Here we are four months into the year and in paddocks across the region people are busy sowing winter crops and renovating pastures. At the Graham Centre there’s also a buzz as students return to studying on campus at Charles Sturt University, and our researchers are once again presenting their work at grower field days and conferences. There’s also plenty of good news to share.
Congratulations to Dr Sunita Pandey, who was awarded the Higher Degree by Research University Medal by Charles Sturt University for her PhD titled, ‘Conservation biological control in brassica crops using Australian native plants’. The research shows scope for farmers to take advantage of potentially multiple ecosystem services by incorporating native flowering plants into farming systems.
In other graduation news, Dr Brooke Kaveney (pictured) has been awarded her PhD ‘The influence of soil properties on nitrifying organisms and nitrification inhibition efficacy of 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPP)’. She found that crop-pasture rotational systems and liming alters soil properties, which in turn influences the nitrifying microbial population that exists in the soil. These results have important implications farm management practices to improve nitrogen use efficiency. We’re pleased that Brooke is continuing her research with the Centre, working with us on an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research investigating alternative crops to rice that can be grown in saline conditions in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta.
You can also listen to our 'Digital Farm' podcast where Graham Centre senior research fellow in spatial agriculture, Jon Medway, tracks the development of a digital learning and research environment within the 1,600 hectare mixed farm at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.
There’re also some exciting new research projects planned. A multi-agency team led by Charles Sturt University’s Dr Jane Kelly, along with Dr Remy Dehaan and Associate Professor Lihong Zheng, has been awarded funding as part of the Australian Government’s Advancing Pest Animal and Weed Control Solutions competitive grant round. This project aims to understand the opportunities and limitations of technologies for remote detection of weeds in diverse landscapes.
Two projects under the National Landcare Program’s ‘Small Farms, Small Grants’ will improve natural resource management to benefit the landscape, community and economy. Professor Leslie Weston will lead a project to investigate the use of new and existing small-seeded pasture and legume cover crops to improve soil nutrients, improve feed quality for livestock and suppress weeds. In another project, the Centre’s Dung Beetle team will develop an extension program and work with Landcare networks to build capacity among cattle and sheep producers to implement farm management practices that enable dung beetles to thrive. This will build on the work of the Dung Beetle Ecosystems Engineers project. We’re looking forward to sharing more about this work when the projects begin.
Professor Leigh Schmidtke, Acting Graham Centre Director