From transforming the meat industry with new scanning technology to the transformation of breeding techniques to improve global crop production, Murdoch University’s 2017 Agricultural Research Symposium showcased an exciting future for Western Australian farming.
Representatives from the agricultural industry, government, research funders and collaborators joined Murdoch researchers and students for the event, now in its second year.
Welcoming delegates, Murdoch Vice Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen said the symposium reflected the University’s strength in research that tackles real world problems in Western Australia and across the world.
“We are very supportive of the WA Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Food, Alannah MacTiernan, in her campaign for a greater proportion of industry research and development funding to support research in the State,” Professor Leinonen said.
“As we move into the future, WA’s agriculture industry will face challenges – new pests and diseases, cost and price pressures, a variable climate, and evolving markets.
“As the research presented at the symposium has illustrated, Murdoch is well placed to assist with innovation and improvements that will allow WA’s agricultural industry to tackle these issues and become more profitable and competitive.”
Executive officer of the Western Australian Livestock Research Council Tim Watts told symposium attendees that research added understanding to the farming business.
“If we are able to predict what will happen, we can manage risk,” he said.
“The agricultural research done by WA institutions is valuable for farmers and Murdoch University is a big contributor to this.”
Murdoch’s agriculture cluster in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences is one of the biggest in the State, receiving $12 million in research funding per year, and boasting a staff of 70 researchers and 75 PhD students.
There is also an active undergraduate degree program, with 362 students across animal and crop science disciplines.
In the recently released Good Universities Guide for 2018, Murdoch’s agriculture courses were rated as the finest in WA, and fourth in Australia.
This strength in depth was reflected in a fascinating array of presentations at the symposium:
- Dr Jatin Kala illustrated that crop and wine producing areas of the south-west are at risk because of the warming and drying climate.
- Dr Stanley Sochacki outlined the carbon farming opportunities in environments with low rainfall.
- Dr Steve Milroy explained how the gene editing technique CRISPR could help to improve the dietary quality of potatoes.
- Dr Liselotte Pannier described how Australian farmers can tailor sheep meat to suit Chinese and American markets.
- Dr Manjree Agarwal showcased new identification tools for the khapra beetle – one of the world’s most destructive insect pests.
- Amy Lockwood presented her research on the impacts of mob size and stocking rate on lamb survival.
- Professor John Pluske gave an overview of pork research in Western Australia, and described how this is effectively now mainly undertaken at Murdoch.
Incoming School of Veterinary and Life Sciences Dean, Professor Richard Harper, said the symposium was a great opportunity to bring researchers, funders and collaborators together with industry representatives.
“We are proud to work very closely with farmers on the issues they face daily, and believe we are adding value to their operations and the State’s prosperity,” Professor Harper said.
“The insights of industry and farmers are at the forefront of our research questions, informing our teaching also so the next generation of agriculture professionals and researchers are appropriately equipped to take the industry forward.”
Source: Murdoch University