Murdoch to be part of $40m soil centre

16/03/2017 - 12:39

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Murdoch University has been named among 42 organisations across Australia charged with establishing a consortium to boost the nation’s agricultural sector.

Murdoch to be part of $40m soil centre
Six WA-based groups will be involved in the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils.

Murdoch University has been named among 42 organisations across Australia charged with establishing a consortium to boost the nation’s agricultural sector.

The federal government has provided $39.5 million in funding over 10 years to develop the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils, with the aim of helping farmers bridge the gap between soil science and farm management.

Murdoch was one of six Western Australia-based bodies chosen this week to be part of the consortium, alongside WA No Tillage Farmers Association, the Gillamii Centre, Liebe Group, Facey Group, and Farmanco.

Richard Bell, from Murdoch’s school of veterinary and life sciences, said the consortium would address a number of issues affecting Australia’s agricultural productivity.

“The lost opportunity resulting from Australia’s inherently poor soils costs the economy billions of dollars annually,” Professor Bell said.

“This opportunity cost is exacerbated as the world’s demand for food doubles by 2050, predominantly due to increased demand in Asia.”

The project objectives include an overall increase in economic activity of at least $2 billion per annum after the 10 years, premium prices for farmers, and an increase in crop and pasture productivity on targeted soils of between 50 and 100 per cent.

Murdoch leader of agricultural sciences, Richard Harper, said the issue of lost production due to poor soils was a recognised problem for local agriculture, and that the objectives of the consortium were very relevant to WA.

“Past investment in soil science has resulted in significant strides in production,” Professor Harper said.

“However, there are remaining challenges related to increasing productivity and maintaining food quality.

“There are emerging technologies and approaches and this large-scale national effort will produce new, practical on-farm solutions.”

The University of Newcastle will lead the consortium, which includes 12 researchers from Murdoch. 

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