BRENDON CANT brendon at iinet.net.au
Tue Jul 31 12:35:25 CEST 2007

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Juggling work commitments and study has paid off for three University of
Western Australia (UWA) post-graduate students who recently completed their
theses with the Western Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (WAHRI).


David Minkey, Catherine Borger and David Ferris were granted study leave
from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) to complete their
PhDs with WAHRI.


Based at the UWA School of Plant Biology, they will soon be awarded
doctorates for their research.


WAHRI Director, Professor Stephen Powles is very impressed with the
graduates’ dedication and commitment, acknowledging their research training
would help graingrowers.


“The three projects were quite diverse, examining regional differences in
ryegrass adaptation, identifying new roly poly grass species and assessing
ants as potential weed control agents,” he said.


David Ferris examined ryegrass biology throughout the WA grainbelt,
comparing different regions and adaptation rates.


“He crossed diploid ryegrass from the WA wheatbelt with tetrapoid ryegrass
and showed it produced a sterile tetrapoid,” Professor Powles said.


“This will ultimately assist growers by removing resistance genetically.  A
number of growers have planted tetrapoid ryegrass as pasture and won’t be
disappointed since it’s a vigorous grower,” he said. 


Catherine Borger studied the biology and management of roly poly, or
tumbleweed and found that the major WA species, thought to be an immigrant
from the USA, was actually native to Australia. She renamed this species
Salsola australis.


Her Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) supported PhD
discovered the US tumbleweed species was more competitive than S. australis
in cropping.


“So, quarantine should attempt to prevent it entering Australia,” Professor
Powles said.  


Mr Ferris and Ms Borger have returned to DAFWA and are based at Northam and


David Minkey received a WAHRI and GRDC scholarship for his PhD on weed
management in no-tillage systems, focusing on weed seed predation by ants.


According to Mr Minkey, ants have a significant role as weed control agents
because they remove large numbers of seeds.


“This helps regulate weed populations so they don’t blow out,” he said.


“No-till systems have greater ant predation and subsequent seed loss and
combining predation and decay is more important for seed loss than
germination alone.”


As WAHRI extension officer, Mr Minkey runs integrated weed management
courses as part of a Weed CRC initiative, organises farmer groups and
addresses eastern states grower groups visiting WAHRI.


He encouraged graduates with research aspirations in agricultural and
natural resource management to become involved with UWA’s post-graduate
program at the Institute of Agriculture.


“Research students receive financial support, ready access to all facilities
and the independence to explore ideas with support from world class
scientists dedicated to cultivating students’ research endeavours,” Mr
Minkey said.


“UWA’s strong fundamental research track record and links with industry,
farmer groups and national and international organisations means research is
applied directly in the field to help better Australian agriculture.”


Professor Powles congratulated DAFWA on providing study leave for the three
young scientists to realise their ambitions of completing a PhD. 


“The capacity building partnership between DAFWA and UWA continues to
strengthen,” he said.


“I believe all three graduates will make major contributions to WA


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


Authorised by ‘Institute of Agriculture – UWA’ and issued on its behalf by

Brendon Cant & Associates, Tel 08 9384 1122



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

Professor Stephen Powles, Tel 08 6488 7833

 David Minkey, Tel 08 6488 7872

 David Ferris, Tel 08 9690 2117

 Catherine Borger, Tel 08 9081 3149







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