Love is in the air at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and it is the good
‘old-fashioned’ kind that hasn’t been chemically induced and, best of all, it will keep the hormones away from the dinner table.
And it isn’t in the student body, but in the sheep at the UWA Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences School of Animal Biology.
Associate lecturer Dr Penny Hawken is exploring the possibility of controlling sheep reproductive cycles using pheromones (the smell of a ram) instead of hormone treatments, which will help increase the 382,000 tonnes of lamb and 244,000 tonnes of mutton Australia produces, which equates to seven per cent of the world’s supply.
A newly developed pesticide risk assessment method could determine whether climate change will increase or decrease the risk of pesticides leaching through the soil profile and contaminating ground water and the environment.
Rainstorms could be washing pesticides out the farm gate and across the countryside, contaminating water bodies in their wake.
This is a concern, considering that about 31,000 tonnes of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides are applied annually across Australia.
While growing grain in WA is always a risky business, especially so this year, with the drought cutting yields and locusts threatening to cut a swathe through crops, growers also remain unsure of how best to maximise returns.
This year, perhaps more so than most, every dollar counts and due to the current volatile grain trading environment, growers are exploring non-traditional grain trading mediums.
Australia’s 6.6 million tonne barley industry would not be where it is today without a key project in WA that has more than 11,000 lines, comprising wild types, landraces, varieties and breeding lines, in its general barley collection.
The 30 year old barley germplasm enhancement project is located at the University of WA (UWA) Research Station in Shenton Park and has contributed to the development of several successful barely varieties in WA and nationally.