A sustainable grazing system using native perennial shrubs to feed livestock and developed by Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre has won the Caring for our Country Landcare Eureka Prize for Sustainable Agriculture.
The Enrich project team is led by researchers from The University of Western Australia, CSIRO and the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Field trials included a shrub site at UWA Future Farm 2050 at Pingelly, which is holding its annual Field Day today from noon to 4pm.
Enrich is a collaborative effort of researchers, extension staff and land managers across southern Australia. The team discovered that grazing native shrubs could improve profitability by up to 24 per cent in low-to-medium rainfall areas, as well as decrease greenhouse gas emissions and erosion.
Associate Professor Phil Vercoe, from UWA's School of Animal Biology and Institute of Agriculture, is researching the chemistry of native plants as part of the Enrich project.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said the Eureka Prize was recognition of the ground-breaking research of the collaborative team in agricultural science.
"UWA is proud of the outstanding work being done by our researchers in multi-disciplinary teams to improve the long-term sustainability of agriculture and natural resource management," Professor Johnson said.
The 2013 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes were presented in Sydney on Wednesday night. They are Australia's most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across four categories of research and innovation, leadership and commercialisation, science communication and journalism and school science.
Professor Johnson said UWA had been supporting agricultural industries across Australia since its establishment 100 years ago and was recently ranked 26th in the world for life and agricultural sciences, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
"Our researchers are using innovative science to find new ways to farm sustainably while meeting the challenge of producing enough food to feed a world population that will grow by 50 per cent to nine billion people by the year 2050," he said.
UWA Future Farm 2050 is a large-scale laboratory for advanced research into farming systems by scientists from WA's leading university.