[ASC-media] NO TURNING BACK ON UWA RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA: UWA Institute of Agriculture media statement

Brendon Cant brendon at iinet.net.au
Fri Oct 7 00:49:57 CEST 2011

UWA Institute of Agriculture

MEDIA STATEMENT                                                             

Friday, October 7, 2011




Winthrop Professor Neil Turner, from The University of Western Australia
Institute of Agriculture, has received the prestigious Dunhuang Award from
the Gansu People's Provincial Government as part of the 62nd anniversary of
the foundation of the People's Republic of China. 


Only available to foreigners, it was presented this week in China by the
Gansu Province Governor before more than 300 foreign experts and Gansu
government officials, to recognise Professor Turner's outstanding service
and contribution to the joint UWA and Lanzhou University (LZU) economic,
scientific, academic development and education program in Gansu. 


Of the 10 awardees, he was the only one invited to thank the Gansu
Provincial Bureau for Foreign Expert Affairs for assistance in working with
the Key Laboratory for Grassland and Arid Ecology and to detail how he
helped LZU develop agricultural systems in Gansu.  


Professor Turner, a former CSIRO Scientist and Director of the Centre for
Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture at UWA, who first visited China in
1989, has spent one month a year for several years at LZU, helping staff and
postgraduates with their research and publications. 


He said he greatly appreciated the honour, which reflected not only his
work, but that of a numerous colleagues in UWA's Institute of Agriculture,
who also spent time in Gansu, plus colleagues at LZU. 


"In  particular, I thank Professors Li Fengmin, Xiong Youcai and Li Xiaogang
in the Key Laboratory of Arid and Grassland Ecology at LZU and Winthrop
Professor Kadambot Siddique and Associate Professor Guijun Yan at UWA," he


"My interest is in dryland agriculture and helping farmers increase
production and income from the precipitation on their farms and for the past
25 years I've worked with dryland farmers in Western Australia, which has
similar precipitation to the Loess Plateau, but grows its crops in the
winters, which are not as cold as on the Loess Plateau."


Professor Turner praised Chinese agricultural progress, saying it had come a
long way, including increasing wheat yields 900 per cent from 0.5 t/ha in
1960 to 4.5 t/ha in 2005, by introducing new cultivars, increasing
fertiliser use and developing water-saving agriculture.


"Nevertheless, a 2006 study suggests Chinese farmers are not using the
precipitation as efficiently as possible and I therefore look forward to
coming to Gansu for the next five years to assist the Key Laboratory for
Arid and Grassland Ecology at LZU and to work with farmers to further
improve their yields and water use," he said.


For two weeks in September, Professor Turner and UWA Institute of
Agriculture Director, Professor Siddique, worked with LZU developing plans
to evaluate technologies to assist farmers to increase yields and incomes. 


These include introducing improved cultivars of wheat and barley and grain
and forage legumes to increase protein content and animal production, while
maintaining soil health to withstand wind and water erosion. 


"We also aim to develop improved soil mulching methods and tillage
techniques to increase yields, while using less water," Professor Turner


UWA and LZU plan to develop a joint Centre for Dryland Agricultural
Ecosystems to do collaborative research for the benefit of both Western
Australia and Gansu and encourage regular exchange of staff and students. 


"We hope Gansu Provincial Government will prioritise support for an
initiative which will give Australian researchers access to new facilities
on root growth at LZU and give LZU researchers access to specialist
facilities and expertise for drought research at UWA," Professor Turner


LZU President, Professor Zhou Xuhong recently visited UWA's Crawley campus,
where he agreed to push for five years of funding from the Chinese Ministry
of Education for the second phase of a 111 project, which commenced with UWA
in 2007.


The 111 project aims to invite 1000 world-class academics from the world's
top 100 universities to establish 100 innovative bases in China.


LZU is also expected to develop research links with 'Ridgefield', the UWA
Future Farm at Pingelly, which is hosting a whole farm carbon emissions
field day on Tuesday, October 18.



Authorised by 'The UWA Institute of Agriculture' and issued on its behalf by

Brendon Cant & Associates (+61) 8 9731 6739

Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique, 

Director, The UWA Institute of Agriculture

(+61) 0411 155 396





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