Tag Archives: nitrogen

ARC Linkage round successes

The Waite Campus will be home to two new projects funded by the ARC Linkage Projects scheme.

In all, the University of Adelaide won $5.4 million for industry-linked research, 58% of the funding awarded to SA.

A team led by Prof Geoff Fincher from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls and A. Prof Jason Eglinton from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine was awarded $675,000 a to study the physiology and genetics of barley grain germination in the malting and brewing industries. This project was highlighted in the recent edition of The Stock Journal and the Plant Cell Walls blog.

The other successful linkage project, led by Dr Trevor Garnett and Dr Sigrid Heuer from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics ($524,718 over 3 years) aims to improve the nitrogen use efficiency of cereal plants. The project will identify and investigate nitrogen uptake pathways to find what is limiting plants’ nitrogen uptake. Improving the nitrogen uptake process in plants will increase the plant’s ability to use nitrogen more efficiently, leading to reduced and more sustainable nitrogen fertiliser usage. This project has been highlighted on the ACPFG blog.

WRI Director Prof Mike Wilkinson is also an investigator on two projects based at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.

The 2nd A. E. V. Richardson Lecture

Dissecting nitrogen use efficiency in modern wheat, or who cares about nitrogen, and what can we do about it?

Food security and sustainable crop production are major concerns for agriculture, particularly with an increasing world population and the pressures on land use combined with negative impacts of climate change. Underpinning crop production is the efficient use of resources including fertilisers. Nitrogen fertiliser is a key determinant for both yield and quality in crops; however inappropriate use has negative economic and environmental consequences. The logical targets for crop improvement in relation to nutrient use efficiency and production will be discussed by Dr Malcolm J. Hawkesford who has been invited to deliver the 2nd A.E.V. Richardson Lecture in recognition of his contribution to agronomy and commitment to integrating research from the level of the gene through to field physiology and agronomy.

The A.E.V. Richardson Lecture is named in honour of the former foundation Professor of Agriculture and first Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute. Before joining the University of Adelaide in 1924, Professor Richardson was the Superintendent of Agriculture for Victoria and played a large role in establishing the School of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne. His direction of agricultural education and research continued during his time as Director of the Waite (1924 to 1938). He preached and practised a constant theme: advances in agricultural practice and increased productivity depended on scientifically based experimentation. Richardson’s main fields of personal research were cereal agronomy, pasture research and wheat-breeding. From 1934 to 1946, Richardson was Deputy Chief Executive Officer of CSIR and then Chief Executive Officer until his retirement in 1949. Richardson directed research and development in Australian primary production over the period of its most rapid growth. A.E.V. Richardson died in December 1949.

Date/Time: Monday 29th November, 4pm
Location:
Plant Genomics Centre Seminar Room, Waite Campus
Speaker: Dr Malcolm J. Hawkesford (Rothamsted Research, UK)
Cost
: Free

The presentation will be followed by drinks and nibbles

For further Information contact: Dr Amanda Able

Improving Nitrogen and Phosphorus use of cereals to help food security

Friday 24th September marks the final day of the 15th International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology, and is a feature day for the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG). In particular the day will highlight work at the Centre into the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of cereal
plants.

‘Given the environmental effects associated with production and usage of nitrogen fertilisers, and the suggestion that we may be approaching peak phosphorus, increased food production will require crops that use fertilisers more efficiently, that is, we need to increase the nutrient use efficiency of crops,’ said Dr Trevor Garnett, NUE researcher at ACPFG

Nutrient use efficiency researchers from around the world will meet on the Friday at the National Wine Centre to discuss their research and strategies for international collaboration to address this problem.

‘Currently the demand for food is close to the limits of what we can produce, but by 2050 it is suggested that we will need to increase food production by 60% according to a 2008 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations report,’ he said.

Nitrogen (N) is one of the biggest input costs for farmers and the price is increasing because of the power used to industrially fix N from the atmosphere. Approximately 2 % of the world’s energy is used to produced N fertiliser; this causes a considerable greenhouse gas contribution.

‘Over 100 million tonnes of Nitrogen fertiliser is applied to crops each year and 60% of this on cereals,’ said Dr Garnett. ‘Given the costs and environmental effects associated with production and usage of nitrogen fertilisers, plants with increased nitrogen use efficiency are of great importance to future food security.’

Nitrogen is the fertiliser that plants require the most, but only 40-50% of the applied fertiliser is taken up by the cereal crops. The nitrogen not taken up leads to pollution of waterways and oceans, one consequence being algal blooms at river deltas causing dead zones.

Unused nitrogen fertiliser has a further environmental impact in that it is broken down in the soil by microbes and released into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Plants require less phosphorus than nitrogen but there is a lot less available. Current estimates are that the world will reach peak phosphorus by the middle of this century. Peak phosphorus, in the same way as peak oil, means the readily available supplies have been utilised and the cost of phosphorous fertiliser will dramatically increase.

The Friday session includes plenary speakers representing the key international groups specialising in NUE and research presentations describing key rate limiting steps in NUE that are currently being targeted to improve the NUE in crop plants.

IWPMB 2010 Website