Research alliance on soil challenges

Countryman
UWA’s Professor Daniel Murphy and Associate Professor Frances Hoyle with Chris Gazey, from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA.
Camera IconUWA’s Professor Daniel Murphy and Associate Professor Frances Hoyle with Chris Gazey, from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA. Credit: DAFWA

Soil science researchers from the University of Western Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA have combined their scientific and research capabilities to develop the long-term future of soil science in WA.

The SoilsWest alliance in agriculture will focus on innovative soil research in grain and pasture production systems to deliver high-value science to the wider agricultural industry.

Initially, the alliance will develop agricultural research, development and extension activities in crop nutrition, soil biological function, as well as physical and chemical constraints in soils.

SoilsWest director Associate Professor Frances Hoyle, principal research fellow with UWA’s School of Earth and Environment, said the alliance would help generate innovative approaches and partnerships to address new and existing challenges to managing soils in WA.

“By creating a pipeline of research from scientific discovery through to the application and development of practical solutions we will enhance the delivery and relevancy of soils research in collaboration with growers and industry,” Associate Professor Hoyle said.

“We are excited about generating interest from other research providers, industry partners and growers as the alliance progresses, in creating greater value from increasingly limited funding and growing capability in Western Australia.”

The project plans to develop the supporting technologies, communication, placement opportunities and integrated thinking required to connect academic-focused research with practical solutions and knowledge transfer to growers and industry.

NRM WA groups have already expressed support for the alliance with a view to strengthening the relationship, and are excited by the future opportunities for more integrated solutions to soil problems.

DAFWA Soils Productivity Senior Research Officer Chris Gazey said the initiative would strengthen the soils science capability in Western Australia, by partnering in an area where complementary skills and knowledge will contribute to improved research outcomes.

“This work will develop connections and partnerships to grow opportunities for addressing significant soil constraints to on-farm productivity and enhance sustainability in Western Australian grain production,” Mr Gazey said.

“DAFWA brings to the initiative a practical focus to the science and strong links to the farming community and agribusiness.”

Associate Professor Hoyle said the opportunity to grow scientific capability and maintain scientific rigour, while having practical outcomes and a measurable impact on the ground underpinned the intent of the alliance and its value to the industry.

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