The UWA Institute of Agriculture

Water for food production

Further Information

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Program Leaders

 

At a time of climate change and other challenges for agriculture, our program contributes to the productivity and sustainability of plant-based Australian agriculture through the application of science and technology.

Expertise

Our staff, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate student activities cover two areas extensive and intensive agriculture.

As well as excellent laboratories and plant growth facilities on the main UWA campus, there are research centres focused on plant production systems:

  • Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA)
  • CRC-Future Farming Industries
  • Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI)
  • International Centre for Plant Breeding Education and Research (ICPBER).

There is a canola breeding company (CBWA) based at UWA, while the Shenton Park field station carries out field agronomic experiments, plant breeding and other plant production activities.

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Challenges

Global climate change is a challenge for extensive and intensive agriculture. Extensive agriculture is also subject to major productivity and sustainability challenges in the Australian grain belt, particularly in Western Australia where rising saline water tables is causing land degradation.

Intensive cropping faces a challenge from high weed pressures due to widespread evolution of herbicide resistance in weeds. Other challenges are high labour costs, transport to overseas markets and rising land costs.

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New science and technology

Priorities to meet these challenges are an integrated approach to breeding and/or adapting new cultivars, high yield and quality and post-harvest maintenance of quality.

Intensively grown plants, especially in marginal areas, require balanced water and nutrient supply and protection from disease and pest attacks.

Research in understanding plant stress physiology and the associated biochemistry, proteomics and genomics, and integrated pest and disease control are key to the further development of these industries.

Other important research areas include:

  • evaluation of the potential for nutraceutical/pharmaceutical value of products
  • post-harvest handling and processing
  • agronomy of diverse crops
  • artificial manipulation of growth and reproduction under Australian conditions.

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Postgraduates

Postgraduate students who are researching in this program are:

Graduated students