Melbourne to lead new soil research centre with CAU

April 16 / 180

The Australian and Chinese governments have provided $1 million each to fund a new soils research centre, led by the University of Melbourne and China Agricultural University.

The Australia-China Joint Research Centre of Healthy Soils for Sustainable Food Production and Environmental Quality will focus on how the nations can ensure sustainable food production while minimising negative environmental and social impacts.

The joint research centre will aim to allow both nations to introduce new technologies and management practices to improve agricultural productivity while reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture by reducing waste and nutrient waste, developing climate-resilient systems and rehabilitating contaminated soils. 

Professor Deli Chen, director of the centre, said soil is the foundation for sustainable agricultural development, but is a non-renewable resource.  

“Australia is experiencing increasing soil losses, soil degradation and growing evidence of yield gaps due to inefficiencies in nutrient and water use, while China must provide quality food for its growing population from finite land resources without further degrading soil and water resources," Professor Chen said.

He said the centre would also increase international engagement and research collaboration with China and would provide opportunities for bilateral study and research, to develop an evidence-based sustainability index for agricultural produces.

Federal science and industry minister Christopher Pyne announced the Health Soils centre along with five others during a recent visit to China.

He said these would help Australian institutions build links to China.

“This will build Australia’s research capacity, forge strategic alliances and increase commercialisation and application of research outcomes, boosting innovation and international competitiveness.”

Story by Stuart Winthrope

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