Brendon Cant brendon at iinet.net.au
Fri Sep 1 05:49:44 CEST 2006





Science and technology based agriculture will play a major role in meeting
the world's increasing demand for food, but who will become the next
generation of Australian scientists?


The University of Western Australia (UWA) Faculty of Natural and
Agricultural Sciences (FNAS) believes the best way to encourage more
students into science is to give them a practical arena for their studies,
and, with this in mind, set up a viticulture project with secondary schools.


As part of this collaborate project, FNAS this week showcased a small
vineyard, at the UWA Shenton Park field station, where students from various
secondary schools can utilise the science they learn in the classroom to
grow grapes and produce wine.


Schools who have so far committed support to the collaboration in
viticulture are Shenton College, whose Year 11 and 12 students designed and
built the vineyard, Duncraig Senior High School, Mt Lawley Senior High and
Christ Church Grammar School. Other schools, including Wesley College, are
also showing interest.


As part of the project, each school will be allocated its own row of grapes.


In his speech to school and Curriculum Council staff at Shenton Park, UWA
Institute of Agriculture Director and Chair in Agriculture, Professor
Kadambot Siddique said Australia's wine industry would not be where it was
today without advances in science and technology.


Professor Siddique said agricultural science was based on many scientific
disciplines such as plant and animal biology, chemistry, mathematics,
physics, soil science and even psychology and sociology, because
agricultural scientists interact with people, growers and industry.


He said advances in modern biology and powerful computation tools would
further enhance the ability to understand plants and animals at the genome
level and their interaction with the environment.


"This will accelerate advances in agriculture, which is, after all, the
mother of all science," he said.


Professor Siddique said immediate challenges for Australian agriculture
included climate variability, cost-price pressure, dryland salinity, soil
acidity, pests, diseases and weed issues, limited diversified farming
systems, shortages of reliable skilled farm labour and a declining and aging
rural population.


"This is an interesting period for young, bright students to undertake
agricultural science degrees and post-graduate research because such
challenges provide exciting opportunities."


Professor Siddique said science teachers played a major role in motivating
and mentoring students to undertake science degrees and the Faculty was keen
to present the importance of science to agriculture, where all UWA graduates
were, typically, employed promptly.


"The project has created some excitement and enthusiasm among participating
teachers, students and their parents," he said.


HYPERLINK "http://www.fnas.uwa.edu.au/"www.fnas.uwa.edu.au


                                                        Authorised by FNAS
and issued on its behalf by Brendon Cant & Associates, Tel 08 9384 1122



Professor Kadambot Siddique, Tel 08 6488 7012, Mobile 0411 155 396





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