[ASC-media] Soil biology research - Where to now?

BRENDON CANT brendon at iinet.net.au
Tue Dec 12 02:27:31 CET 2006

Soil biology research – Where to now?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns =
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At a Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) workshop at University
House Canberra today and tomorrow, opportunities for future research into
soil biology will be canvassed.


GRDC’s manager agronomy soils and environment, Dr Martin Blumenthal, said
“soils are one of the most fundamental and important assets for any land
management activity.


“We will be asking ourselves what will be the new soil biological science
that will take Australia’s grains industry to the next step in profitable
and sustainable production?”


The nature of soil biology in farming systems presents a potentially
limitless number of research options. Through this workshop the GRDC will be
able to focus it’s future research investments that will bring about a whole
system change in how grain growers and researchers deal with soil health and


Grain growers, researchers, advisers and departmental representatives will
participate in the two-day workshop which aims to:

·         Develop clear research priorities for soil biology in farming

·         Involve grain growers and researchers in a joint strategic
planning process

·         Seek advice, identify gaps in planning and define critical drivers
required to deliver maximum benefits to grain growing enterprises

·         Update other rural R&D corporations and researchers on current
activities in soil biology


“Over the past 15 years the GRDC has invested some $20million in the area of
soil chemistry, physics and biology,” Dr Blumenthal said.


“We have delivered research results through various extension programs,
services and products. Outcomes from soil chemistry research for example are
particularly evident in soil testing services. Soil testing can be used to
monitor longer term changes in response to management practices.”


Growers now have available a range of tools and ready reckoners. In
addition, there are innovative scientific assessments such as DNA based
tests offered by the Root Disease Testing Service at SARDI in Adelaide.


Growers and researchers in Australia’s grains industry have shown the
benefits that come from learning from each other. They actively match
research to grower needs.


“A key element of this workshop,” Dr Blumenthal said “is the opportunity it
affords researchers to hear first hand from growers – what has worked and
what they need.”


A review of the outcomes from GRDC-funded projects and updates on the
Healthy Soils Program and the Pasture Soil Biology Alliance will set the
scene for the workshop which will cover:

·         Soil organic matter and carbon – measurement and management and
the influence agronomic practices have

·         Soil biology research across the grain growing regions of

·         Plants as the driver for management of soil biology

·         Temporal and spatial management of soil biota

·         The importance of soil biology in marginal country

·         Mixing, matching and measuring rhizospheres

·         Direct benefits from soil biota including new endophyte inoculants
for cereals, endophytes and ecological succession, symbiotic and
non-symbiotic nitrogen fixation.




Contact: Helen Weldon

Manager, Corporate Communication

0417 237 984; 02 6272 5525


Brendon Cant & Associates
Public Relations & Marketing 
Suite 5
4 Gugeri St
Claremont WA 6010


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