Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

School of Agricultural and Wine Science Alumni Update | 2014

School of Agriculture and Wine Science Alumni Update

Research finalist in Eureka Prize

Research finalist in Eureka Prize

CSU research which has increased farm profits and improved the environment is part of a project named as a finalist in the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. 

CSU was one of six partners in the national EverGraze program which brought together leading scientists under the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre to design, test and implement farming systems based on perennial plants in high rainfall areas in southern Australia.

The project is a finalist in the 2014 Department of Agriculture Landcare Eureka Prize for Sustainable Agriculture, with the winner to be announced on Wednesday 10 September.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are affectionately known as the 'Oscars of Australian science' and reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership, science communication and journalism, and school science.

Future Farm Industries CRC Program 1 Leader and CSU Associate Professor of Livestock Production Michael Friend said research was carried out on farms in NSW, Victoria and WA.

"EverGraze showed it was possible to significantly increase the profitability of livestock enterprises while reducing ground water recharge and soil loss by water and wind, by better matching pastures to the environment and livestock systems," he said.

Professor Friend, based in the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at CSU in Wagga Wagga, said a key plank of the project was making the information relevant and accessible to farmers.

"EverGraze brought together experts in agronomy, soil science, hydrology, animal production and economic and environmental monitoring. It incorporated advice from Regional Advisory Groups and the on-farm experience from 60 demonstration sites," he said.

 "From this we have been able to develop regionally relevant information for farmers which quantifies the productivity, economic, environment, risk and lifestyle impacts of implementing changes on farm.

"Charles Sturt University was pleased to play a lead role in this research and it's pleasing to note that as a result of this project more than 4 400 farmers covering over 900 000 hectares have made changes on-farm, with demonstrated increases to productivity and profitability." 

Other CSU staff involved in the project included Dr Susan Robertson and Dr Belinda King from the School of Animal and Veterinary Science, and Mr John Broster, Dr Alison Southwell, Dr Jason Condon, Dr Scott Glyde and Associate Professor Phil Eberbach, all from SAWS.


 

New funds to support research from vine to wine

New funds to support research from vine to wine

The Australian wine industry is being hailed as the winner from more than $3.5 million in new research funding secured by the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre. 

The NWGIC, an alliance between Charles Sturt University (CSU), the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the NSW Wine Industry Association, has secured the funding from the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC)

NWGIC Director Professor Alain Deloire said, "The six new projects funded by GWRDC from 2014 to 2016 will focus on various important topics for the Australian wine industry: optimising the flavours and value of grapes produced; forecasting yield; improving soil and vine health; biosecurity; wine spoilage and improving the profitability and sustainability of vineyards." 

CSU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Sue Thomas said, "The successful grants from the GWRDC support research projects that will directly support the sustainability of the Australian wine industry."

NSW DPI Acting Deputy Director General, Agriculture NSW, Mr Rob Young said the projects are a significant boost to wine growers across the state. 

"The projects are being led by world-class researchers at Wagga Wagga and will help growers improve profitability, disease management and improve efficiencies," Mr Young said.

The National Wine and Grape Industry Centre and CSU through the School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences (SAWS) are now full partners with two international consortia; VINIFERA (dedicated to international Master of Science students training); and OENOVITI (dedicated to international research collaborations and PhD student training).

CSU students win National Merino Challenge

CSU students win National Merino Challenge

A team of students from Charles Sturt University (CSU) has won the Tertiary Division of the National Merino Challenge (NMC).

An initiative of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the Challenge is designed to demonstrate skills in sheep classing, production and fleece assessment. 

The CSU team of Ms Catherine Worner, Ms Jordan Hoban, Ms Dione Howard and Ms Patricia Coleman, from the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, claimed first place in the tertiary teams challenge.

Bachelor of Animal Sciences student Ms Hoban, from near Macksville in northern NSW, was named the overall tertiary champion.

"I've learnt an incredible amount of information about the Merino and wool industry and gained an understanding that I didn't have before," she said. "It was a great opportunity to meet new people and develop contacts for my future career."

During the two-day National Merino Challenge in Melbourne, students competed in seven practical challenges including sheep selection, wool valuation and nutrition and feed budgeting. 

The CSU team has been trained by Associate Professor Michael Friend and Research Fellow Dr Susan Robertson from CSU's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.

Dr Robertson said the students learn to apply theoretical principles in a practical situation for a range of skills required when breeding and managing Merino sheep flocks. 

"It's a great opportunity for those with limited practical experience to gain these skills, and for those with more experience to hone those skills," she said. "To win the competition the students need to both understand the theory and have the practical skills to apply it"

It's the second time Ms Hoban has been successful in a national competition, she was selected in the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Team which toured the United States in 2013.

"My Honours research is about measuring the quality of sheep meat, so up until now my interests have been more focused on the meat side," she said. "The National Merino Challenge has given me the desire to broaden my knowledge and experience in the fibre industry and it is certainly something I wish to pursue."

The CSU team is sponsored by TA Fields Estate, Fox and Lillie Rural, Broula Merino stud and the Cesnik family


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