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The Waite Research Institute, GRDC, and Australian Society of Soil Science Inc are presenting a workshop on ‘Chemistry, amelioration and management of alkaline soils’ at the Waite Campus on Thursday, 27th of June.

Alkaline soils cover 24% of Australia with 62 Mha occurring in SE Australia. The chemical and physical properties of alkaline soils impose important constraints to yield yet their amelioration is difficult and consequently has been largely ignored. The chemical properties of alkaline soils are also unfavourable for organic carbon accumulation and the soil organic C concentrations of alkaline soils are intrinsically low which may be limiting the benefits of stubble retention systems on these soils.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together key local and national scientists to review our current state of knowledge of alkaline soils, identify important research gaps and to suggest the most productive areas for future work.

The workshop will consider a range of topics including chemistry of alkaline soils and organic carbon, measurements of organic carbon, biological activity of alkaline soils, crop breeding and plant response in alkaline soils, nutrient cycling and water use efficiency and farming systems.


Dr Pichu Rengasamy, University of Adelaide

Professor Caixian Tang, Latrobe University

Dr Roger Armstrong, DPI Victoria

Dr Tim Setter, DAFWA

Dr Gupta Vadakattu, CSIRO

Dr Rob Fitzpatrick, CSIRO

Closing date for registrations: 24th of June

When: Thursday June 27th, 2013, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Where: Charles Hawker Conference Centre, Charles Hawker Building room 107, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Waite Road Urrbrae

Click on this link and follow the instructions. There will be a receipt issued at the completion of your transaction, and a ticket with booking details.

For more information contact Dr Ehsan Tavakkoli (Phone (8) 8313 2400), (


Dr Shakeel Bhatti, Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture visits the Waite

Dr Shakeel Bhatti, Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty) at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation visited the Waite Campus on the 20th of March and presented a public seminar on:

“The Global Genepool: An innovative approach to the global food security challenge”

To hear Dr Bhatti’s seminar click here. To see a summary of Dr Bhatti’s seminar on Twitter click here.

The Treaty is an international agreement with the overall goal of supporting global food security, allows governments, farmers, research institutes and agro-industries to work together by pooling their genetic resources and sharing the benefits from their use – thus protecting and enhancing our food crops while giving fair recognition and benefits to local farmers who have nurtured these crops through the millennia.

With this Treaty, 64 important crops that produce our food – such as rice, wheat, maize and potatoes –  are put into a common pool. The treaty facilitates access to those crops, makes them available free of charge to researchers and plant breeders who agree to share any future commercial benefits from their use in modern plant breeding or biotechnology. This recognition and this benefit sharing are designed to ensure equity and encourage farmers to continue conserving and using the diversity in their fields.

Since he took office in 2007, Dr Bhatti managed the launch of the first multilaterally governed, global access and benefit-sharing system, which now contains more than 1.5 million samples of plant genetic material and facilitates more than 600 transfers of genetic material every day from international genebanks alone.

Besides the genepool, Dr Bhatti established and facilitated the launch of the Benefit-sharing Fund of the Treaty with a target of US$116 million by 2014. Currently, he has raised more than US$15 million to support 30 in-situ projects in 35 countries throughout the developing world.

For more information about the Treaty, please visit

Debate @ the Waite

Come and hear two teams debate the topic: Increasing agricultural production is the only sure way to feed 9 billion people by 2050

Ensuring global food security for future generations is one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Increases in agricultural productivity in the second half of the 20th century did much to alleviate hunger in developing countries. However, the rate of this productivity increase is slowing. Do we need another ‘green revolution’ to feed our growing population? Should the focus of investment be on the sustainable intensification of agriculture? Can we continue to push agricultural productivity further while still meeting expectations that resources will be used more efficiently and without harming the environment?

Australian consumers waste large amounts of food every year, and we are not alone. In addition to consumer wastage, vital foodstuffs are lost on the journey from paddock to plate. Political issues can also prevent the movement of food from places of excess to places of need. Do we already produce enough food to feed our growing population? Should the focus of investment be on reducing waste along food value-chains? Is food security a problem of politics rather than production?

At this exciting and important debate moderated by Dr Paul Willis (Royal Institution of Australia), six experts in two teams will argue for your vote.

Team for the affirmative

  • Prof Rick Roush, Dean, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Andrew Jacobs, Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, University of Adelaide
  • Prof Roger Leigh, Director, Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide

Team for the negative

  • John Webster, Chief Executive, Foodbank Australia Ltd.
  • Dr Wendy Umberger, Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, University of Adelaide
  • Andrew Stoler, Executive Director, Institute for International Trade, University of Adelaide

Will you be for or against?

When: Thursday 25th August, 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
Where: Lirra Lirra Cafe, Waite Campus, The University of Adelaide, Waite Rd, Urrbrae

Admission free. Bookings essential

Register online at eventbrite or call 83036729
Download flyer (pdf)

New ARC Linkage Projects to increase plant nutrient use efficiency and yield

Waite researchers have once again attracted significant funding through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects Scheme. Linkage Projects encourage collaboration between University researchers and industry to develop solutions to key challenges and provide economic and social benefits.

“These new Linkage Projects represent significant new investment in research at the Waite” said Waite Research Institute Director, Professor Roger Leigh. “Both projects involving Waite researchers have the potential to deliver significant benefits to Australia’s agricultural sector and I personally congratulate all of the researchers involved.”

The new ARC Linkage Projects for 2011 involving the Waite researchers are:

“Transport systems that underpin nitrogen efficient maize”

Dr Brent N Kaiser, Prof Stephen D Tyerman, Dr Kanwarpal S Dhugga, Dr Jan A Rafalski

Nitrogen applications to grain crops are a major determinant of grain yield and quality. Greater efficiency in the use of nitrogen will contribute to more sustainable grain production systems. This project aims to identify plant-based processes involved in nitrogen use by maize. It will define the nitrogen transport network underpinning in the uptake, storage and redistribution of inorganic nitrogen (nitrate and ammonium) over the developmental life cycle of maize. This information will provide novel insight into the genetic control of nitrogen use in maize and other cereal crops.

Partner organisation: DuPont Pioneer

Value: $750,110 over 5 years

“Improving yield through image-based structural analysis of cereals”

Prof Anton J van den Hengel, Prof Mark A Tester, Dr Anthony R Dick, Dr Joerg Vandenhirtz

Feeding an increasing world population under the threat of climate change requires the development of new plant varieties capable of delivering higher yield in more marginal conditions. This project will develop image-based technologies for accurately estimating plant yield which will improve the effectiveness of plant breeding processes.

Partner organisation: LemnaTec GmbH

Value:$475,000 over 5 years

The Waite Research Institute congratulates these ARC Linkage Project recipients and all of the successful researchers at the University of Adelaide.

For more information on successful ARC Linkage Projects, see the University of Adelaide’s media release and the ARC’s Linkage Project Funding Outcomes

WRI assists students to attend Student World Forum

With travel expense assistance from the WRI, University of Adelaide students Melissa Coventry, Nikki Hebenstreit and Amalia Sosrodiredjo attended the 4th AC21 (Academic Consortium for the 21st Century) Student World Forum in Thailand in May. The focus of this year’s conference was sustainable rural development.

They write “approximately 60 students from countries including Thailand, Laos, China, Japan, Germany, Australia, USA, Moldova, South Africa and Indonesia met at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to learn and share knowledge on Sustainable Rural Development from the perspectives of the various countries…There was a general consensus overall however, that one of the most important lessons taken from this Forum was the value of international networking…”

Melissa is a B S (Ag Sci) student, Nikki and Amalia are studying towards the degree of Master of Sustainability.

Read the full report and view photos here.

Peter Waite Celebrations

Peter Waite Day

To commemorate Peter Waite’s birth date (May 9, 1834), the WRI, together with the UoA School of Agriculture, Food & Wine honoured the day by sponsoring drinks and canapés for all Waite campus staff and UoA postgraduates on Friday afternoon 6 May 2011. The inaugural event was held in perfect autumn weather outside Lirra Lirra cafe from 3:00pm to 4:30pm and included a competitive Bocce tournament with 12 teams vying for the prestigious trophy, the Peter Waite Bocce Cup!

Professor Leigh gave a short speech and he said the Peter Waite Day event was a great opportunity for all the Waite collocated partners to get together and socialise.

At the conclusion of the event, Acting Head of School, Professor Eileen Scott presented the winners of the Peter Waite cup, “The Salties”. It’s worth also pointing out many of the teams had some fun names such as the SARDInes and the Central Wino’s – next year we hope to see even more Bocce teams enter with clever names representing their departments or area of research. Perhaps in 2012 we’ll even add an additional prize for the team with the best name!?

The WRI and AFW School would like to thank everyone who helped organise the Bocce games and the people who gave their support and attended ‘Peter Waite Day’ 2011.

Primary Industries Standing Committee National RD&E Framework

Grains Implementation Committee 2011

Professor Roger Leigh is a member of the National Grains RD&E Framework Implementation Committee as a representative of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture.

The national Primary Industries Standing Committee* (PISC) has initiated an agenda to rationalise the national research, development and extension (RD&E) framework servicing agriculture.  The framework spans 14 primary industry sectors and 7 cross-industry sectors.  The 14 industry sectors are: beef, cotton, dairy, fishing and aquaculture, forests, grains, horticulture, pork, poultry, sheep-meat, sugar, wine, wool and new and emerging industries.  The 7 cross-sector strategies are: animal biosecurity, animal welfare, biofuels and bioenergy, climate change and variability, food and nutrition, plant biosecurity and water use in agriculture. These reviews are overseen by the PISC R&D Subcommittee which has a member from the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture on it.

The PISC National RD&E framework seeks to consolidate investment in RD&E to achieve:

  1. Agreed strategic directions and priorities for national and sector level primary industries RD&E in Australia that enhance the productivity and sustainability of Australia’s primary industries;
  2. Research capability that will more comprehensively and holistically cover the present and future strategic needs of stakeholders nationally;
  3. Reduced fragmentation of research across the nation so that public research capability will become more integrated, interdependent and specialised, and have larger critical mass;
  4. Improved efficiency and effectiveness of RD&E will be improved and as a consequence returns on investment will improve;
  5. Focussed RD&E investment that will improve the capability of the national system in priority areas and ensure effective and efficient use of resources, including infrastructure;
  6. Enhanced collaboration to retain and build capability in fields strategically important to different jurisdictions and industry sectors;
  7. An intergrated national research capability that  will be a component of a wider innovation agenda, supporting development and extension; and
  8. Research undertaken in one location will be developed and extended nationally for primary industries.

(Source:  National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Network Statement of Intent)

The PISC RD&E framework is focussing on achieving National R, Regional D and Local E. To achieve this each of the jurisdictions, CSIRO, and the Universities have been asked identify whether their activities will be Major, Support or Link in various designated research activities in each of the sectoral reviews:

Major:  Will maintain a lead role in providing R&D capability towards national outcomes;

Support:  Will contribute to R&D in partnership but the major role will be taken by another jurisdiction or institution;

 Link:  Will not undertake R&D but will access information and resources from other jurisdictions (E only).

The application of the M,S&L categorisation will result in designated major lead (M) and support (S) jurisdictions and institutions undertaking RD&E with a national and sector perspective; as well as other jurisdictions withdrawing from some RD&E activities and sourcing required RD&E outcomes from M&S designated institutions.

(* The Primary Industries Standing Committee comprises the heads of the national and state government departments associated with primary industries).