Research at The University of Western Australia into new farming practices that will reduce greenhouses gases, sequester carbon and enhance sustainability has attracted $6.7 million Federal funding.
The Federal Government's ‘Filling the Research Gap' project, part of its Carbon Farming Initiative, is supporting 10 major UWA projects.
More than $2.25 million was allocated to three projects relating to reducing the amount of plant-based methane produced by grazing farm animals. The projects will identify pasture species to reduce methane and emissions intensity in southern grazing systems; identify shrubs and other inter-row plant species that may produce less methane in grazing systems; and find out how certain plants and products may reduce methane production in the rumen (the first ‘stomach' in animals such as sheep and cattle).
An investigation into whether increasing soil carbon in sandy soils increases soil nitrous oxide emissions from grain production was allocated more than $700,000.
Carbon sequestration projects received more than $760,000. One will examine mitigating greenhouse gases with nitrification inhibitors and biochar (carbon-rich materials) in fallows (ploughed but uncropped land) and the other will look at building soil health and carbon with pasture management.
A project related to reducing manure emissions attracted more than $650,000 and will analyse moderating the greenhouse gas potential of Australian soils amended with livestock manure.
Researchers were also allocated more than $1.38 million for collaborative projects with the WA No-Tillage Farmers Association and the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre for research into carbon amendments in no-tillage cropping systems and assessing the role of perennial forage plants in improving the management of soil carbon.
As well, funding of more than $1 million was awarded for a joint project with the Department of Agriculture and Food WA to research the viability of sequestering carbon in grain production systems. It will investigate the stability of soil carbon under variable climate and management practices.
Dean of the University's Faculties of Science, Winthrop Professor Tony O'Donnell, said the University's success in attracting significant funding highlighted the Federal Government's confidence in the ability of the University's researchers to develop low-carbon farming methods that would benefit all West Australians and be models for farming into the future.