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Journey begins for Grains Research Scholarship recipients

Released on

Released on:
Wednesday, 13. March 2019 - 16:00

Two novel areas of grains research will be pursued by the latest recipients of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Grains R&D Post Graduate Scholarships.

This is the third time the scholarships have been awarded to advance grains research and innovation in Western Australia and to nurture up-and-coming scientists.

Murdoch University entomologist Andrew Phillips will undertake PhD studies to reduce aphid damage in canola crops by identifying the chemical cues the pest’s natural enemies use to locate its presence, which will assist timely and targeted pest responses. 

Geraldton based department research officer Martin Harries will also pursue a doctorate at the University of Western Australia to examine how future farming practices need to be modified to overcome biophysical constraints, such as weeds, disease and climate, to optimise future productivity and profitability.

Department acting director Grains Research, Development and Innovation Kerry Regan congratulated the scholarship awardees, who joined six previous recipients since the inception of the initiative in 2017.

“The scholarships have been quite successful in unearthing new approaches to tackle grain production research issues that are important to Western Australia,” Ms Regan said.

“These include improving frost tolerance in wheat, fungicide resistance in barley pathogens, alternative pest insect treatments for stored grain, enhancing potassium fertiliser recommendations, novel technology to prevent grain contamination and overcoming soil water repellence.

“Results from some of these projects are already starting to be revealed, which will contribute to boosting WA’s grains industry productivity and profitability.”

In addition to the full four-year scholarships, the department provides recipients with a suitable mentor, access to resources, including field plots and equipment, as well as office space.

Ms Regan said the department’s Grains R&D Post Graduate Scholarships demonstrated the department’s commitment to ensuring WA was well equipped with high-quality resources and personnel to drive future grains research.

“The department continues to invest in refreshing its grains research capacity and capability to ensure the WA grains industry remains at the forefront of scientific advances that will assist the sector to be internationally competitive,” she said.

“Collaboration is a feature of this scholarship initiative, which draws together the best minds and resources to assist the recipients to generate meaningful research outcomes that will benefit the WA grains industry.”

DPIRD Grains R&D Post Graduate Scholarship recipients Martin Harries and Andrew Phillips pictured in a laboratory
Martin Harries (left) and Andrew Phillips have each received a DPIRD Grains R&D Post Graduate Scholarships to explore solutions to Western Australian production issues.

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