Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Graduation for PhD researchers

Graham centre research to improve weed management in rice production, value add pulse crops, and to provide important information for parasite control in sheep has been recognised.

The Charles Sturt University Council has conferred PhD awards to Dr Jhoana Opena and Dr Stephen Cork with Alice Bunyan to be awarded her PhD in late December.

Dr Jhoana Opena in a white lab coat infront of pasture legumes int he glasshouseDr Opena’s research investigated the use of pasture legumes to supress barnyard grass, a significant weed in rice production systems.

Australian rice growers have been adopting water-saving systems, such as direct drill sowing of rice in dry soil and delaying the application of permanent water.

But this provides an opportunity for barnyard grass to proliferate which can lead to a five tonne per hectare yield loss.

Dr Opena’s study found that pasture legumes suppressed barnyard grass seed bank build-up through reduced seed viability over two years of rotation and enhanced the mortality of seeds left on the soil surface.

She found using the pasture legumes in rotation with rice provided more suppression to barnyard grass than canola and barley crops and fallow.

The phytotoxic effects of the incorporation of pasture legume residues against rice can be avoided by no-tillage practice with direct drill sowing of rice.

Other weed management tools such as delayed rice sowing, stale seedbed technique, drill sowing implements with the disc, and competitive rice cultivars with early vigour should be combined with the pasture legume rotation.

Dr Stephen Cork’s PhD, through the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Functional Grains, focused on innovative processing technology to add value to pulse crops, in particular chickpeas and Faba beans.

a man in a white lab coat holds a tray of pulse flakesThese pulses are a healthy food source of global significance and are gaining popularity with Australian farmers but growers face volatile international markets and limited domestic processing opportunities.

In developed countries such as Australia, pulse consumption is well below the recommended daily intake, and traditional pulse dishes in developing nations are being replaced by ‘ready-to-eat’ cereal products.

Dr Cork investigated the influence of industry-relevant processing conditions on the flaking quality of Australian chickpea and Faba bean splits.

By further optimising processing conditions, it may be possible to produce pulse flakes that offer new healthy, value-added, ready to eat pulse foods.

Alice Bunyan has studied Haemonchus contortus, or barber’s pole worm, an economically important and highly pathogenic parasite that impacts sheep and goat industries.

Her research examined the genetic diversity of the parasite, examining samples from northern NSW where it’s endemic and southern NSW where outbreaks are more sporadic.

The findings have important implications for the emergence and spread of drench resistance, in not only barber’s pole worm but other gastrointestinal nematodes of sheep.

It serves as a timely reminder of the importance of appropriate worm control measures, including the use of quarantine treatments to prevent further drench resistance.


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