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    RESEARCH: From left, PhD students Sachesh Silwal, Bhawana Bhattarai, Danielle Yidan Tang, Spencer Fan and Keshia Savage are pictured with research director Traci Griffin and supervisors Cassandra Walker and Glenn Fitzgerald at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham. Student Amit Adhakari is absent. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

AgLife: Research opportunity for students at Grains Innovation Park

Six PhD students have won selection to help with research in Horsham as part of a Victorian Grains Innovation Partnership between Agriculture Victoria and Grains Research and Development Centre. 

The partnership aims to improve the enduring profitability of Victorian and Australian grain growers through world- class research and innovation.

The students are completing their fellowships at Grains Innovation Park in Horsham with support and mentorship from scientists at Agriculture Victoria and Melbourne University. 

The PhD research fellowships are part of the Centre for Agricultural Innovation, a joint initiative between Agriculture Victoria and The University of Melbourne.

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Agriculture Victoria Research director and Grains Innovation Park site leader Traci Griffin said she was excited to be hosting the students, whose work would further build the research and innovation capability and capacity for the grains industry.

“These fellowships are key to the development of the future workforce in grains research and Agriculture Victoria is proud to provide this opportunity and mentorship,” she said.

“The research projects tackle different issues southern grain growers face and the results will have far-reaching impacts for the sector.”

GRDC interim managing director Cathie Warburton said the Australian grains industry needed people with specialist skills to progress research and innovation to ensure the sector’s ongoing success and viability.

“GRDC is committed to supporting and encouraging students through initiatives such as this one, as part of our strategy to build research capacity and capability,” she said.

“Our partnership with VGIP helps ensure some of our most innovative and talented PhD students have the opportunity to be involved in projects that will have an impact at a paddock level as well as on a national and global scale.”

Danielle Yidan Tang is investigating the use of sensor technology to determine grain quality before harvest. 

Grain quality is a major determinant of on-farm profitability and can vary spatially across farms.

Danielle, a PhD student with the University of Melbourne, said she was focusing on lentils and faba beans.  

“They are the top two winter pulses that are produced in Victoria,” she said.

“I started my PhD in March this year after I graduated and I did my honours at University of Melbourne focusing on a viticulture project. 

“Before that I did my three-year Bachelor degree at University of Melbourne. I was the class of 2019 valedictorian.

“I love living here, regional Victoria is definitely something different than what I am used to in the city. 

“I am loving the field trials and being able to go out and check on my experiments. Grains Innovation Park has lots of equipment for me to explore, especially as I’m working on this remote sensing project which involves lots of sensors, which are really cool to work with, and my supervisors are experts in the field. 

“I am really grateful to be able to work with them.” 

The successful students will be working on areas of profitable pulse crops and bridging the profitability gap. 

• Sachesh Silwal is evaluating the agronomic suitability of mungbean to farming systems in southern Australia by defining the phenology, water and nitrogen dynamics of this crop across a range of Victorian growing environments.

• Spencer Fan is undertaking an environmental analysis of potential effectiveness of different root ideotypes for different soil types for southern Australia using both historical and future predicted climate records.

• Bhawana Bhattarai is investigating the effects of storage strategies on grain quality to identify best storage practices and enable grain growers to better maintain grain quality and value prior to sale.

• Keshia Savage is examining the relationship between soil physicochemical properties and the response of grain crops to different management interventions on a 3D spatial scale.

• Amit Adhakari is developing and assessing the potential of new management strategies designed to improve the capture and use of rainfall by grain crops in future climates. Research involves laboratory, glasshouse, field and computer simulation studies.

The entire November 24, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 24, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!