Applications are open for four new fully funded post graduate scholarships to pursue research that will benefit the Western Australian grains industry.
The four-year scholarships provided by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development include the provision of a suitable mentor from the department, as well as access to its resources, field plots, equipment and office space.
Potential grains research areas are broad ranging, including crop nutrition and protection, digital and precision agriculture, genetics, soil management, systems agronomy, agricultural economics and product integrity.
The department’s Grains Research and Development Transformation acting executive director, Jason Moynihan, said the scholarships were an investment in the science capability of grains research in Western Australia.
“It is important for the WA grains industry to be at the forefront of international research to remain competitive,” Mr Moynihan said.
“This investment in the next generation of grains scientists will enhance the State’s extensive grains research activities, while providing an opportunity to launch their professional careers.”
The scholarships, valued at about $190,000 each over four years, must include an extensive field component.
This is the second time the grains research scholarships have been offered by the department, after three scholarships were awarded earlier this year.
Xin (Bob) Du is investigating how the non-chemical, food grade Synthetic Amorphous Silica (SAS) works to kill grain insects that are resistant to phosphine, the chemical commonly used to treat stored grain.
“There have been no previous studies to date that have developed a mode of action for SAS to kill these resistant strains of grain insects,” Mr Du said.
“My research aims to lead to the development of highly efficient and cost effective SAS products and associated application methods to provide a powerful tool to manage these key biosecurity threats.
“This will significantly enhance post-harvest grain management and help to maintain the State’s international reputation and market access, to the benefit of the WA grains industry and the economy.”
Mr Du is undertaking his research at Murdoch University’s Post-harvest Biosecurity and Food Safety Laboratory.
The other two previous recipients include Brenton Leske whose studies focus on improving frost tolerance in wheat and Leon Hodge who is working on reducing yield losses in barley caused by fungicide resistance to the disease net blotch,
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