an agricultural researcher and for six Charles Sturt University students a Graham Centre internship is providing just that.

Our new interns, Patrick Anderson, Iqra Kahn, Lily Tenhave, lena Schwarz, Ryan Malone and Jack Maloney have recently begun the eight-month program.

They’ll be mentored by Graham Centre scientists and the aim is to help them develop practical research skills and raise awareness of our research pathways and the potential Honours and post graduate projects.

It’s part of our commitment to train graduates to increase the capacity of grain and red meat industries to innovate.

Over the past ten years the Graham Centre has supported more than 40 student interns, with many subsequently undertaking Honours and postgraduate research.

Research with impact for Australian farmers and developing countries

The impact of research by the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation for farmers and the wider community is demonstrated in a new Australian Government report.

Two Charles Sturt University projects undertaken through the Graham Centre are listed in the top 250 impact case studies in the  Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018–19 National Report prepared by the Australian Research Council.

Graham Centre research as part of the national EverGraze project showed it was possible to significantly increase the profitability of livestock enterprises while reducing ground water recharge and soil loss, by better matching pastures to the environment and farming systems.

Professor Geoff Gurr’s research has examined ecological tactics to reduce losses in a variety of crops from rice, to cotton and pine plantations.

The Graham Centre has also contributed to Charles Sturt's at world standard or above (ERA ranking 3 or above) in Veterinary Sciences (ERA 4); Animal Production (ERA 3); and Crop and Pasture Production (ERA 3); in the Australian Research Council's (ARC) Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2018 outcomes.


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Charles Sturt wins National Merino Challenge

Kayla Kopp, Mitch Rubie, Pat Crawley, Karissa De Belle image by AWICharles Sturt University students have out-classed the competition to be named the top tertiary team in the 2019 National Merino Challenge (NMC).

The NMC is an initiative of Australian Wool Innovation to provide young people with an understanding of the career opportunities within the sheep and wool industries.

Over two days in Sydney more than 160 students took part in events to test their skills in areas such as feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives,  wool harvesting and commercial classing of animals and fleeces.

The Graham Centre was pleased to sponsor the Charles Sturt team to support the development of the next generation of sheep and wool industry leaders.

Fourteen Charles Sturt students took part in the competition, with the highest four scores taken into consideration in the tertiary challenge.

The four highest scoring students, Mr Patrick Crawley, Ms Karissa De Belle, Ms Kayla Kopp and Mr Mitch Rubie claimed first prize (pictured above- image supplied by AWI).

Mr Crawley was also named the individual tertiary student champion in the competition.

Kayla Kopp and Susan RobertsonCharles Sturt PhD candidate Ms Kayla Kopp said it was an honour to be part of the winning team.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our knowledge of the sheep industry, talk with other university and school students, and network with people from the industry,” Ms Kopp said. “Winning was a bonus.”

The team was trained by Charles Sturt lecturer in animal production and science, and member of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Dr Susan Robertson and Ms Lexi Cesnick from Moses & Son.

“One of the key benefits of the National Merino Challenge is that it gives students from all backgrounds and levels of experience the opportunity to learn more about sheep and wool, and to be able to participate in a very supportive environment,” Dr Robertson said.

“Those students who involve themselves demonstrate a commitment to learning and enthusiasm for the industry, and Charles Sturt was proud to have 14 students wanting to test themselves this year.”

The Charles Sturt National Merino Challenge teamRepresenting Charles Sturt in the competition: Ms Joanna Balcombe, Mr Jake Bourlet, Mr Patrick Crawley, Ms Karissa de Belle, Ms Kayla Kopp, Ms Johanna McAuliffe, Ms Hannah Metcalfe, Ms Rachel Moon, Mr Liam Norrie, Ms Bridget Parkman, Mr Josh Robinson, Mr Mitchell Rubie, Mr Baylee Stapleton and Ms Lisa Suzuki.

The Charles Sturt team was sponsored by the Graham Centre, the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences, Lachlan Merinos, Moses & Son, the NSW Stud Merino Breeders Association, TA Field Estates Pty Ltd, The Rural Centre Orange-Molong-Manildra, and Riverina Wool Testers.


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Where in the world

Soil CRC participants come together

Associate Professor Catherine Allan at the conferenceThe inaugural Participants Conference for the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC) was held in Newcastle in April.

Associate Professor Catherine Allan said, “The Conference was attended by over 100 delegates- importantly a mix of farming groups, agency and academic people, all passionate about good soil management, but each bringing unique skills and perspectives to the topic.”

The CRC is now fully operational, with 24 projects currently underway or about to start. Charles Sturt University, and the Graham Centre, is well represented in the CRC in many of these projects.

Presenting research to district vets

Ms Forough AtaollahiGraham Centre member and NSW Department of Primary Industries Research Officer in animal health and welfare, Ms Forough Ataollahi, attended 2019 District Veterinarian conference held in Newcastle in April.

She presented a poster on her PhD research ‘Effect of maternal calcium and magnesium supplementation on immune, energy and plasma mineral responses of Merino ewes and their lambs’.

Ms Ataollahi said, “The conference was a great opportunity to present and network on research and development opportunities in animal health and welfare”.

Building research capacity

A number of young Graham Centre researchers took part in a workshop hosted by The Crawford Fund and Researchers in participants at the workshopAgriculture for International Development (RAID) that aimed to build the capacity of the next generation of agricultural research leaders.

PhD student Nancy Saji said, "The workshop provided a great opportunity to improve existing leadership and management skills through a series of seminar style presentations, group discussions and fun activities.

"Some of the key objectives addressed in this workshop included self-evaluation, people management skills, conflict management, time management strategies and effective ways to evaluate, plan and manage projects.

"More importantly, it was a great opportunity to network with a wide cohort of people and hear about updates and developments in the agricultural industry from both an Australian and international perspective."

Extension and communication to boost pulses

Graham Centre member, Mr Phil Bowden is the project leader for Northern Pulse Check, part of an initiative funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to support the growth and development of the Australian pulse industry.

Marrar Pulse Check GroupLocally, Pulse Check groups run by FarmLink Research at Marrar and by Riverine Plains Inc at Rand have been well attended by farmers, advisors and others involved in the value chain for pulses.

“Growing pulses has benefits in cropping and mixed farming systems, but there are many issues that need to be discussed so farmers can be more confident about the value of pulses,” Mr Bowden said.  “These groups are based on fair and open discussion so that everyone can benefit from being in the group and we want to see the groups develop the capacity of farmers and advisors’ access to the latest information about pulses.”

Pictured is the Marrar Pulse Check Group in some spring sown chickpeas.

Find out more here

Talking parasites in Paris

Graham Centre member, Associate Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi, has presented a seminar titled ‘What Would A Worm Know? A tale of Anisakid Nematods in antipodean waters'  at the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The presentation focused on a group of parasites known as anisakids in Australian and New Caledonian waters. These parasites are among the most abundant species in the ocean and can infect almost any aquatic and aquatic associated invertebrate and vertebrate including humans.


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In the limelight: John Piltz

John PiltzPosition:  Livestock Research Officer


NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)

Career Brief

John Piltz joined NSW DPI in 1985 as a technical officer working in ruminant nutrition and forage conservation. In 1993 he gained a Master of Rural Science from the University of New England for his thesis titled ‘Digestibility of Australian Maize Silages’. Prior to his current appointment, from 2003 to 2005, he was National Coordinator of the ‘TopFodder Silage’ program.

Research and Teaching Activities and Interests

Research activities

Feed evaluation research including evaluation of new legume species and cereal based forage crops, and new feed testing methods; the role for conserved forage to improve livestock production and whole farm productivity with special emphasis on the mixed farming zone; and the use of forage conservation, especially silage, to control weeds.

Teaching activities

Recently supervised Ms Wang Li and Ms Xiangba Zhouga during their postgraduate (Masters) studies at Charles Sturt University. Currently co-supervisor of
Charles Sturt PhD student Mr Shoaib Tufail.

Professional Links

Member, and previous chairman, of the Australian Fodder Industry Association’s Quality Evaluation Committee.

A typical day for me includes…

Watering the plants in my office while the computer boots up, checking (deleting) emails, checking field sites/harvesting, working at the animal house with most time spent working on and writing up data.

My main project at the moment is …

An Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) supported project ‘Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region, China’ which includes a substantial research component at Wagga Wagga. This includes field trials to evaluate cereal and cereal/vetch forage crops for hay and silage production, an animal house experiment investigating the feed quality of cereal silages produced from barley and oats, and determining the response to lucerne silage in steers fed barley straw ad lib.  A complementary study, supported by AgriFutures Australia is evaluating triticale/pea forage crops for hay and silage.

My favourite part of my job is …

Talking with other staff over morning or afternoon tea.

When I am not in the office I like …

Getting out to the paddock to look around at sheep, cattle, pastures and forage crops.

When I am driving I like to listen to …

ABC radio, music from the 70s and 80s


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In the limelight: Sunita Pandey

Sunita PandeySupervisors:

Professor Geoff M. Gurr, Dr Raman Anantanarayanan, Dr Azizur Rahman

Thesis title:

Habitat management using native Australian plants to deliver pest suppression and other ecosystem services in brassica crops.

Career Studies til now:

I completed my Bachelor and Master in Agriculture Science (major Entomology) from Tribhuban University, Nepal. Following completion of my Master’s degree, I worked as a research associate in a project implementing ecological approaches of pest management for enhancing sustainable potato production of resource-poor farmers in mountainous regions of south-West Central Asia with the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC).

I was also a part-time lecturer in the course “Integrated pest management in vegetable and fruit crops” at the Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (HICAST) in Kathmandu Nepal. Then I joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal as a plant protection officer (currently on study leave). I am now in the fourth year of my PhD.

Currently studying:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) through the School of Agricultural and Wine Science, Charles Sturt University in Orange.

Research Interests

My interests are within agriculture entomology focusing on sustainable crop protection. My current research is on ecological pest management through conservation biological control (habitat management) but I am also interested in other approaches that will benefit the environment and people, along with crop protection.

A typical day for me includes…..

Most mornings (when not tired from field and lab work) I wake up and do some exercise - walking and jogging with my husband. I get my daughter ready for school (always in a rush) but so far she has not had to fill in the late form.

Currently, I am working with two manuscripts, as I am nearly finished my PhD. My day ends with dinner, chatting with my family, friends and relatives, peeping social media and of course playing with my daughter.

My main project at the moment is:

I have finished my field and lab work and I am currently analysing data and writing manuscripts. I am also preparing for my thesis so I can submit on time.

My favourite part of my studies is…

A favourite part of my studies is writing manuscripts because I’m excited to be analysing data, concluding results, working with the language structure of my manuscript, reading others papers and hoping for acceptance of the paper. All these things makes me more motivated and I forget all the hard work I did in the field (facing scorching sunny days) and in the lab (standing the whole day).

When I am not studying I like to…

I enjoy gardening, although I am in a rented house, but luckily I have a small patch where I plant green leafy veggies and herbs. I also like surfing the internet, listening to podcasts and watching TV shows.

When I am driving I like to listen to …

Radio, I especially tune in for songs and news.


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