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Australia-China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement

Overview of Project

The Australian and Chinese governments signed ACACA in 1984. The program enhances cooperation in activities related to agriculture, fisheries and forestry by helping to develop trading relationships and facilitating the exchange of technical information between Australia and China.

DAFF and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China (MOA) jointly fund and administer the agreement. Forestry delegation visits are co-funded by DAFF and the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China

Key Outcomes of Project

Since 1984, over 200 delegations have been exchanged in areas as diverse as:

  • horticulture
  • beef
  • dairy
  • wool
  • fisheries
  • forestry
  • food safety
  • agricultural and food processing, storage and transport
  • agricultural economics
  • land and water management technology
Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2014

Download DocumentsLaunch Website

Supply Chain and Economics in Melons in China and Australia

Overview of Project

To use supply chain assessment and cost benefit analysis of potential innovations as drivers of technological adoption in entrepreneurial decision making at the farm level in melon production and marketing.

Key Outcomes of Project
  • Understanding the existing typical supply chains of melon production and distribution, including the precise nature of transport conditions, problems arising and personnel/agents involved in long distance haulage during representative journeys
  • Strategic analysis of business/power relationships between chain members in selected melon supply chains
  • Identification of the cost benefits of preharvest disease control and the use of postharvest technologies
  • Identification of the major factors affecting the adoption of the postharvest technology for melons, including risks, extension issues and supply chain member relationships
  • Appropriate training activities and materials for suitable supply chain members and extension officers to ensure on-going uptake of the project outcomes
  • Case study material (e.g. supply chain dynamics and consumer views on melon quality) that can be used for policy development
  • Improved supply chain management by the key stakeholders in the pilot supply chains
Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Partners

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Sub-Project 3 of Project PHT/1998/140: Postharvest Handling and Disease Control in Melons in China and Australia

Launch Website

China – Bayer Crop Science Study Tour to Western Australia

Overview of Project

AGWEST Food Security provided a Western Australia Study Tour and Training Program for 12 senior Chinese agribusiness managers, led by Bayer Crop Science China. The program included presentations and site visits covering best practice in pest management, farmer extension and food safety, as well as participation in a ChemCert Western Australia Inc specialist training course in farm chemical handling and management procedures.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

China and South East Asia (2004)

Overview of Project

AGWEST Food Security was the lead agency providing AusAID-funded training in the region, covering epidemiology and risk assessment to underpin the establishment of disease-free animal zones. Shandong Animal Husbandry Bureau hosted the event.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

AGWEST animal bio-security, post harvest technology and pasture and fodder production. (1998 - 2006)

Overview of Project

Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese State Association for Foreign Expert Affairs, AGWEST Food Security placed staff on short-term technical exchange visits throughout China covering animal bio-security, post harvest technology and pasture and fodder production.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

BREEDPLAN

Overview of Project

BREEDPLAN is a modern genetic evaluation system for beef cattle. Using Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP) technology, BREEDPLAN produces Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for cattle for a range of important production traits. The BREEDPLAN software has been developed by the Animal Genetics & Breeding Unit (AGBU), which is a joint venture of the University of New England (UNE) and NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), with support from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). The BREEDPLAN technology is marketed by the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI).

The BREEDPLAN technology is highly regarded in a number of overseas countries where it is made available under licence. BREEDPLAN has been implemented as the national beef recording scheme in Australia, New Zealand, Namibia, Thailand and the Philippines, and its use is also increasing in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Hungary, South America and South Africa.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Launch Website

Tropical Rock Lobster Hatchery Project

Overview of Project

For more than a decade through its Rock Lobster Enhancement and Aquaculture Subprogram, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has provided leadership and investment to support co-investments by private and other government agencies that are involved with R&D into rocklobster fisheries, biology and culture. This has included scientists in Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland working on the four rocklobster species that are commercially fished (Eastern Jasus verreauxi, Southern J. edwardsii, Western Panulirus cygnus and Tropical P. ornatus).

A custom-built water management system at NFC has been developed to ensure that the estuarine inlet water is treated to produce oceanic quality water. A battery of filters, ozone steriliser, UV treatments and other components are used to provide water of the highest quality.

Summer conditions are ‘manufactured’ for the wild caught broodstock, usually five females to one male. Clive says that they are able to spawn year round by mimicking the water temperatures and photoperiods. “After some multiple spawnings we sell the broodstock and get in a new batch. In time we will develop our own selective breeding program using hatchery progeny.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Launch Website

Achieving food security in China - implications of WTO accession

Overview of Project

This project studied the implications of China internationalising its food economy, analysed the effect on the country’s food policies of China joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and devised a set of policies to help improve China’s food security.

Since gaining WTO accession China has begun to liberalise its agricultural trade. In the short term, the impact will be limited. However, global trade liberalisation is likely to increase in the future. Whatever policies the country chooses to adopt in response, there will be changes to the economy - including effects on rural incomes and food security. The Chinese government will therefore need to set up policies to assist disadvantaged groups and help with a smooth transition. The choice of food policy in China will not only have a significant impact on the country’s own economic structure, but will also help shape the pattern of world food trade and hence have important implications for major food-exporting countries such as Australia.

Joining the WTO came at a critical point in China’s agricultural history. In the mid-1990s, domestic prices for major grain products, including rice, wheat and corn, rose rapidly towards (and even sometimes above) international prices. China could subsidise farmers and maintain prices for its own grains above international levels, or it could tax farmers (as in the past) by forcing its prices below world prices, or it could opt to open its markets to world trade.

The impact of these Government decisions will determine whether internationalisation of the food economy would destabilise the domestic food market; whether the country could earn enough foreign exchange if it had to import grain; and whether freer trade in food would prevent further increases to farmers’ incomes and so widen the already large rural-urban gap in the country."

Key Outcomes of Project

A general equilibrium model of the Chinese economy with regional dimensions (CERD) was developed that included the eastern coastal, central and western regions. The model described five agricultural sectors and 39 non-agricultural sectors and distinguished between rural and urban households.

The modelling analysis found that regional income disparity, which has been worsening since 1991 will be reinforced rather than eased by the WTO accession. The eastern coastal region will have much higher gains than the inland regions. The analysis also revealed that the rural-urban inequality will worsen in all regions.

A new version of CERD with disaggregated agricultural sectors predicted that agricultural sectors would be adversely affected by the WTO accession: agricultural output would fall, grain and total food self-sufficiency rates would decline. However, the magnitudes of the impacts were determined to be smaller than initially anticipated.

It was consistently shown that the trade reforms China adopted in order to accede to the WTO will mean substantial structural changes within the agricultural sector. The reforms would seem to result in substantial negative impacts across the sector and a worsening of food security in the sense of reduced access to income. However, it cannot be stated too strongly that the outcomes of the reform have to be analysed from an economy-wide perspective.

In China, as in other rural-based countries, the main factors behind reductions in rural poverty will be the scope for rural households to earn off-farm income and for people to move from rural areas into industrial and services activities in urban centres. Therefore, to a very large extent, the success of the trade reforms will depend upon policies outside of agriculture.

The modelling has also shown that China’s monetary policy regime of the fixed yuan and capital controls has increased the rural-urban income gap by raising real wages and reducing employment growth in the non-agricultural sectors. Moving away from this monetary policy regime could lead to a much more rapid relocation of labour out of agriculture and thereby promote a reduction in the rural-urban income gap.

The study found that the entry into the WTO has boosted China’s trade in agriculture, especially its agricultural imports. China has had two consecutive years of trade deficit in agricultural trade since 2004. The country has no comparative advantage in land-intensive agricultural production and, as found in the study, the comparative advantage indices of these agricultural products have been speedily declining since China’s entry into the WTO. The pattern of China’s agricultural trade is consistent with the country’s comparative advantage and resource endowments. After the entry into the WTO, this pattern has been strengthened, indicating that China is moving closer to its comparative advantage in agricultural trade with the rest of the world.

The research team studied what economic effects the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) will have as it is established in two stages before 2010. The study predicted that CAFTA will increase social welfare and promote real GDP in both economies. There will be a large trade creation effect among the CAFTA members, and their total exports will increase during the implementation phase. However, there may be a trade diversion effect as trade between members and other regions decline after CAFTA’s creation. But as a whole, total world trade will increase, especially in the second stage of the full implementation of CAFTA.

The integration of the Chinese and ASEAN economies also provides opportunities for other agricultural exporting countries to increase their trade to both markets. These will come in agricultural commodities for which neither China nor ASEAN have a comparative advantage - such as cereals, milk, beef and raw materials."

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Partners

Australian National University - Australia
Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy - China
China Center for Economic Research - China

Leaders

Dr Chen Chunlai

Email

chunlai.chen@anu.edu.au

Phone

(02) 6125-6565

Launch Website

Dairy progression through cooperation

Overview of Project

Following on report written for the Victorian Government by Scott Barnett & Associates on Opportunities for Chinese Investors in the Victorian Dairy Industry, SBA and Carlisle Partners identified the need for Australian producers to integrate into the Chinese value add stream that Chinese investors are able to provide. The goal is to align undercapitalised Australian agricultural producers and processors with Chinese co-investors who are able to also provide distribution channels and/or end markets in China. The project's aim to to deliver high margin markets for Australian agricultural producers and processors while providing Chinese market with farm to plate traceability product that meet the 3 S criteria (Safety, Security, Status)

Key Outcomes of Project

Specific outcomes are commercial-in-confidence at this stage. In general terms outcomes so far: 1. Identified Australia's Bio-security status enables Australia to be an entry point for the world's animal genetics to China 2. Chinese investment can act as a catalyst to provide cohesion to the fragmented value chain in Australia and to its export markets 3. The vertical integration of many Chinese agribusiness companies provide a distribution channel for Australian input suppliers into China (e.g. Chinese coin vestment in animal genetics business provides access for Australian genetics to the much larger scale Chinese market

Project Dates

01 Apr 2013 - 01 Jun 2015

Partners

Scott Barnett & Associates
Carlisle Partners

Leaders

Scott Barnett
John Allen

Email

scott.sba@bigpond.com
jallen@carlislepartners.com

Phone

61428461566
+61292399050

The Center for Carbon, Water and Food (University of Sydney)

Overview of Project

The Centre for Carbon, Water and Food is a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to tackling the nations and region's biggest food security and environmental challenges through the integrated study of carbon, food and water. The centre has recently signed memorandum of understandings with both the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science and Nanjing Agricultural University. These agreements will establish the Sino-Australia Joint Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems and the Sino-Australian Laboratory for Food Security at the Sydney University campus with reciprocal facilities in China.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - On Going

Partners

University of Sydney

Joint Sino-Australian Laboratory for Food Security 

Overview of Project

The Joint Sino-Australian Laboratory for Food Security will focus on four major areas of research:

  •  Crop protection and improvement – the development of plant breeds for resistance to biotic and abiotic stress and for improved yield.
  • precision agriculture - new technologies to improve efficiency of land and resource management
  • climate change - securing soil and water resources and managing the atmosphere
  • food security - development of economic and social policy to secure food supply.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

University of Sydney
Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science
Nanjing Agricultural University

Launch Website

Joint Sino-Australia Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems

Overview of Project


The Joint Sino-Australia Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems will focus on research in:

  •  adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects on agro-ecosystems including reduction of greenhouse gas emission from the agriculture sector
  • improvement of soil quality, especially the soil carbon and nutrient content
  •  reduction of water consumption in agriculture production
  •  prevention and reduction effects of plant pests and diseases on cereal production
  •  treatment and recycling of poultry litter and livestock manure.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

University of Sydney
Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science
Nanjing Agricultural University

Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity

Overview of Project

The Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRCNPB) has developed memoranda of understanding with two leading Chinese science agencies and a university to mount joint research programs aimed at curbing losses of grain and other vital crops to insects, moulds and plant diseases. Worldwide losses to insects and moulds are between 8 and 20% of global annual grain harvest – enough food to feed every hungry person on the planet.

Key Outcomes of Project

The initial research focus of the new collaboration will be in:
• Diagnostics including the timely identification of plant pests and diseases.
• The management of pests in stored grain.
• The aim is to reduce the losses incurred by insects and moulds, but without resorting to increased use of fumigants and other chemicals used in food production.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine
Chinese Academy of State Administration of Grain
Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University

Launch Website

Australia-China Centre for Wheat Improvement

Overview of Project

The Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Wheat Improvement (ACCWI) will identify grain quality attributes by characterising and catalogue grain proteins (the key determinants of grain quality).  This will enable Australian grown wheat to better penetrate the China speciality product market and to increase wheat yield through genetic, molecular marker and bioinformatics technologies.

Key Outcomes of Project
 
  • Improved wheat cultivar selection in Western Australia and China to better match varieties grown for food, especially noodle, processing in China.
  • The development of grain quality forecasting tools that will improve the agronomic management and strategic marketing of high quality grains
  • Establishing the basis for the development of new wheat cultivars with superior grain quality
  • Identifying genetic resources for new wheat cultivars that are adapted to regional specific conditions; and
  • Increased food security through improved supply consistency of high quality wheat products
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

Murdoch University
The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Agriculture and Food and Australia Export
Grain Innovation Centre
Western Australia
FBFD Pty Ltd
Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Shangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Capital Normal University

Launch Website

Australia China Joint Research Centre for River Basin Management

Overview of Project

Maximising water security and efficiency while preserving water ecosystems is a global challenge exacerbated by changing climates and rapidly increasing populations. This joint research centre will act as a research incubator to address national priorities for water resources management, increase water productivity and hence food security and economic returns while protecting water ecosystems.

Key Outcomes of Project

Key activities:

  •  Development of joint cross disciplinary research programs
  •  Showcase innovative technologies in water resource management
  •  Establish enduring partnerships between researchers and water agencies
  •  Develop technology and systems that improved environmental sustainability and the sustainability of rural communities.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

The University of Melbourne
Department of Water Resources
China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research
CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship
Southern Rural Water-Victoria
Goulburn-Broken Catchment Authority
Murray-Darling Basin Authority
CRC eWater
CRC Spatial Information
The University of Western Sydney
Department of Primary Industries- Victoria
Orica
Rubicon
NICTA Technology
The Yellow River Conservation Committee
World Bank in Beijing
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Gansu Provincial Water Resources Department
Tsinghua University
Haihe River Water Conservancy Committee
China Three Gorges Corporation
Northwestern N&F University
Chinese Agricultural University

Launch Website

Australian-China Research Centre for Crop Improvement

Overview of Project

"ACRCCI focuses on discovering key genes and biological processes controlling plant development and stress tolerance to improve food security and agricultural sustainability. Improving crop productivity and stress tolerance is crucial to underpin sustainable agriculture and social stability worldwide. The issue has become particularly urgent in recent years in light of

  1.  the demand to double world crop yield by 2050 to feed more people with less arable land and
  2.  the increased incidents of Global warming-associated drought, salt and heat stresses and pathogen and pest infections.

To tackle this challenge, plant biologists and crop scientists from both countries have initiated strategic collaborative research in recent years with complementary expertise and facilities. The collaboration has begun to yield valuable outcomes and opened enormous opportunities and potentials for crop genetic improvement"

Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - On Going

Launch Website

Implementing INFFER (Investment Framework for Environmental Resources) in North-western China

Overview of Project

In China’s transition to a modern economy, development in the North-western China has been slower than in eastern regions, although still impressive by global standards. The government strongly publicises that environmental preservation is an important component of opening up the west. Soil erosion in the Loess Plateau has intensified sedimentation of the Yellow River. Pressure of population growth and economic growth has led to overuse of water, over grazing and cropping, which induce desertification, vegetation degeneration. There is great need for comprehensive analysis of environmental protection according to social and natural elements. The Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) is designed to provide a logical and robust framework to help environmental managers (national, and regional levels) make decisions about environmental protection and achievement of desired outcomes in the most cost-effective way. INFFER focuses on assets – areas of the natural environment that are considered to have significant or very high value from society’s perspective. In this project, INFFER will be applied in North-western China to environmental assets of varying size, from large such as large lake and river systems to small discrete assets. This will be helpful for sustainable development of the vulnerable regions in China.

Key Outcomes of Project
  • This research implemented INFFER in three regions in North-western China and assess its potential to be used by Chinese government. The project was conducted in partnership with relevant government and scientific agencies under the co-leadership of Professor Qiang Yu and Dr. Anna Roberts. The processes to achieve include the following:
  • identified and engaged with key scientific and government personnel in each region to assess their interest
  • Translation of INFFER training materials into Chinese
  • Following training, to assess whether adaptation of the INFFER framework is required to meet national, provincial or regional government needs
  • Development of detailed INFFER analyses. This involved collation and integration of available scientific, technical, socio-economic and financial information required for each environmental asset based project. Specific research addressed knowledge gaps, such as spatial biophysical modelling of crop yield over Loess Plateau. This provide information for nominated and trained asset leaders, and is specific input by scientific and socio-economic disciplines in China.
  • Presentation of preliminary results to key government agencies and policy makers, and then modification of goals/scenarios for particular assets as required
  • Modification of analyses if required to address interests and priorities of government policy makers
  • Assessment of whether INFFER can assist government decision-making and development of recommendations to assist current decision making
  • Journal papers and final project report, including a comparative analysis of the relevance of INFFER in the Chinese context and comparison with Australian context
Project Dates

01 Jun 2011 - 31 May 2013

Partners

University of Technology Sydney
Victoria Department of Primary Industries
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Northwest Agricultural and Forest University

Leaders

Qiang Yu

Email

Qiang.Yu@uts.edu.au

Phone

0424 068 418

China Barley Collaboration

Overview of Project

Soil acidity, salinity, waterlogging, drought and frost are key factors limiting barley growing areas and sustainability of production in Australia. Australian barley lacks genetic variation for tolerance to these stresses. Previous projects demonstrated China's barley is highly valuable to Australian breeding program. This proposal focuses on
(1) screening 1000 barley accessions for acid soil, drought, frost or salinity tolerance in China,
(2) identification and characterization of new genes from the Chinese germplasm for abiotic stress tolerance, and
(3) introduction and evaluation of 100 barley accessions in Australia. In addition, over 100 barley varieties introduced from the previous projects will be evaluated and integrated into Australian breeding programs for waterlogging tolerance. The new germplasm and genes for the abiotic stress tolerance will improve Australian barley production efficiency and stability, and extend barley production to more marginal soils.

Implications

  1. Introduce new barley germplasm from China and deliver novel germplasm to the breeding programs for tolerance to acid soil, salinity, frost or drought;
  2. Develop elite germplasm with acid soil and waterlogging tolerance and deliver this material to the breeding programs; and
  3. Develop new analysis methods and molecular tools for the barley breeders to improve breeding and selection efficiency for acid soil, salinity, frost or drought tolerance.

Objectives

  1. Improvements in the sustainability and efficiency of Australia’s barley industry through new germplasm, new genes and new breeding technologies;
  2. Increased grain yields and the extension of barley production to more marginal soils;
  3. Attracting Chinese undergraduates and post-graduates to Australian universities;
  4. Improvements in research efficiency through collaborative research with China where labour and operational costs are much lower.
Key Outcomes of Project

Outcomes

  1. Screening approximately 1,000 Chinese barley accessions for acid soil, frost, salinity or drought tolerance in six Chinese institutes with emphasis on germplasm from the low rainfall regions of Tibet and North-Western China. The introduction of over 100 accessions to Australia for further evaluation.
  2. Molecular markers for salinity or acid soil tolerance, developed from Chinese barley germplasm, made available for Australian breeding programs; development of a technique for salinity tolerance screening completed and available to any other programs; some of the physiological mechanisms for waterlogging, frost and salinity tolerance revealed, for use as selection criteria in breeding programs.
  3. Validation and integration of Chinese barley germplasm for acid soil, waterlogging or salinity tolerance in Australian barley breeding programs.
Project Dates

29 Jun 2009 - 29 Jun 2013

Partners

Department of Agriculture & Food Western Australia

Launch Website

Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region, PR China

Overview of Project

This project was aimed at increasing the output of dairy products in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the Peoples’ Republic of China (TAR) at the time of the project, milk supply was identified as being well below demand and deficits were predicted for the coming decade. Grain production in TAR, whilst sufficient to satisfy demand for human consumption, it also needed to be increased to support supplementation of livestock diets (particularly dairy cattle). The project was directed at increasing household income and industry productivity and at developing community-based initiatives in dairy, crop and fodder production for farmers in the central valleys of TAR (Shigatse, Lhasa, Shannon and Linzhi Prefectures). The objective of the project is to understand and utilise the key factors affecting the adoption of improved technology, this includes identifying the attitudes of farmers, practical constraints and opportunities in implementation of recommendations, and initiating strategies and structures for extension.

Key Outcomes of Project

The overall objective of the project is to improve the incomes of Tibetan farmers on mixed crop/livestock farms by boosting grain, fodder and dairy production achieved through the adoption of technology on farms. The project builds on two earlier projects in Tibet: CIM/2002/093 ‘Intensifying grain and fodder production in Central Tibet farming systems’ and LPS/2002/104 ‘Increasing milk production from cattle in Tibet’. Specific aims addressed in 2009 (the second year of the project) were: the establishment of research programs to improve methods of grain, fodder and dairy production; on-farm evaluation of methods to boost cereal, fodder and dairy production; and the enhancement of research and extension capacity in Tibet. An external review conducted by the Prof Dennis Poppi (School of Animal Studies & Veterinary Science, University of Queensland), Prof David Connor (Emeritus Professor, University of Melbourne) and Mr Wang Jian (Office of Poverty Alleviation and Integrated Agricultural Development of Tibet Autonomous Region) concluded that the project had achieved most of its objectives, already had a good record of publication, and could see signs of adoption of the results in cropping and animal nutrition practices in the field. However the reviewers also felt that, in reality, much data remained to be analysed, interpreted in context and prepared for publication for various audiences. Having lost much of the first year of the project because Australian members were unable to enter TAR, data collection was to continue in the final year (2011). Given that, and a detailed but ambitious plan to complete and publish all data from the project the reviewers supported a proposed extension of the project from the original completion date of March 31, 2012 to the end of 2012, with funding to support essential travel and other activities for effective interaction between key staff members.

Project Dates

01 Apr 2008 - 31 Mar 2012

Partners

University of Adelaide - Australia Industry & Investment NSW - Australia
Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences - China
Tibet Livestock Research Institute - China
Tibet Agricultural Research Institute - China
University of Queensland - Australia
Department of Primary Industries and Resources - South Australia - Australia

Leaders

Dr Ann McNeill

Email

ann.mcneill@adelaide.edu.au

Phone

08 8303 8108

Launch Website

Improving farmer livelihoods through efficient use of resources in crop-livestock farming systems in western China: an analysis of institutional and policy settings

Overview of Project

Within the broader ACIAR Project LWR/2007/191, ""Improving farmer livelihoods through efficient use of resources in crop-livestock farming systems in western China"", this sub-project aims to identify and analyse institutional and policy settings relevant to crop-livestock systems in Qingyang City in Gansu Province. The rationale for the sub-project is that the broader project will have greater impact, and farmers will realise greater benefits, if project research is aligned with local institutional priorities and policies. In addition to better targeting of project research, the potential for research findings to influence policy makers, and for policy needs to influence science communication, will be explored. The components of the sub-project are

  • Identification and analysis of institutional settings
  • Identification and analysis of policy settings
  • Develop linkages between science and policy
Key Outcomes of Project

Brown, C.G., Waldron S.A., Liu, Y.M. and Longworth, J.W. (2009) Forage-livestock policies designed to improve livelihoods in Western China: a critical review. China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 1, Issue 4, 367-381 Komarek, A., Waldron, S., & Brown, C. (2012). An exploration of livestock development policies in western China. Food Policy, 37(1), 12-20. Komarek, A., S. Waldron, and C. Brown, Livestock expansion as a development pathway: a heterogeneous-agent model for smallholders in Gansu, China, in 55th Annual Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference. 2011: Melbourne.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2008 - 01 Jan 2013

Partners

Nan Zhibiao and Hou Fujiang
Lanzhou University
The Animal Husbandry Bureaus of Qingyang City
Xifeng District and Huanxian County
UQ collaborating partner
Liu Yuman
Rural Development

Launch Website

Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region: an economic evaluation of household livelihoods

Overview of Project

Within the broader ACIAR Project LPS/2006/119 ""Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region"", this sub-project aims to evaluate the impact of on-farm cereal, fodder and dairy cattle nutrition options on household livelihoods. More specifically, analysis will:

  • Develop representative whole farm household models for systems under investigation
  • Collate information from surveys, interviews, project research and other sources for use in household models
  • Analyse impact of crop, feed and livestock options on household costs and returns (including opportunity costs and imputed returns), labour and land use, and other livelihood indicators
  • Assess household impacts against household objectives and constraints to adoption
Key Outcomes of Project

Brown, C. G., & Waldron, S., A. (2013). Agrarian change, agricultural modernization and the modelling of agricultural households in Tibet. Agricultural Systems, 115, 83-94. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2012.09.008. Brown, C.G. and Waldron, S.A. 2012. CAEGTibet Manual. CAEG Working Paper 01/12, China Agricultural Economics Group, The University of Queensland, Brisbane Brown, C. G., & Waldron, S. A. (2013). Agricultural specialisation and rural development in Tibet. Paper presented at the XI ECARDC (European Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development in China), Wuerzberg. Heath, T., Tao, J., Brown, C. G., Waldron, S. A., Wlikins, J., Piltz, J., Cummins, J., Rose, C., Coventry, D. and McNeill, A. (2012). Integrated agronomic and economic analysis of fodder options for Tibetan farming systems. Paper presented at the 16th Australian Agronomy Conference ""Capturing Opportunities and Overcoming Obstacles in Australian Agronomy"", Armidale. Brown, C. and S. Waldron, Role of agriculture in the livelihoods of farm households in Tibet, in 55th Annual Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference 2011: Melbourne.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2008 - 01 Jan 2013

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Science (TAAS)
Dr Nyima Tashi - Vice President of TAAS
Jin Tao - TAAS Tibet Agricultural Research Institute
Prof Se Zhu and Dr Tsamyu TAAS Tibet Livestock Research Institute

Launch Website

Evaluation of opportunities and constraints for R&D investment into increasing water productivity of agriculture in north-western China

Overview of Project

An increase in rainwater use efficiency through innovative technologies can have a significant impact on production in the rainfed farming systems of north-west China and south-western Australia, where shortages of water occur in late spring and early summer. ACIAR contracted a team whose major task was to identify investment priorities and develop project design principles for a coherent and effective cluster of projects to increase the productivity of agricultural water in north-west China. The ultimate goal is to improve farmer incomes in dryland farming systems of Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in north-west China by developing and promoting the adoption of practical, low-cost technologies of rainwater harvesting and in-field soil water conservation. In south-western Australia researchers examined the potential to reuse fresh water harvested from surface and subsurface drains and then develop technologies for supplemental irrigation of wheat and canola.

Key Outcomes of Project

The four-person mission followed an internal ACIAR ‘Water Use in China’ workshop in August 2007, at which key ACIAR Australian co-operators presented progress reports on their current China projects. The mission spent two weeks in China in November/December 2007 and during that time held meetings and discussions with more than 30 agencies, institutions, farmer groups, individual farmers, and various levels of government.

In March/April 2008, the team conducted workshops in Lanzhou and Beijing with stakeholders to discuss an Interim Paper published in late 2007 and then refine its recommendations.

At the end of these two missions to China the team recognised that Gansu Province is facing a major crisis in terms of water supplies for irrigation. China (and Gansu) are already responding to this situation, especially in terms of saving irrigation water by lining distribution canals and commencing water allocation, quota and payment systems. Unfortunately this response has not always been supported with widespread on-the-ground application of existing and proven on-farm water use efficiency (WUE) technologies. However, programs which include government subsidies for technology, such as plastic film for mulching, are being well adopted. There have also been large government-supported programs to collect water in dryland areas for use in greenhouse vegetable production and supplementary crop irrigation.

Pasture management programs in China’s north-west focus on the use of deep rooted perennials such as lucerne, as a WUE method and as a source of animal feed. There is also considerable use of trees to replace cropping and grazing on some land types for degradation control, and programs such as ‘Grain for Green’ are very obvious. However, there is very limited consideration of total watershed water input and output balances which would lead to better allocation of water into its highest value uses.

The team found that ACIAR’s program is highly regarded by those stakeholders who are directly involved, but the program is virtually unknown outside this small circle of people. In addition, the R&D findings are being used by few extension officers. ACIAR’s project results are rarely incorporated into government programs for the relevant county because appropriate stakeholder linkages have not been well developed. The team determined that there are many opportunities for future ACIAR-funded research projects to assist the Government of Gansu to improve on-farm WUE. Some of these should be based on existing and known technologies which are ‘sitting on the shelf’ and simply need efficient and effective extension systems for dissemination to irrigation and dryland farmers.

The main project recommendation was for ACIAR to operate a technically directed program in a geographic location (preferably a small catchment) in Gansu Province which was not currently being substantially impacted on by large-scale national, provincial or bilateral aid or development support. This recommendation should result in larger and more multi-disciplinary R,D&E programs for ACIAR to fund, in conjunction with their counterpart stakeholders in Gansu. A bidding process should be used to plan new R,D&E programs which focus on specific catchments in Gansu Province and comply with design criteria that have evolved as a result of the mission’s findings."

Project Dates

01 Nov 2007 - 29 Feb 2008

Partners

Agricultural and Agribusiness Consultant - Australia
URS Sustainable Development - Australia
Chinese Academy of Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Mr Phillip Young

Email

pmyoung@ozemail.com.au

Phone

08 83579567

Launch Website

Mineral response in Tibetan livestock

Overview of Project

 

A survey undertaken in 2005 determined the mineral nutrition status of pregnant sheep, lactating cattle and yaks in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. The survey team found that livestock were at risk from a number of mineral deficiencies, especially sodium, phosphorus, copper and selenium, with selenium status being particularly low. These mineral deficiencies could be contributing to the poor to moderate condition of the livestock in TAR, with marginal deficiencies resulting in reductions in growth rate, wool production, fertility and milk production, while severe deficiencies resulted in rapid weight loss and increased mortality. The economic and social costs of these disorders are difficult to assess, particularly since marginal disorders are not readily identified in the field and in addition, there is a dearth of information on the response to supplementation.

 

Objective 1: To refine information on the mineral nutrition status of livestock in the 4 major livestock production regions of TAR.

Objective 2: To determine the response to selenium, copper and iodine supplementation in sheep and to selenium and copper in yaks.

Objective 3: To build the research capacity and extension capability of TAAAS personnel."

 

Project Dates

01 Jan 2007 - 31 Dec 2010

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Murdoch University - Australia

Leaders

Professor Nick Costa

Email

N.Costa@murdoch.edu.au

Phone

08 9360 2485

Launch Website

Australia-China linkage for improved rice cold tolerance

Overview of Project

This small research activity supported important collaboration between Australian and Chinese rice breeders in the development of cold tolerance in rice varieties for both countries. This is a high priority issue for Australia but of even greater importance in China. This project aimed to enhance linkages between Australian and Chinese rice research programs with a specific focus on improving rice cold tolerance. The project also enabled Australia to transfer new molecular marker technologies to China, and these will have an impact on China’s cold-tolerant activities as well as other plant breeding efforts. Planting cold-tolerant varieties will prevent substantial yield losses in cold years in both countries; planting these varieties also means that farmers can significantly reduce water usage.

Key Outcomes of Project

One major goal of this project was achieved through an International Rice Cold Tolerance Workshop convened at Yanco Agricultural Institute in December 2006. The workshop reviewed rice production and research related to cold tolerance in Yunnan province in south-western China, Guangxi province in southern China, and Beijing, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces in the northern and north-eastern regions of China.

A prime focus of the workshop was Yunnan, which was highlighted as part of the centre of diversity of the ‘japonica’ sub-species of rice. Yunnan’s unique geography has resulted in development of cold-tolerant landraces across the significant altitude range under which rice evolution and domestication has taken place within the province. Recent genetic conservation efforts and diversity studies have significant potential to identify new sources of cold tolerance (in addition to the existing genes for cold tolerance that have become relatively widespread in temperate rice breeding programs).

Further, Yunnan offers high altitude sites with naturally occurring low temperatures for broad-scale phenotyping for cold tolerance, allowing benchmarking studies of existing cultivars and selection within segregating populations. This linkage project has enabled such collaborative evaluations to take place. Further opportunities for exchange of germplasm and sharing of information on selection techniques were apparent from Liaoning and Heilongjiang. Here selection for cold tolerance is carried out in managed environments, specifically using low-temperature groundwater to irrigate the rice during critical sensitive stages, similar to the methodology used for rice improvement programs in South Korea and Japan.

The workshop also explored the ascendancy of aerobic rices (grown without standing water), under development in northern China in response to increasing competition for water resources and the consequent need to grow rice using less water. In temperate environments cold tolerance is a critical adaptive trait for any production system in which there is no standing water of any depth on the field. This is because the thermal mass of the water buffers the temperature of the base of the rice plant, preventing temperature excursions to the ambient maximum and minimum. This diurnal range is often more than 10C in temperate environments and minimum ambient temperatures regularly fall below the threshold for damage. Hence the need for cold tolerance as one of the suite of adaptive traits required for successful aerobic rice production.

The second part of the project allowed a small group of Australian rice researchers to visit a range of locations in China to maintain and extend established scientific links. The group explored research activities at a provincial and national level. Specific outcomes from the visit included: 1) the exchange of germplasm between breeding programs; 2) the development of two research-concept notes - one to focus on elucidating further genes and/or mechanisms for cold tolerance from within the germplasm resources in Yunnan, the other to set up a collaboration to test a segregating population under naturally occurring cold conditions.

A further concept note centred on the development of varieties adapted to aerobic conditions, building on the strengths of each of the research groups. The Chinese research component has continued to study root traits, while the Australian component is focusing on above-ground traits.

A final legacy of this linkage project is the ongoing involvement in the Temperate Rice Research Consortium, an affiliation between research programs in temperate rice-producing countries."

Project Dates

01 May 2006 - 30 Jun 2009

Partners

Liaoning Academy of Agricultural Science - China
Diversity Arrays Pty Ltd - Australia
CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia
Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Science - China

Leaders

Dr Russell Reinke

Email

russell.reinke@industry.nsw.gov.au

Phone

02 6951 2516

Launch Website

Update on developments in the Chinese cattle and beef industry of relevance to the Australian industry (2006-2007)

Overview of Project

This project builds upon the previous MLA and ACIAR funded projects on the Chinese cattle and beef industry conducted by the CAEG between 1997 and 2000. Since that time, the industry - as well as the agribusiness and policy environment in which it operates - has undergone considerable change. This, this project aims to:

  • Update statistics on the Chinese cattle and beef industry, and provide a critical analysis of statistics in areas including production, consumption, price trends and trade.
  • Identify and critically analyse institutional and policy changes that impact on the Chinese cattle and beef industry, and Australian interests
  • Investigate change in the agribusiness and market environment of the Chinese cattle and beef industry including the breeding, cattle production, slaughter, marketing and trade sectors.
  • Communicate concisely change and drivers for further change in the Chinese cattle and beef industry and the opportunities and challenges that this poses for the Australian industry.
Key Outcomes of Project

"Waldron, S.A., Brown, C.G. and Zhang, C.G. (2007)  Update on Developments in the Chinese Cattle and Beef Industry of Relevance to the Australian Industry. Report prepared for Meat and Livestock Australia."

Project Dates

01 Jan 2006 - 01 Apr 2007

Partners

Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Launch Website

Promotion of conservation agriculture using permanent raised beds in irrigated cropping in the Hexi Corridor, Gansu, China

Overview of Project

Gansu is a north-western Chinese province in the Yellow River Upper Drainage Basin. Between Gansu and neighbouring Inner Mongolia lies a distinct valley, the Hexi Corridor. In the past, reliable snowmelt water from the adjacent Qianlian Mountains has sustained the irrigated agricultural areas along the length of the valley. In more recent times, reduced snowmelt water has led to significant reductions in available surface water, whilst over-extraction and decreased recharge has lowered water tables in groundwater driven systems. As a consequence farmers are facing severe water restrictions (up to 50% reduction in allocations). Better channel lining has reduced delivery losses, but farmers have received few practical solutions to cope with the policy-driven cutbacks in water allocations, water price increases and pumping costs. Other food production issues associated with water restrictions - for example small farms, low levels of mechanisation, high inputs, conventional tillage, low incomes and the loss of young men to the cities - are placing further pressure on farmer livelihoods. Therefore this project examined and tested conservation agriculture, using practises such as zero tillage and permanent raised beds (PRBs) to reduce irrigation water use, maintain farm yields and improve farmer incomes.

Key Outcomes of Project

This 4-year project was based on the premise that conservation agriculture (CA) using permanent raised bed (PRB) technology could save water without yield penalties. The project team worked with farmers to successfully test a bed former, a 20 hp tractor-mounted wheat harvester and an integrated mechanical and chemical weed control implement, and later identified factories for commercialisation. The team also developed a tactile implement guidance system to facilitate precision planting. Prototypic lightweight zero till (ZT) planters based largely on local capacity were built and assessed. However, testing showed that soil disturbance was too high, slot closure inadequate and residue handling poor. A final version built in eastern China showed great promise, but still required minor modifications to cope with heavy residue, poor soil flow and adjustability to suit various soil and planting conditions. Under research conditions water savings were up to 43%, with minimal soil salinity accumulation. Average PRB wheat yield (6.4 t/ha) increased marginally. In contrast, due to low soil temperatures at planting, average PRB maize yield (11.3 t/ha) was 20% lower than conventional farming.

Average water saving for PRB in three on-farm demonstration sites established in the northern, central and southern Hexi Corridor was1.5 ML/ha (28.13%). Advances in on-farm comparative yield were not significant. However, PRB had significant economic, social and environmental benefits, which can be extended across the Hexi Corridor. On-farm data suggest a 2% annual increase of PRB adoption over 5 years would produce accumulated water savings of 2,520 GL.

A cost-benefit analysis revealed that PRB recorded reductions in water use, diesel use, labour input and machinery costs, totalling $312/ha less than conventional farming and producing a $318/ha higher net profit. However, PRB maize recorded an average loss of $92/ha. The increases in net profit were not considerable, but in relation to input costs and the low cost of living in the region, they could provide a substantial benefit to farmers in the longer term.

Capacity building included extension, monitoring and measurement, CA farming, mechanisation and trainer courses for 160 technicians and 45 researchers. Elements were conducted in Australia, Canada, various Chinese provinces, major cities in Gansu and at the demonstration sites. Project members and 2,000 farmers learnt a new and easier method of farming, which facilitated advances in water saving technology and machinery development many years ahead of current practices. With a greater appreciation of sustainable farming techniques they have extended fresh raised-bed farming to about 33,000 ha. Though not yet agronomically or economically sustainable, it was considered an interim step toward conservation agriculture until suitable PRB zero-till (ZT) machinery and weed control technology for ZT farming become available. These were the only issues limiting the broad adoption of CA in Gansu.

PRB as part of CA technology is on the cusp of rapid advancement in northern China. The Provincial Government in Gansu is promoting PRB as one of three key technologies for water saving; also the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Agricultural Mechanisation have expressed keen interest in promoting PRB in northern China. So the resolution of the performance issues of the lightweight planter is of the highest priority.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2005 - 31 Dec 2009

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
China Agricultural University - China
Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Gansu Agricultural Mechanisation Bureau - China

Leaders

Dr A.D.Jack McHugh

Email

a.mchugh@cgiar.org

Phone

+86 13995419104

Launch Website

Improving the management of water and nitrogen fertiliser for agricultural profitability, water quality and reduced nitrous oxide emissions in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Project Background and Objectives

In China irrigated cropping demands careful management of water resources and other inputs. Wheat and maize are the two main irrigated crops grown in western provinces. Water use efficiency in these areas is often low despite water being a critical resource. The intensive nature of the cropping that is practised demands the use of fertilisers. Nitrogen fertiliser is the main type used but, as with water, its use is often inefficient and wasteful. The combination of water used inefficiently with more fertiliser than is needed creates environmental problems, beginning with nitrogen-rich runoff. Volatilisation of ammonia contributes to nitrogen loss, in turn requiring more fertiliser use. This also results in greenhouse gas emissions.

A Water and Nitrogen Management Model (WNMM) developed in past ACIAR research should help determine changes needed to improve current management practices. By working with the model and its associated decision support system in two AusAID projects in Inner Mongolia and Hebei provinces, better practices will be identified and then disseminated to farmers through the existing project channels.

The project is improving the management of water and N fertiliser to increase farm incomes, improve environmental quality and reduce N2O emissions from agriculture. The systems to be studied are irrigated maize and wheat cropping systems and intensive vegetable farms in the western Yellow River basin of northern China, and intensive irrigated pasture and maize, and rain-fed wheat systems in Australia."

Project Dates

01 Apr 2005 - 30 Jun 2010

Partners

University of Melbourne - Australia
Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Sciences - China
Cardno Acil Pty Ltd. - China Office - Australia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
China Agricultural University - China

Leaders

Dr Deli Chen

Email

delichen@unimelb.edu.au

Phone

03 8344 8148

Launch Website

Sustainable development of grasslands in western China: policies, regulatory and market settings

Overview of Project

Within the project broader ACIAR Project AS2/2001/094 ""Sustainable development of grasslands in western China"", the CAEG is a collaborating institution responsible for the sub-project on policies, regulatory and market settings. More specifically, the sub-project aims to:

  • Identify, describe and categorise policies at Central level
  • Identify, describe and categorise policies at provincial level and below
  • Undertake a normative and institutional analysis of selected key policies and strategies (including the Grassland Law and related by-laws, specialisation and vertical integration).
  • Investigate the relationships between policies and their suitability to particular regions or systems, and make recommendations regarding future policies
Project Dates

01 Jan 2005 - 01 Jul 2005

Partners

Prof Ke Bingsheng and Zhao Yutian
Research Centre for Rural
Economy
Chinese Ministry of Agriculture
Nan Zhibiao
Lanzhou University
Wu Jianping
Gansu Agricultural University
Han Guodong
Inner Mongolia Agricultural University

Launch Website

Sustainable development of grasslands in western China

Overview of Project

China’s western grassland regions provide the basis of the livelihoods of around 40 million people. The per capita income of Gansu, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are amongst the lowest in China, in part due to the poor productivity of the grasslands. A severe climate combined with overgrazing limit production; however, it is land degradation that is the main problem. Almost 90 per cent of the approximately 300 million hectares of grasslands are considered degraded. Dust storms, siltation of the Yellow River and declining biodiversity have all resulted and are accelerating and frequency and severity of such storms.

Rehabilitating these grasslands is a focus of Chinese Government policy and supporting international programs. Grasslands management concentrating on livestock farming systems aims to identify better strategies to overcome degradation and improve smallholder incomes.

The project is working to provide research support and training at a range of levels (including scientists, policy makers and extension staff) to contribute to the development and adoption of a systems approach to pastoral management. Achieving this will raise farmer incomes, while sustaining or enhancing the productivity of the resource base, and will help in identifying the priorities for research and development and Government programs by developing:

* a framework for grassland farming systems that integrates the major components that influence grassland use, and

* a suite of policy/regulatory approaches and on-farm strategies that impact positively on farmer incomes and grassland rehabilitation (using the farming systems framework)."

Project Dates

01 Jan 2005 - 31 Mar 2010

Partners

Charles Sturt University - Australia
Gansu Grassland Ecological Research Institute - China
Gansu Agricultural University - China
Industry & Investment NSW - Australia
Inner Mongolia Agricultural University - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
University of Queensland - Australia
Research Centre for Rural Economy - China
Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development for Agriculture - China

Leaders

Professor David Kemp

Email

dkemp@csu.edu.au

Phone

02 6365 7526

Launch Website

Reducing spoilage and contamination risks of fresh vegetables in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Population growth in China and the expansion of urbanisation have increased pressures on vegetable growers to meet demand. Peri-urban vegetable production has been promoted as a means of increasing the availability and diversity of fresh vegetables in the growing urban centres. Spoilage of vegetables remains a problem, being caused by a range of factors. Peri-urban vegetable production systems are land and pesticide intensive. Competition for land and other inputs is at a premium, resulting in pressures on production, handling and marketing systems. High postharvest losses caused by fungal and bacterial pathogens are common. Inadequate washing, grading and packing facilities contribute to this, as does limited options for disposing of wash-water and waste. Limited fresh water and water and sewage pollution from inadequate infrastructure result in poor quality irrigation inputs, sometimes utilising raw sewage. These also contribute further to pollution as they enter water courses as run-off. Vegetables are also often washed in these same water sources prior to sale.

Advances in the detection and monitoring of risk factors have been developed for vegetables, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technologies. These are applicable to monitoring of both vegetables and wash-water. Such technologies can also be used throughout the supply chain to detect human pathogen transmission risk factors. Much is known about the range of risk factors, how to prevent these spreading and how to improve systems management, inputs and monitoring. Some of this has been developed for Australian systems but is also applicable to China.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2004 - 30 Jun 2009

Partners

Food Science Australia - Australia
Institute of Vegetables and Flowers - China
China Agricultural University - China
China National Green Food Industry Company - China

Leaders

Dr Robert Holmes

Email

robert.holmes@dpi.vic.gov.au

Phone

03 92109222

Launch Website

Increasing milk production from cattle in Tibet

Overview of Project

The project major objective was to improve cattle nutrition and thus increase milk production, leading to better income from mixed crop/livestock farms of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Dairy products, notably milk and butter, are traditionally important foods in the Tibetan diet. Demand for these products, particularly milk, continues to rise, driven by changing consumption patterns and, secondly, population growth. Local supply has fallen well behind demand, with increasing reliance on imports. Milk production has traditionally relied on yaks grazed in pastoral lands outside central Tibet Autonomous Region. Recently yak numbers have begun to decline, with cow’s milk making up much of the production gap. Production in pastoral areas has also declined, with an increased expectation that central Tibet Autonomous Region’s crop-livestock zone will make up for this shortfall.

A specialist dairy sector would help boost production by an estimated minimum of 20 per cent. This can be achieved by improved feeds with greater nutritional value being made available to cattle. Livestock are largely fed crop residues (straw) and crop by-products and grazed on grasses and weeds, along with crop regrowth. This is poor nutrition and limits milk production. Improved feeding systems based around the effective utilisation of crop residues and by-products, better silage management practices, information on yearly feed availability and knowledge of responses to different feeds should achieve the 20 per cent boost in dairy production needed to meet supply and establish a specialist dairy sector."

Key Outcomes of Project

To identify constraints, a benchmark study was undertaken as the major activity of the project. Feed resources were characterised (type and availability) and data were collected to describe milk production and key parameters of reproduction. The most consistent and relevant finding of the benchmark study was the high reliance on cereal straws as the basis of most diets, and this was rarely supplemented sufficiently to provide adequate feed quality in total dietary intake. Associated with the generally poor nutritional status was depressed performance in all production parameters.

Although inadequate nutrition had been implicated as a major problem prior to this project, the research team gained a firm basis on which strategies for improvement (feed budgeting, forage production, diet composition, etc) could be developed. Apart from providing the benchmark data, the project has had significant immediate impact in promoting awareness of the nutritional scenario restricting current production and the principles to be applied in designing remedial strategies. In this regard, an unexpected outcome of great importance was the potential to influence local policy makers and funding agencies in deciding the best way(s) to improve production and alleviate farm family poverty. It appeared that previous and current decisions were often based on little or inappropriate advice on aspects of animal nutrition and production, and therefore unlikely to be biologically or economically effective. The feedback suggests that this project has already had considerable impact in this direction within a short time frame, a significant benefit from the ACIAR investment.

The project built on the local capacity to improve agricultural production by improving the skills of the scientists and field staff and provision of infrastructure. The upgrading of capacity for feed quality evaluation (including staff training and expansion of techniques) is vital for future research, as animal nutrition is without doubt the most important immediate area to be addressed in removing constraints to production. The animal house built at TLRI with ACIAR and local funds is the first and only facility of its kind in Tibet and of a global standard for conducting nutrition experiments. This will be pivotal to the key research required to evaluate feed quality, animal responses to varying feed regimes, examining responses of different genotypes and many other components required in the process of developing efficient and sustainable feeding and production systems. The facility will be available for use in many other projects and thus is a major asset for Tibetan animal research into the future."

Project Dates

01 Jul 2004 - 31 Dec 2007

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences - China
Tibet Livestock Research Institute - China
NSW Department of Primary Industries - Australia

Leaders

Dr John Wilkins

Email

john.wilkins@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Phone

02 6938 1837

Launch Website

Application of innovative irrigated cropping and soil filtration technology for wastewater reuse and treatment in China

Overview of Project

Two thirds of China’s total crop production is from irrigated lands. There is, however, increasing pressure on water supplies from the spread of urbanisation and industrialisation. There is also increasing production of wastewater, resulting in environmental pollution. Most rivers, lakes, bays and groundwater sources are showing increasing signs of severe pollution, including from organic matter, nutrients, heavy metals and other toxic chemicals. As a result water use in agriculture, fisheries and recreation is greatly limited. Reusing effluent in suitable agricultural conditions is a possibility, provided appropriate land treatment and reuse techniques are in place. The project had three main objectives:

  • to develop and field-test innovative FILTER techniques for sustainable irrigation with wastewater at a demonstration site in Shanxi Province;
  • to promote the application of FILTER technology for sustainable irrigation with wastewater in Shanxi and other Chinese provinces;
  • to develop simple integrated approaches for siting, design and operation of FILTER and related technology in China and Australia.
Key Outcomes of Project
  • Objective 1: At Yanggao County near Datong city in Shanxi province, a field site consisting of three plots was installed on a farmer’s field to evaluate the catchment-FILTER technology. The scientists studied summer, winter and groundwater components, using instrumentation to monitor wastewater and pollutant flows through the soil.
  • Objective 2: Promotion of the application of FILTER technology for sustainable irrigation with wastewater irrigation in Shanxi and other Chinese provinces was carried out by the IWHR and SIWR researchers. The IWHR researchers in collaboration with Beijing Water Resources Bureau developed and successfully field-tested an innovative FILTER-polyhouse system to combine the FILTER technology with greenhouse agriculture systems to overcome the low infiltration during winter freezing conditions in north China. The FILTER technology was also promoted at discussions with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and provincial authorities.
  • Objective 3: Simplified integrated approaches for siting, design and operation of the new FILTER and related technology in China and Australia were developed. These approaches are incorporated into the guidelines for using Land-FILTER and Catchment-FILTER systems for using wastewater in China and Australia.
Project Dates

01 Apr 2004 - 30 Jun 2006

Partners

China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research - China Department of Water Resources - China

Leaders

Professor John Blackwell

Email

jblackwell@csu.edu.au

Phone

02 6933 4937

Launch Website

Intensifying production of grain and fodder in Central Tibet farming systems

Overview of Project

This project sought to optimise the use of resources in cropping for the production of both food-grain crops and fodder crops in central Tibet by carefully matching crop types to the agro-climatic environment.

Agriculture in the central area of Tibet Autonomous Region takes place mainly on the floors and lower slopes of river valleys. Soils are fertile and average rainfall, mostly falling between July and October, sufficient to support cropping. Barley, wheat, rapeseed, faba bean, maize, vegetables, potato and fodder crops are all grown. The high altitude of the cropping zone means growing periods are characterised by high sunshine intensity and large divergence between day and night temperatures. These characteristics require specific management practices for cropping.

Current levels of grain production are close to achieving self-sufficiency but need further improvement, as importing of grain to so remote a region is costly. This shortfall also has implications for livestock production, another very important component of agriculture in Tibet Autonomous Region. Animal rearing provides opportunities for additional cash incomes, but dependence on grassland grazing as the main form of fattening hampers growth rates in comparison to feeding with fodder crops. This poor nutrition remains an impediment to increased growth and limits possible cash returns. Intensifying overall cropping in both grain and fodder production will result in improvements through the whole system - bringing cereal self-sufficiency closer and improving animal growth to boost incomes.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project was successful in obtaining information on the natural resource base and current systems for crop and fodder production in Tibet, and in compiling this into a comprehensive review. The researchers concluded that the valleys of central Tibet are highly suitable for the production of high-yielding grain crops, but that the current cropping systems leave significant plant growth resources unutilised. This review now provides a foundation for further agricultural research and development work both locally at Tibet Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and with international collaborators.

Secondly, two different options were explored to boost fodder production in Tibet without unacceptable impacts on grain production - these were the broadcast-sowing of vetch (Vicia sativa) seed into maturing stands of winter wheat, and the inter-row sowing of vetch and lucerne (Medicago sativa) into widely sown crops of winter wheat and barley. The broadcast sowing of vetch allowed the production of around 3 tonnes per hectare of vetch in average rainfall years, with minimal impact on grain yield. The inter-row sowing of vetch allowed similar levels of vetch production, but led to grain yield reductions of 16-37%, while inter-row sown crops of lucerne led to grain yield reductions of at least 70-80%. As such, the broadcasting of vetch into maturing winter cereal crops appeared the best intercropping method.

Sole crops of vetch and lucerne produced dry matter yields of 8 and 14 tonnes per hectare, respectively. Over the course of the project zero-till equipment was brought into Tibet for the first time, and preliminary experiments suggest that double crops of vetch, sown using zero-till seeders in the Lhasa district, may also be a viable strategy for fodder production on many farms - yielding, for little extra work, around 5 tonnes per hectare of vetch hay.

At the conclusion of the project in 2007 the project team was able to recommend a number of best-bet strategies for producing fodder in three different agro-climatic areas within Tibet’s central cropping zone, and these methods are now ready for testing on farms.

Finally, excellent progress was made throughout the project in the area of capacity building, leading to the establishment at TARI of a strong research facility with the capacity to conduct agronomic research to drive agricultural development in Tibet well into the future.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2004 - 31 Dec 2007

Partners

Tibet Agricultural Research Institute - China
University of Adelaide - Australia

Leaders

Professor David Coventry

Email

david.coventry@adelaide.edu.au

Phone

08 8303 7954

Launch Website

Oilseed Brassica improvement in China, India and Australia

Overview of Project

Oilseed brassicas are an extremely important crop in China and India. More than 6 million hectares are planted to B. napus (rapeseed) in China and B. juncea (Indian mustard) in India. Achieving canola quality oils (low in erucic acid and glucosinolates) is an aim for both countries. Germplasm with improved traits for both B napus and B juncea will be tested to improve canola quality oilseed production in China, India and Australia.

Brassica production in all three countries is limited by a number of key diseases and environmental stresses. Sclerotinia and white rust resistant traits are needed to reduce the losses these diseases cause. Agronomic traits such as drought tolerance and quality will also boost yields and oil quality. Molecular genetic and quality analysis can be used to determine key traits including quality, disease resistance and drought tolerance. The aims of the project are:

  • identifying and developing effective screening/evaluation protocols for each key trait,
  • identifying appropriate variability for key traits through use of screening protocols,
  • enhancing germplasm in all countries for key traits through selection and breeding, identifying heritability of key traits, genetic distance and heterotic pools (agronomic analysis, molecular analysis) by undertaking genetic variability/distance studies on germplasm from all countries, and;
  • developing and providing appropriate information on improved germplasm and disease epidemiology for incorporation into existing technology transfer protocols.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2004 - 31 Dec 2010

Partners

Department of Primary Industries - Victoria - Australia
South Australian Research and Development Institute - Australia
National Research Centre on Rapeseed-Mustard - India
Industry & Investment NSW - Australia
Oil Crops Research Institute - China
University of Western Australia - Australia
Punjab Agricultural University - India
Tata Energy Research Institute - India
Indian Council of Agricultural Research - India
Huazhong Agricultural University - China
Haryana Agricultural University - India
Department of Agriculture - Western Australia - Australia
Institute of Industrial Crops - China
University of Melbourne - Australia

Leaders

Dr Phil Salisbury

Email

psalisburt@optushome.com.au

Phone

03 8344 7315

Launch Website

Mineral nutrition of livestock in Tibet (I & II)

Overview of Project

Livestock production is the predominant industry in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), with significant numbers of yaks, cattle, horses, sheep and goats raised under various production systems. Little was known about the mineral and trace element status of these animals, although it was suspected that they were at risk from iodine and selenium deficiency. The investigation was intended provide a comprehensive assessment of the mineral and trace element status of livestock and identify any of these nutrients that may limit livestock productivity in TAR. The study involved scientists from the Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences (TAAAS), the Institute of Animal Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and Australia.

Key Outcomes of Project

"In general, livestock were in moderate to poor condition and pastures were of poor quality (indicated by low protein content). The team identified that the low levels of some major and trace minerals may limit livestock productivity. In view of the range of mineral deficiencies that may be limiting livestock productivity the team recommended that it would be of value to the livestock industry for Tibetan scientists to undertake a training program in the detection and correction of mineral disorders. Experiments were needed to determine the magnitude of the response to mineral supplementation, measured by increases in milk or wool production or body weight gain, and to determine the most cost-effective method of providing these mineral supplements. "

Project Dates

11 Aug 2003 - 30 Jun 2005

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences
China

Leaders

Dr Geoff Judson

Email

judson@adam.com.au

Phone

08 8271 6542

Launch Website

Host resistance, epidemiology and integrated management of faba bean, chickpea and lentil diseases

Overview of Project

Historically China has placed major emphasis on improving cereal production, and development of food legumes has been largely ignored. There is a need to invest in food legume research, and this project was designed to increase the adoption and lift the productivity of faba beans and field peas in rain-fed areas of central western and northern China, also the grains regions of Australia, by facilitating the development of varieties with superior qualities in terms of disease resistance and yield.

The priorities for this project - germplasm collection, disease surveys, germplasm evaluation, accelerated breeding of peas and faba beans and molecular analyses of diversity - were initially developed by delegates from collaborating institutions in a planning workshop held in Lanzhou, Gansu province during June 2001. In subsequent discussions it was proposed to involve the provinces of Yunnan, Qinghai and the northern region of Hebei.

The major purpose of the project was to strengthen the capacity of breeding programs to develop new varieties with improved productivity, desired grain quality, disease resistance and greater tolerance of frost stresses, and which will be more widely adopted by farmers.

Overview Objectives

  1. to collect and exchange pea and faba bean germplasm between Chinese and Australian collaborators
  2. to improve pea and faba bean breeding programs in China
  3. to undertake molecular characterisation of diversity in pea core collections from China and Australia, and diversity analyses of breeding programs in China
  4. to train Chinese staff through opportunities in both Australia and China
  5. to produce a handbook for pea diseases in China to assist extension.
Key Outcomes of Project

Major findings for faba bean were: Bean Yellow Mosaic Virus (BYMV) is the major virus in faba bean (60% occurrence in Yunnan, 21% in Qinghai). Other important faba bean diseases were rust and chocolate spot in Yunnan, cercospora and Fusarium root rot in Qinghai and Rhizoctonia in Bashang. Major findings for pea were: 60% of pea crops in Qinghai had Bean Western Yellows Virus (BWYV), and in Bashang 60% of pea crops had Pea Seedborne Mosaic Virus (PSbMV). On pea, Fusarium root rot was important in Yunnan and Qinghai and powdery mildew in Bashang.

Priorities for breeding disease resistance were identified for peas as powdery mildew in all provinces and rust resistance in Yunnan. Disease breeding priorities were only identified for faba bean in Yunnan - for rust, chocolate spot and BYMV. Diseases occurred too late in Qinghai and Zhangbei on both crops to warrant inclusion in plant breeding programs.

The genetic characterisation of 2120 lines of pea germplasm was undertaken at ICGR in 2005-06. Landraces from China had more diverse clusters than from the rest of the world, with one cluster of spring types from north central China, and another of both winter and spring types from western, eastern and southern provinces. For faba bean, AFLP diversity analyses were made on 473 landraces from the CAAS collection of Chinese germplasm and accessions from the rest of the world. Faba bean landraces from China tended to cluster separately from the rest of the world though with a partial overlap.

Each country can benefit from widening of its breeding gene pools to exploit the exchanged genetic resources. Peas from China appear to have previously unrecognised molecular and morphological diversity which is unique to China. Germplasm has been exchanged between CAAS and ATFCC, and this provides excellent plant breeding opportunities to both China and Australia to exploit the other’s genetic resources from the respective alternate gene pools.

For both peas and faba bean this brings opportunities to utilise new genes and alleles for responding to abiotic/biotic stresses, as well as providing new quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for growth traits associated with expression of grain yield. The findings also raise interesting questions on the evolution of peas in China, for future investigation.

Training and extension were important aspects of the project. One thousand handbooks with photos, descriptions and control measures for 115 biotic/abiotic stresses of pea and faba bean were produced (in Chinese only) in 2006-07."

Project Dates

01 Jul 2003 - 30 Jun 2007

Partners

Department of Primary Industries - Victoria - Australia
NSW Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Qinghai Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Science - China
University of Melbourne - Australia
University of Adelaide - Australia
Hebei Institute of Cool Season Crops - China
Institute for Crop Germplasm Resources - China
Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Robert Redden

Email

bob.redden@dpi.vic.gov.au

Launch Website

Improving the implementation of integrated crop management in Brassica vegetables through a decision support toolkit based on end-user needs in China and Australia

Overview of Project

This project wasd commissioned by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Australia.

The project was aimed at identifying key constraints ICM implementation amongst decision-makers, and clarify where information can address these constraints (in both China and Australia). With the end goal being formulating Research and extension activities which build on the principles of good integrated pest management (IPM) . To further the brassica industry (in Australia and China) use of biological and cultural pest management integrated with chemical control. The reduction in synthetic pesticide use has meant that alternative pest management practices are feasible, as natural enemies of the brassica pests are able to survive in the crop environment. At the time of the project Brassica vegetables accounted for 50 per cent of total vegetable production and consumption in China.

This project sought to convince farmers of the merits of adopting the more sustainable practices of ICM, and using them well."

Key Outcomes of Project

The key outputs of the project were toolkit prototypes in Mandarin and English, designed to meet the respective information needs of the Chinese and Australian brassica industry members in addressing integrated crop management constraints. In China, the toolkit consists of CD based decision-support tools and training multimedia system plus a paper-based field guide to integrated management of vegetable brassicas. One thousand copies of the field guide were distributed to farmers from the 10 major vegetable production areas in Zhejiang. In each locality, 60-70 farmers attended a half day training activity. A further 200 copies were sent to extension officers in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, Fujian, Yunnan, Guangdong, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan and Chongqing, and to the National Extension and Service Centre in Beijing. In Australia, the English toolkit prototype is presented on a CD which contains tools to correctly diagnose and evaluate problems in brassica vegetable crops. Practical implications of the project were highlighted from the needs analyses

Project Dates

01 Jul 2003 - 31 Dec 2005

Partners

University of Queensland - Centre for Biological Information Technology - Australia
Zhejiang University - Department of Plant Protection - China
Zhejiang Department of Agriculture - Zhejiang General Plant Protection Station - China

Leaders

Ms Bronwyn Walsh

Email

Bronwyn.Walsh@dpi.qld.gov.au

Phone

(07) 5466 2222

Launch Website

Analysis of agribusiness and policy developments in China’s sheep meat industry of relevance to the Australian industry

Overview of Project
  • Build knowledge on China’s sheep meat industry, including statistical issues, agribusiness developments and policy developments.
  • Draw conclusions on the nature and drivers of change of change in China’s sheep meat industry.
  • Clarify the challenges and opportunities posed for Australian industry concerns
Key Outcomes of Project

Waldron, S.A., Brown, C.G. and Zhang, C. (2004) Analysis of Agribusiness and Policy Developments in China's Sheep meat Industry of Relevance to the Australian Industry. MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia), Brisbane, July.

Waldron, S.A., Brown, C.G., Longworth, J.L. and Zhang, C.G. (2007), China’s Livestock Revolution: agribusiness and policy developments in China’s sheep meat sector, CAB International, Wallingford.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2003 - 01 Jan 2004

Partners

Professor Zhang Cungen
Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Launch Website

Regional impacts of re-vegetation on water resources of the Loess Plateau, China, and the Middle and Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment, Australia

Overview of Project

Western China’s Loess Plateau is a unique combination of soil type, slope and rainfall intensity. Much of the land is too steep for farming. Average farm sizes are small, often as little as 1.5 hectares. The most far-reaching problem for these farmers is soil erosion. Traditional tillage practices have served to further, rather than limit, erosion. Low levels of perennial vegetation and intense monsoonal summer rains, which dump more than half of the annual fall, also exacerbate the problems. Hydrology and erosion interactions are also elements found in the Murrumbidgee catchment in Australia. The project is working to optimise the impact of large-scale revegetation on the water resources of the Coarse Sandy Hilly Region of the Loess Plateau of western China, and in the Middle and Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment of southeast Australia by developing software tools to predict the impact of revegetation strategies on the two regions.

Key Outcomes of Project

The key output from our successful project has been the development of a bilingual computer based simulation tool called ReVegIH (Re-Vegetation Impacts on Hydrology) that allows managers of terrestrial land use (forestry and agricultural) to understand the regional impacts of current and proposed plans to re-vegetate large areas of the Loess Plateau. While re-vegetation activities will assist controlling soil erosion, in the water limited Yellow River basin, off-sites impacts of reducing water yields need to be acknowledged and planned for. Additionally, to promote use of the tool by the land use managers, ReVegIH provides suitability assessments of 38 perennial tree and shrub species, and identifies priority and target areas where re-vegetation activities should occur.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2003 - 31 Dec 2005

Partners

Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources - Institute of Soil and Water Conservation - China

Leaders

Dr Tim McVicar

Email

tim.mcvicar@csiro.au

Phone

02 6246 5741

Launch Website

Use and improvement of sugarcane germplasm

Overview of Project

This project aimed to provide more productive sugarcane varieties to growers and sugar industries in China and Australia by assessing genetic diversity in sugarcane germplasm collections and using wild germplasm to develop improved sugarcane clones.

Sugarcane is currently the second most important crop in southern China and its relative importance is expected to rise in the future. Sugarcane industries continue to rely heavily on development of new and more productive varieties to maintain industry viability in increasingly competitive world markets. They have invested heavily in breeding programs in the past to maintain a steady flow of more productive varieties. However, only a limited number of original progenitor clones feature in development of modern sugarcane cultivars.

Therefore, sugarcane breeders worldwide have considered it important to expand the genetic base in sugarcane. Germplasm related to sugarcane grows wild in China. During the 1980s and 1990s the Chinese government devoted significant effort to collecting this germplasm, and the Yunnan Sugar Research Institute (YSRI) now maintains much of it at the National Nursery for Sugarcane Germplasm Resources. Both Chinese and Australian sugarcane breeders have an interest in using this germplasm for sugarcane improvement.

This small sample of genetic diversity in breeding programs, combined with the knowledge that there are many desirable traits in exotic sugarcane-related germplasm, has led to strong interest in introgression of new sources of germplasm in breeding programs in Australia and China."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project was largely successful in achieving its objectives. Studies indicated a high level of genetic diversity in both Saccharum spontaneum and Erianthus arundinaceus in China, providing a basis for targeted sampling and use of this material in future breeding efforts.

Scientists obtained viable seeds from 202 crosses involving a range of S. spontaneum and E. arundinaceus clones. Using DNA markers they have to date verified 100 of these crosses as producing true hybrids. This result was significant for Erianthus sp. - this is the first report of verified fertile hybrids between Saccharum x Erianthus despite many past attempts.
Several case study populations derived from S. spontaneum and Erianthus were used to establish Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) - a form of genetic mapping - and several important loci for cane yield were identified from S. spontaneum, providing a basis for application of DNA markers in future introgression breeding of new traits into sugarcane.
 
The scientists observed good genetic correlations in performance of families and clones between trials in China and Australia, suggesting mutual benefits from ongoing collaboration between the two countries via exchange of selection trial results and selected germplasm.
 
The project team recommended ways to develop commercial outcomes from the outputs of the project to date. The genetic material generated has been incorporated into sugarcane breeding programs in China and Australia. This material is a source of new parental material for these programs and may have particular value in likely future production systems, which obtain value from both sugar and fibre (for energy) components."
Project Dates

01 Jul 2002 - 31 Dec 2007

Partners

Yunnan Sugar Research Institute - China
Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations Limited - Australia
Guangzhou Sugarcane Industry Research Institute - China
CSR - Australia
CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia

Leaders

Dr Phillip Jackson

Email

Phillip.Jackson@csiro.au

Phone

07 4753 8592

Launch Website

Ruminant production in the red soils region of southern China and in northern Australia

Overview of Project

The project was commissioned by CSIRO Livestock Industries, Australia and was aimed at developing economically viable pasture-based beef production systems in the degraded red and yellow soils regions of southern China, in order to meet the rapidly expanding domestic beef market in China and to reduce erosion. The project focused on strategies for using forages, crop residues and by-products. Computer software packages to predict animal performance in China and tropical Australia were developed through the project.

Key Outcomes of Project

The red soils region of central southern China covers an area the size of Western Australia (2.6 million km2) to the south of the Yangtze River. The region is characterised by high and soil erosive rainfall in spring, high evaporation rates in summer and cold winters. Almost half of this area has become seriously eroded as a result of excessive deforestation. There is increasing pressure to develop these soils for agricultural production, due to population pressure and economic growth.Three previous ACIAR projects have delivered technologies the project was designed to demonstrate the extent to which pasture forages help control erosion. The challenge for this project was converting these adapted forages into economic benefits for farmers. this was done by developing a forage-based ruminant production system that integrated with the other activities of smallholder farmers and producing usable materials like information CD-ROMs and negotiating updates to decision making software (CamBeef, GrazFeed) t

In China the team gathered and collated data about reproductive efficiency, growth rates, mortality, herd structure, age and weight at sale from around 240 households in three counties in Jiangxi and 300 in three counties in Hunan. These data became the benchmarks for later assessment of productivity gains.

The team also completed an inventory of available feed resources, identifying suitable local feedstuffs and by-products. Crop residue feed resources included straws from rice, peanut, sweet potato, and soybean, together with corn stalks. Crop by-products (energy/ protein rich meals) available in Jiangxi include rice bran and cottonseed meal while only rice bran was readily available in Hunan.

A list of recommended perennial summer growing grass species was drawn up for commercial use by smallholder farmers. Research showed that these species are advantageous due to their superior dry matter production in this environment, over-wintering capabilities and a growth habit more suitable for harvesting in a cut-and-carry system. Annual grass species were successfully integrated into rice-growing with beef production where fresh forages were used as the feed resource.Fourteen cattle growth experiments were completed during the project. Based on the results from these studies, the team developed and validated technologies for year-round feeding of beef cattle.

The team in Australia studied molasses supplementation, determining the relationship between amount of supplement and frequency of molasses ingestion on intake of forage and the substitution effect. More is now known about rumen function and rumen dynamics with differing amounts of supplement and the consequences for forage intake, also the effect of high molasses intake on drinking water intake and fluid kinetics. Other areas of better understanding include digestion of dietary components, the effect of molasses inclusion rate on forage (fibre) digestion, level of supplementation, interaction with forage quality and liveweight gain. In the study of grazing cattle, researchers determined how level of supplementation affected grazing behaviour, spatial distribution of cattle within paddocks, and liveweight gain. "

Project Dates

01 Jul 2001 - 30 Jun 2004

Partners

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems - Australia
Jiangxi Agricultural University - China
Department of Rural and Social Development - Jiangxi - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Bob Hunter

Launch Website

Growing more rice with less water: Increasing water productivity in rice-based cropping systems

Overview of Project

Rice is a vital food staple in China with a large part of the population dependant on rice production. Most of this rice is produced using irrigation and using valuable water resources. Water useage in China is rising, prompting China to promote water-saving irrigation (WSI) techniques. This project was aimed to address these issues by linking Chinese and Australian laboratories to promote water management techniques in rice-based irrigation systems that reduce water consumption and do not decrease crop production. In particular this project aimed to further investigate the technique of alternate wetting and drying, and to compare it to the techniques of saturated soil culture and aerobic rice in China.

Key Outcomes of Project

Water saving irrigation using alternative wetting and drying is a viable option for farmers in the Zhanghe Irrigation System (ZIS). Studies confirmed that alternate wetting and drying can be practiced without yield losses, while saving significant irrigation water. Farm surveys revealed that at the farm level the maintenance of yields does not affect profitability. The key finding was that farmers will practice water saving only by default. At the catchment level the artificial creation of water scarcity will prompt farmers to adopt water saving irrigation without reducing yields or profits, providing farmers know how to implement such techniques.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2001 - 30 Jun 2005

Partners

CSIRO Land and Water - Australia
Wuhan University of Hydraulic and Electric Engineering - China
International Water Management Institute - Sri Lanka
International Rice Research Institute - Philippines

Leaders

Randolph Barker

Email

brandy84332@yahoo.com

Launch Website

Lucerne (Alfalfa) adapted to adverse environments in China and Australia

Overview of Project

The project was a joint collaboration wiht Australia, China and Laos primarily aimed to produce lucerne varieties that are adapteable to environmental stresses relevant to China and Australia through the development of germplasm and novel screening techniques. Sustainable agricultural production is vital for A China. As the country develops, demand for animal products is increasing. However, the country faces a severe shortage of forage, as well as many environmental problems such as increasing soil salinity, acidity and erosion. The vast grassland areas are not very productive, partly due to inappropriate management but also because of unimproved pasture plants and deforestation. Australia also has related problems of salinity and waterlogging caused by a lack of deep-rooted perennials plants to keep watertables low. Part of the solution to these problems may come from lucerne, which is a nutritious, productive perennial forage legume, with the potential to improve animal production and soil stability, and lower watertables

Key Outcomes of Project

The project aimed toto produce lucerne varieties that are adapted to environmental stresses relevant to China and Australia through the Acquisition and field testing of Germplasm and the Developing of novel screening techniques along with the training of Chinese researchers and publishing lucerne improvement findings and extension courses.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2001 - 31 Dec 2004

Partners

Department of Agriculture - Western Australia - Australia
University of Tasmania - Australia
Gansu Agricultural University - China
Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Beijing Forestry University - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Gansu Grasslands Ecological Research Institute - China

Leaders

Dr Geoff Auricht

Email

auricht.geoff@saugov.sa.gov.au

Phone

08 8303 9498

Launch Website

Potential Benefits of Establishing a Neem Industry in China

Overview of Project

This project aims to evaluate the important factors affecting the establishment of a neem industry in China and to develop a blueprint for a neem industry that could be adopted by the central and local governments. The potential benefits of neem trees as a source of pesticides, for environmental protection, and to provide income for populations in rural and remote areas will be studied. The establishment of neem plantations and processing of neem products in China will also be analyzed.

Key Outcomes of Project

Xin Tinghui, “ Harness Soil Erosion and Develop biopesticides: a survey report on plantation and development of neem ”. SAFEA, Beijing ( in Chinese ) Malcolm Wegener, “ Economics of Bio-Pesticides production: Report on Potential Neem Production Areas in Hainan, Guangdong and Yunnan, China ( 10 – 31 May 2000 ) The University of Queensland, 44pp.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2000 - 01 Jun 2003

Partners

The University of Queensland

Development of technologies to alleviate soil acidification in legume-based production systems in the tropics of Asia and Australia

Overview of Project

This project sought to develop production systems that minimise soil acidification and its negative effects, through research undertaken in laboratory and field-based trials in China, Thailand and Australia.

Legumes are widely used in farming systems to improve soil fertility and organic matter accretion through their nitrogen fixation, and to provide protein for human and animal consumption. Some legumes are crops (for example, soybean and peanut) while others are pasture plants (such as Stylosanthes) or trees (such as Leucaena). Stylosanthes, or stylo, has proved to be an ideal, cheap method of improving the quality of native pastures in Asia, Africa, South America and northern Australia. It adapts well to low-fertility soils and tolerates a range of climate types. The importance of introduced legumes such as these for increasing the productivity of tropical agricultural systems has long been recognised. However, it is now clear that legumes make the soil more acid.

Recent research has shown that acidification has occurred in pastures in Australia’s semi-arid tropics following the introduction of Stylosanthes. This is also occurring in northeast Thailand, southern China and southern India, at similar rates to those measured in northern Australia. Acidification of soils makes nutrients less available to plant roots, by altering the balance of ions.

The soils that have shown the greatest degree of acidification are light-textured, and are characterised by their poor fertility, and inherently small ability to buffer pH changes. Such soils are becoming increasingly important agriculturally (and hence economically). If soil organic matter increased this would provide greater buffering capacity. Acidity can also be remedied by applying a base, but given the large areas and depth to which the acidity occurs, this would be impractical."

Key Outcomes of Project

Soil acidification can reduce productivity by restricting root growth through toxicities of aluminium and manganese or calcium deficiency. Soil fertility decline is a consequence of soil organic carbon decline, and nutrient removal in harvested product not being matched by nutrient inputs. Net acid addition rates were measured for several key production systems in Australia and SE Asia, using a paired site (degraded versus undegraded) approach. Lime equivalents of removed product ranged from 50 kg/ha/year for paddy rice in Thailand to 2850 kg/ha/year for leucaena in China. This indicates the wide range in potential soil acidification arising from different agricultural production systems.

Several strategies to minimise or ameliorate soil acidification were studied in this project. It was shown that the use of nitrate-based rather than ammonium-based nitrogen fertilisers could ameliorate soil acidification to a depth of a least 120 cm in sandy soils in northern Australia and north-east Thailand. This finding is particularly significant because neutralisation to depth is rarely possible with conventional approaches using lime.

In legume plus grass pasture production systems in China, the use of fire in combination with over-sowing of grass and input of nitrogen was shown to successfully reduce stylo dominance compared to other management systems. Reduction of legume dominance should reduce the rate of soil acidification. A spin-off from studying the legume production system has been the incorporation of legume intercropping into plantation systems, giving the benefits of nitrogen input and erosion control. This system is being regularly monitored to ensure that soil acidification does not become an issue.

The soils of the project focus areas, in Hainan China, NE Thailand and northern Australia, were predominantly sandy. Sustainable production on such soils is dependent on increasing their cation exchange capacity. The researchers found that applications of materials such as bentonite clay can help restore fertility to degraded, sandy soils. Field experiments in NE Thailand and northern Australia demonstrated yield responses of forage sorghum, gamba grass and sugarcane to applications of calcium-rich natural bentonites. This was due to the improved nutrient-holding capacity and/or water-holding capacity of the amended soils. An adaptation of the technology is to use clay minerals in the composting process to reduce loss of nitrogen by ammonium volatilisation. Clay technology is seen as a way to ‘kick-start’ the remediation process for a degraded system, enabling intensive agriculture on sandy soils.

Assessing the risk of soil acidification is a prerequisite for identifying soil/land use prone to this degradation process. The development of pedo-transfer functions for estimating soil pH buffer capacity from simple routine soil analyses enabled ranking of soil types according to their susceptibility to rapid acidification. This information has been linked with spatial soil survey data to produce soil acidification risk maps for NE Thailand. These maps have provided input into regional land use and environmental planning at provincial level through collaboration with the Land Development Department and provincial staff.

A similar approach is to be applied in Hainan, allowing the identification of priority ‘hot spots’ for concentrating research and extension efforts. Because the complexity of the local farming systems makes predication of soil acidification based on crop parameters (carbon/nitrogen cycles) very difficult, risk assessment will be enhanced through the use of a simple field tool kit for measuring soil pH and pH buffer capacity. This kit will also be used to demonstrate concepts of soil acidity to farmers."

Project Dates

01 Jul 2000 - 30 Jun 2005

Partners

Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines - Australia
Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Science - China
Khon Kaen University - Thailand

Leaders

Ms Suzanne Berthelsen

Email

suzanne.berthelsen@jcu.edu.au

Phone

0407 252 815

Launch Website

Use of entomopathogenic nematodes in China to control chive midges

Overview of Project

Pests such as rice stem borers (Scirpophaga spp. and Chilo spp.) and chive midges (Bradysia spp.) threaten important crops in China. This project aims to use nematodes to control rice stem borers and chive midges as a commercial alternative to chemical insecticides.

Key Outcomes of Project

The research will build on work where nematodes were successfully used to control apple moths and street tree borers in northern China. The scientists will select strains of the nematode, Steinernema feltiae and search for other species that are capable of attacking these pests. They will then conduct field trials on rice and chives in China and Australia.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2000 - 30 Jun 2001

Partners

CSIRO Entomology - AustraliaChinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - Biological Control Institute - China
Zhongshan University - State Key Lab for Biocontrol and Institute of Entomolgy - China

Leaders

Dr Robin Bedding

Email

robinb@ento.csiro.au

Phone

02 6 246 4292

Launch Website

Chinese grain market policy with special emphasis on the domestic grain trade

Overview of Project

Project Background and Objectives

The project focused on understanding the political economy of the Chinese domestic grain marketing system (mainly rice, wheat and maize). The system was characterised by a lack of competition, costly inefficiencies, and cycles of reform. It was a complicated marketing system with extensive government control over pricing, transportation and storage.

Despite various recent reforms, the State continued to play a large part in managing the domestic marketing system. It set floor prices, bought and resold grain, stored and distributed it through its own agencies, and excluded private traders from dealing directly with farmers.

Various analyses suggested that these arrangements were unsustainable, particularly as there was a considerable financial burden on the State. Often the government policy objectives conflicted and therefore had unintended consequences. As China had started to rely more on market forces in grain distribution, the policies tended to exacerbate the fluctuation in prices and that, in turn, exaggerated concerns by farmers about prices and by others about the security of supply.

Responsibility for implementing policies designed in Beijing rested with provincial governments, a practice that seemed to raise significant barriers to trade in grain within China. This project addressed some of these problems, measuring the extent of inter-regional grain transfers and examining how effectively policies met the goals of income growth and security for farmers while maintaining the security of supply for consumers (mainly urban-dwellers).

Key Outcomes of Project

The project estimated yields of food and grain crops by regions and identified major grain surplus and deficit provinces. It also estimated the detailed volume and direction of domestic trade in major grains for six provinces. Researchers found that regional grain flows were expanding, leading to significant changes in domestic inter-regional grain trade patterns.

The team collected regional wholesale and retail price data, regional quota negotiated and market price data for the major grains and food products. Researchers measured the degree of market integration to estimate the impact of domestic trade barriers. Their estimates of various indices applicable to China helped rate competitiveness of main grains in major agricultural regions.

They described the political economy reasons for the development of China’s grain marketing system since the 1978 reforms. After determining the preconditions needed to successfully implement the 1998 grain policy objectives they concluded that the policy package was bound to fail. They identified signals and key components that would push the market-oriented grain marketing reform started in 2000 and reached the conclusion that policy retrenchment was less likely when the next supply-constrained cycle arose.

The researchers found that government control over the domestic grain market and control over international trade had destabilised prices in the market and resulted in excessive surpluses. Reforms were erratic, and the considerable uncertainty this generated for consumers and farmers was reflected in their responses to grain marketing policy changes.

In 1999-2000 the team surveyed 1000 households in five provinces and 20 counties, and data now exist for the period 1993-5 to 1999-2000 (5 years in total) for four of the five provinces. This provided a micro basis to support an aggregate analysis of grain flows among regions.

The outputs from the project should help Australians better understand the long- and short-run implications of China’s accession to WTO as well as China’s inter-regional grain trade volumes and regional comparative advantage in various crops. This will help to identify opportunities for Australian agriculture in terms of future trade relations with China.

Project results have had a positive role in promoting a new round of grain marketing reform in China. At the final review of the project the Chinese project leader commented that results have been used in decision-making of China’s high administration - for example Jianxu Province was advised not to buy soft red wheat at the protected price, and it complied. Henan Province undertook an analysis of grain grades being supported under the grain policy, and implemented the recommendation that grades of less than 3 be excluded from the protected price scheme. The Vice Premier of Henan also accepted the analysts’ advice to increase the price of hard wheat.

Nanjing University used the methodology and analytic framework developed in the project. Policy advice on regional comparative advantage in agriculture provided to the provincial government was well accepted."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Apr 2003

Partners

University of Adelaide - Australia
Ministry of Agriculture - Department of Policy - Reform and Law - China

Leaders

Professor Christopher Findlay

Email

christopher.findlay@adelaide.edu.au

Phone

+61 8 8303 3986

Launch Website

Population models and immunocontraceptive vaccines for managing outbreaking rodent species

Overview of Project

Plagues of mice in Australia and Brandt’s vole in China erupt periodically, causing significant damage. In grassland ecosystems these plagues can exacerbate damage and deterioration caused by grazing livestock. By utilising expertise in ecology, reproductive biology and molecular biology of rodents the project scientists undertook population studies of both rodents and assessed the feasibility of fertility controls for their management in grassland and cereal production systems. They also determined the potential to use an immunocontraceptive vaccine for Brandt’s vole.

The project aimed to predict the occurrence of high densities of Brandt’s vole in Inner Mongolia and the house mouse in southeastern Australia, also to assess the feasibility of fertility control for the management of rodents in grassland and cropland. This involved studies to understand more about the female reproductive biology of both species and to initiate the development of an immunocontraceptive vaccine for Brandt’s vole."

Key Outcomes of Project

Progress in the work on population modelling and predictions was highly satisfactory. For the Chinese the results highlighted the need to pursue integrated management of livestock and rodents. As well, computer simulations predicted that fertility control could be as effective (and in some cases more effective) in managing Brandt’s vole than lethal control with rodenticides.

In Australia the project resulted in important advances in understanding the changes in demographic parameters that lead to the development and eventual collapse of mouse plagues. However there is still much to learn about the ecological processes involved. The availability of substantial sets of earlier demographic data from both China and Australia greatly assisted the execution of this aspect of the project.

Assessment of the feasibility of fertility control of Brandt’s vole was also successful, with one vole reproductive antigen showing capacity to induce infertility in captive female voles. Trials to assess potential antigens were hampered by the seasonal breeding pattern of the vole, but the results indicated that further studies to develop better management strategies and tools for rodent control are warranted both in the field and the laboratory."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 31 Mar 2002

Partners

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems - Australia
Chinese Academy of Science - Institute of Zoology - China

Leaders

Dr Lyn Hinds

Email

l.hinds@cse.csiro.au

Phone

6242 1729

Launch Website

Wheat improvement in Sichuan Province: application of modern breeding technologies

Overview of Project

Wheat is the second most important crop (after rice) in China’s Sichuan Province. About 2.3 million ha are planted each year, which yields about 7.85 million tonnes of grain that is used mainly for making noodles and bread. However, the quantity did not meet the needs of the current population of 89 million people and the Government was anxious to improve grain output. It was important that the province improve the efficiency of its wheat breeding efforts. The quality of the grain was also often inadequate for the products it was needed for. Yellow alkaline noodles, a popular food in Japan, China and elsewhere, look unattractive when made with wheat of the incorrect quality. There was an opportunity to improve relevant attributes through genetic manipulation.

Climatic conditions played a part in limiting the yield (inappropriate rain and periods of cold and low light intensity), but there were other factors. These included disease (principally the fungal disease stripe rust), also the problem of the premature germination of the wheat grains while still on the stalk, which is faced in Australia as well as Sichuan. Known as sprouting, it is promoted by rainfall coming just before the harvest. Certain wheat varieties - white-grained ones - are inherently more susceptible to this problem. Sprouting resistance exists in some varieties but it proved difficult to select for in a breeding program because there were no easy markers for it.

Another problem was the intermittent sterility occurring in some wheat types in Sichuan. This could be related to low light intensity because of a naturally cloudy climate, and to cold periods, but resistance genes for this exist.

Key Outcomes of Project

Analysis of three years of yield trial data for 14 Australian, Chinese and CIMMYT wheat lines grown across 10 sites in Sichuan, together with analysis of 10 years of Sichuan Provincial Trial data has yielded important information concerning the range of wheat-growing environments in the Province and the number of trials and trial sites required to assess varieties. This information will inform long-term breeding strategies and wheat variety deployment across Sichuan.

Investigations into quality characteristics for high-quality fresh white noodles, including both Australian and Sichuan wheats, have provided very useful information concerning relative performance of these lines and which attributes in the Chinese and Australian materials might be suitable for crossing into the relevant adapted germplasm for each country. Taste panel evaluations have indicated that genes controlling grain hardness are linked to noodle texture, while colour preference tests indicate that the market has a preference for a creamy white noodle appearance, whose quantitative parameters using a Minolta colour meter can be used as a selection tool by breeders. Chinese lines with resistance to grain blackpoint have been identified and are being evaluated in Australia, while testing to eliminate lines with high levels of late maturity a-amylase has now been adopted in Sichuan.

Stripe rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis, is currently a major foliar disease of wheat throughout China. The introduction of near-isogenic lines (NILs) and trials conducted in Sichuan by Prof Bob McIntosh during this project indicate that major single genes for resistance are very vulnerable to breakdown in the Sichuan environment. Multiple minor effect genes that give adult plant resistance in the field are much more likely to result in durable resistance and this approach is now being adopted by some Sichuan wheat breeders with the hope that future new varieties will show effective and durable resistance in the Sichuan environment indefinitely. A young Chinese plant pathologist has received training in the assessment of disease severity in the field, conducted in Australia and Sichuan.

Germination of grains in the head following rain at harvest time is a major cause of economic losses in both countries. Markers for major genes conditioning embryo dormancy in Chinese and Australian lines have been identified and published. These markers will assist the selection of lines with resistance to preharvest sprouting. Chromosomal regions conditioning the expression of low polyphenol oxidase activity, a desirable characteristic for noodle colour stability, have been identified and a simple biochemical test is now in use in Chengdu to determine breeding lines carrying this trait.

During the project, trials were conducted to determine the factors which lead to intermittent reproductive sterility in some wheats in Sichuan. Results indicate that lower temperature at flowering was the major factor in the overcast spring conditions of Sichuan, and some locally-derived varieties had much better tolerance to the lower temperatures than materials developed elsewhere. This information is now being widely used for parental selection in breeding programs in Sichuan. Genetic analyses suggest that the very high fertility of the local variety Chuanyu 12 is controlled by two complementary dominant genes. Work to locate molecular markers for gene(s) for intermittent reproductive sterility, using the technologies transferred during the project, are currently under way in Chengdu.

Chinese participants have received training in the application of recently developed breeding technologies, equipping them to produce improved wheat varieties suitable for a range of growing environments and to a plurality of market demands. Chinese colleagues can now state-of-the-art approaches to breeding wheat cultivars with high yielding potential and improved quality in Sichuan growing conditions

Trainees have gained experience in determining flour and noodle sheet colour and measuring dough characteristics on a farinograph. They have also learned techniques for small-scale noodle production, conducting taste panel analysis and measuring embryo dormancy, polyphenol oxidase levels and late maturity a-amylase."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Apr 2006

Partners

University of Southern Queensland - Australia
University of Queensland - Australia
University of Sydney - Australia
Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Science - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries - Australia

Leaders

Associate Professor Mark Sutherland

Email

marksuth@usq.edu.au

Phone

07 4631 2360

Launch Website

Improvement of IPM of Brassica vegetable crops in China and Australia

Overview of Project

The project aimed to develop and implement sustainable management strategies that would effectively control insect pests in brassica vegetables and be acceptable to growers, thus reducing pesticide hazards.

Brassica crops account for about half the total vegetable production and consumption in the Changjiang River Valley in China. In Australia, the brassica industry is centred in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley and Eastern Darling Downs. Growers in both countries face similar problems from insect pests, particularly the diamondback moth (DBM).

In China the control of pest insects has relied heavily on chemical insecticides, which are often overused or misused. Problems encountered include pest resistance, expense, increases in insecticide residues in the harvested vegetables, and hazards to the health of spray operators. The brassica group and its pests presented a good case for the use of integrated pest management (IPM) to reduce the level of insecticide applied to the plants. IPM uses other means - especially beneficial species, such as parasites and predators - along with judicious use of environmentally acceptable pesticides to control pest insects."

Key Outcomes of Project

In both China and Australia the scientists completed investigations of major quantitative factors affecting the numerical changes of pest abundance in brassica crops in the field, and particularly the role that benefical organisms (parsitoid, predators and pathogens) played in suppressing pest populations. In China, 112 species of parasitoids were recorded for four major insect pests - six species recorded as native species for the first time from China. In Australia, two egg parasitoids and one larval pupal parasitoids of DBM were recorded for the first time from this geographic region.

To determine the impact of the main pests on yield and quality loss in major brassica crops and varieties under field conditions the scientists undertook an evaluation of DBM populations in southeast Queensland from 2000 to 2002. They demonstrated that mortality of DBM larvae caused by predators and parasitoids on farms using IPM practices was usually 70-80%, significantly higher than for farms that practised calendar chemical sprays, where the mortality of DBM larvae was usually around 20%.

IPM trials were conducted for four different crops at six sites in east China from 1999 to 2002. Significantly higher numbers of beneficial arthropods and higher rates of parasitism of insect pests were regularly observed in IPM plots than in chemical spray plots. In both Australia and China, the scale of the studies and the consistency of the results across farms, years and different crop production systems provided convincing field evidence that where natural enemies are properly protected and promoted they can dramatically suppress pest populations.

Laboratory bioassays, semi-field tests and field trials were conducted to screen for biological and ‘soft’ insecticides, leading to recommendations of a number of selective insecticides for field use. Strategies to improve insecticide application were tested, focusing on options that promoted ‘soft’ insecticides and reduced total insecticide use.

The IPM trials and field assessments demonstrated that, compared to conventional practice, pest monitoring and use of simple action thresholds helped to reduce the number of sprays and insecticide input substantially and yet achieved similar, or better, control of insect pests at all sites studied.

The scientists established resistance levels to major insecticides used in the brassica production system. They improved their methods for promoting implementation of IPM in brassica vegetable production and applied them widely in the project areas.

There are now a large number of Chinese institutions involved in the implementation of integrated pest management with farmers. The rates of uptake of project outputs by farmers are encouraging. Interest in integrated pest management has grown in the Lockyer Valley in Queensland. Growers interested in IPM have established the Brassica Improvement Group (known as the BIG Boys). A second offshoot has developed of people who are going beyond IPM into full, certified organic culture of broccoli (still using the results of the ACIAR research as the basis of their IPM)."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Jun 2003

Partners

Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Zhejiang Department of Agriculture - China
Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Science - China
Zhejiang University - China
Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Professor Myron Zalucki

Email

M.Zalucki@uq.edu.au

Phone

61 7 33651747

Launch Website

Eucalyptus and groundwater: managing plantations to avoid resource depleation and environmnetla detriment in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Australia - This project looks at the the problems of falling yields, soil erosion and suspected groundwater depletion in eucalypt plantations on Leizhou Peninsula in southern China. The project not only looks at the adverse affects of degredation on Eycalypt growth but also how the plantations appeared to increase soil erosion and deplete the groundwater needed for dry season irrigation of rice and sugar cane

Key Outcomes of Project

Raising awareness with forest managers and researchers, to convince them that appropriate modelling could help allay landholder concerns about adverse effects of plantations on water yields and assist in improving plantation yields. Substantial efforts also went into explaining the project and its potential to improve stand productivity to managers from areas outside the Leizhou study area. Successful parameterization of the process-based 3PG model to predict growth of the eucalypt stands on the Leizhou Peninsula has encouraged acceptance of 3PG and of modelling in general as a tool for forest management - A regional-scale catchment model describing vegetation growth and water use with a resolution of 1 km2 over areas of 1000-10,000 km2 was developed to an advanced stage. Initially the model will incorporate available information on climate, vegetation water use, groundwater recharge and subsurface flows for the Leizhou Peninsula and for one or more Australian catchments.

This work will provide information on how Eucalypt plantations effect groundwater and soil eroison for both Eucalypt growth and irrigation of crop in areads surrounding the plantation.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Jun 2003

Partners

CSIRO Land and Water - Australia
China Eucalypt Research Centre - China
University of Melbourne - Australia
South China Institute of Botany - China
Research Institute of Tropical Forestry - China

Leaders

Dr Jim Morris

Email

jim.morris@nre.vic.gov.au

Phone

03 9450 8722

Launch Website

Mechanisation of sugarcane production in south Guangdong Province

Overview of Project

The project is investigating the potential to mechanise some or all of the field operations in the production of sugarcane. Sugarcane is an important industrial crop in south China, grown mainly in the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Fujian. State farms are important cane producers. With the introduction of the household responsibility system, individual farm families were allocated land (average area 1.6 hectares) on which to grow cane. Because of the economic problems flowing from low sugar prices resulting in shortages of labour and interest in growing more profitable crops, the managers of some state farm companies believe the solution to their problems lie in mechanisation of canegrowing and harvesting operations. This study is designed to evaluate the economic attractiveness of mechanised cane production in south China.

Key Outcomes of Project

Ou, Y., Wegener, M.K., Yang, D., Chen, L., and Yu, P., 1998. “Experimental investigation on performance of sugarcane machinery in Guang Qian Farm in China”, Paper SEAg 98/088, International Conference on Engineering in Agriculture, Perth, Western Australia, 27-30 September 1998. Wegener, M.K., Ou, Y., Yang D., Chen, L., and Yu, P., “Mechanisation of sugarcane production in China: Experience with sugarcane machinsery on Guang Qian State Farm”, contributed paper, 1999 Annual Conference of Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Christchurch, New Zealand, 19-22 January 1999.

Wegener, M.K., Ou, Y., and …….2001, “Experience with evaluating mechanised sugarcane production in Zhangjiang, China"" paper for ISSCT conference, Brisbane, 2001 (in preparation).

Project Dates

01 Sep 1998 - 01 Dec 2000

Partners

The University of Queensland
South China Agricultural University

High yielding anthracnose-resistant Stylosanthes for agricultural systems in India and China

Overview of Project

Stylosanthes is a fast-growing, tropical leguminous plant with various uses. In China it is mainly used as a green manure for soil enhancements, and in feed meal productions. Its nitrogen-fixing properties also help replenish soil nutrients in ley farming and intercropping systems. It also helps restore marginal lands with infertile acid soils and is important in revegetation programs.

Stylosanthes is also important in Central and South America, Africa and other Asian countries. The beef industry in northern Australia increasingly relies on Stylosanthes as a pasture plant for cattle. However, the major constraint to its use, wherever it is grown, is the fungus diseases anthracnose. The fungus is diverse and quick to adapt, and with growing international travel and trade the risk of even more damaging fungal strains entering Australia, India or China is increasing.

In this project Australia contributed its recognised experience in tropical pasture technology - its Stylosanthes expertise in particular - to help combat the anthracnose disease problem.

The aim of the project was to select strains of Stylosanthes resistant to anthracnose, with the ultimate intention of providing high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of Stylosanthes that perform better on the farms of India, China and northern Australia."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project made excellent progress against all objectives. There was extensive screening of lines from all partners and many showed excellent resistance. The project contributed to the release of two cultivars of Stylosanthes seabrana for Maharashtra in India, two S. guianensis cultivars named Reyan7 and Reyan10 in China, and one S. capitata-S. macrocephala multiline cultivar ‘Estilosantes Campo Grande’ in Brazil. Quantitative traits loci (QTLs) for resistance were mapped and several are available as markers. Studies of anthracnose epidemiology and risk mapping have given, for the first time, a clear understanding of the genetic structure and virulence of the C. gloeosporioides population in all participating countries.

The project established a stylo web site: www.csiro.au/stylointernational. Project experiences and findings are also described in an ACIAR publication entitled ‘High-yielding Anthracnose-resistant Stylosanthes for Agricultural Systems’.

The broad testing of extensive Stylosanthes germplasm in 20 sites across the world, the release of several Brazilian and Chinese cultivars, the knowledge gained on the nature of pathogen populations in India, Brazil and Australia, and the novel information on the anthracnose disease threats to Australia from China and India, are all examples of sound scientific achievements and outputs. It has expanded the scientific base considerably for continued and targeted improvement in anthracnose resistance in Stylosanthes in China, India and Brazil, and this will greatly assist the livestock industries of these countries.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1998 - 31 Dec 2003

Partners

CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia
Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Science - China
Indian Grasslands and Fodder Research Institute - India
International Center for Tropical Agriculture - Colombia

Leaders

Dr Sukumar Chakraborty

Email

Sukumar.Chakraborty@csiro.au

Phone

07 32142677

New technology for productive and sustainable reuse of wastewater for irrigated cropping

Overview of Project

This project explored the potential of water technologies (namely FILTER) and assessed how they dealt with the wide range of wastewater treatment problems faced by managers in China and Australia. Project aims were to develop new and simple procedures for treating wastewater on land so that it could be productively reused. The FILTER technique, developed in Australia, was tested for use in China and further tested in Australia.Reuse of wastewater for irrigation in China could save scarce water supplies and produce the same economic benefits that have come out of many effluent irrigation projects around the world. It would also help deal with the serious environmental problems caused by the dumping of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into watersheds. However, inappropriate treatment and reuse techniques can result in agricultural products being contaminated with pollutants from the wastewater, or cause land degradation in the irrigated area or downstream.

CSIRO developed the FILTER (filtration and irrigated cropping for land treatment and effluent reuse) technique for Australia to overcome some of the problems in land treatment of wastewater. The system was designed to treat primary or secondary sewage and to use the nutrients from it for intensive annual crop-growing.

Key Outcomes of Project

Results of trials at both the Griffith and Wuqing sites showed marked reductions in pollutant loads to acceptable standards; crops removed high levels of nutrients and yielded well. The results confirmed that when the FILTER system is installed at sites featuring soil with a high capacity for phosphorus uptake, with a stable soil structure to maintain hydraulic flows, and appropriate groundwater conditions it can reduce pollutants markedly and make the drainage water suitable for reuse, other than for human consumption.The FILTER technique produced water that meets Chinese standards, and also NSW Environment Protection Agency standards, for biological and chemical hazards. This has led to a further project LWR1/2002/113 Application of innovative irrigated cropping and soil filtration technology for wastewater reuse and treatment in China, in part a response to the heavy investment in the technology from the Chinese. The FILTER system technology alone will not solve all wastewater treatment problems in China. However, the research to date has shown that it forms an excellent, innovative component of a suite of potential solutions.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1998 - 31 Dec 2000

Partners

Tianjin Water Conservancy Bureau - Scientific and Technical Department - China
China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research - Department of Irrigation and Drainage - China

Leaders

Dr Nihal S. Jayawardane

Email

nihal.jayawardane@csiro.au

Phone

02 6246 5811

Launch Website

Water and nitrogen management to increase agricultural production and improve environmental quality

Overview of Project

The overall objective of the project was to increase the efficiency of use of nitrogen in the North China Plain (NCP), to improve crop production and decrease contamination of groundwater with nitrate and to reduce emission of greenhouse gases. A parallel study was undertaken as part of a large more comprehensive project in northeastern Victoria. The need to identify optimum water, N and P management for production while minimizing environmental impacts is fundamental to the survival of Australian and Chinese agriculture. The challenge facing China’s agriculturalists and planners is how to meet the food demands of its 1.2 billion people. The North China Plain (NCP) supports a large population through intensive wheat-maize systems. Production is based on large inputs of inorganic fertiliser and irrigation water - more than 400 kg/ha of nitrogen and 450 mm of water each year. Improving productivity is the preferred option to meet demand and can be achieved by improved efficiency of fertiliser use (especially nitrogen) and improved management of water for irrigation.

Earlier ACIAR projects studied the efficiency of nitrogen fertilisers in flooded rice systems and how to maximize the benefits of biological nitrogen fixation, mostly at the plot scale. This project was orientated to the environmental impacts of nitrogen losses from agriculture at larger scales. Scientists quantified water, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) losses from the soil-plant systems to the environment, and undertook systems modelling and study practices for crop, water and nutrient management.

Key Outcomes of Project

Project Outcomes

The project showed that on the NCP large losses of nitrogen and water occurred from maize grown in the warm and wet season, but losses from winter wheat were small. Losses of nitrogen were largely in the form of ammonia resulting from the application of urea to the relatively light and alkaline soils of the NCP.

The scientists found that simply changing farmers’ practices to applying urea just before irrigation markedly reduced gaseous losses of nitrogen. This practice is now being promoted to farmers around the experimental sites. For example, 20% of farmers near Fengqiu experimental station in Henan Province applied excessive N fertiliser and there was significant potential to reduce the N fertiliser input. A survey of Fengqiu county showed that the highest maize yields (not necessary the most economical yields) were achieved when 200-250 kg N/ha fertiliser was applied, but about 20% formers applied more than this amount. This excessive amount of N not only caused farmers financial losses but also increased the nitrate recharge into the ground water as a contaminant.

Using a GIS database the scientists graphically displayed the location of these farmers and advised them to reduce N use, and identify the real cause of their low yields by referring to their soil properties and management practices. The potential cost saving by using less N fertiliser with the possibility even to increase the yields is around RMB270,000 (A$63,000) for Fengqiu county, and RMB39m (A$9m) if extrapolated for all of Henan province.

For the first time in China the actual nitrate leaching was systematically measured and simulated. In the one ha experimental site in Fengqiu the nitrate leaching for the complete wheat-maize crops was 35 kg N/ha in the 1998-99 and 90 kg N/ha in 1999-2000, accounting for 8% and 18% applied N, respectively. This significant N leaching was caused by the excessive application of N fertiliser (466 kg N in 98-99 and 502 in 99-2000) and inappropriate and excessive irrigation (561 mm in 98-99 and 451mm in 99-2000). The county survey data showed no clear correlation between the amount of irrigation and maize yield. There was therefore significant room for reducing irrigation to reduce the nitrate leaching.

In northeast Victoria data collection and modelling at small catchment scales showed that even with P fertilisation (5-22 kg/ha P) that there was very little transport of P out of the catchments (0.1-0.7 kg/ha per year). There was a small decrease in drainage in high P input systems at Maindample (cocksfoot pasture) but the reverse was found at Ruffy (perennial natives). N losses were around 7 kg/ha per year in a dry year (1998) and 17 kg/ha per year in wetter years. It was found that grasses could not decrease drainage and therefore could not reduce rises in groundwater nor reduce salt rising up the profile. Deep-rooted perennials had to be used to reduce drainage."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1998 - 30 Jun 2003

Partners

China Agricultural University - China
Department of Natural Resources and Environment - Australia
Chinese Academy of Science - China
University of Melbourne

Leaders

Prof Robert White

Email

r.white@agriculture.unimelb.edu.au

Phone

03 8344 5013

Launch Website

Evaluation of East Asian citrus germplasm as scions and rootstock

Overview of Project

The specific objectives of the project were: to collect and exchange citrus rootstocks, clones, public access hybrids and species native to each country (Vietnam, China and Australia); to cooperate in the evaluation of citrus rootstock material including germplasm characterisation, assessment of tolerance to pathogenic and environmental stresses, and assessment of horticultural potential; to collect and exchange citrus scion germplasm of economic significance to each country; to assess, improve and maintain the health status of citrus scion germplasm; to investigate the feasibility for citrus seed introduction and the reduction of the juvenile period to provide fruiting wood (in comparison to the time taken for budwood introductions to be available for trial); to establish source trees of important new citrus scion cultivars in each country.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project successfully fostered the exchange of citrus rootstock and scion germplasm between Australia, China and Vietnam for the benefit of citrus improvement programs in each country and promoted the further collection and conservation of native germplasm in China and Vietnam. The subsequent screening of accessions for horticultural performance, salt tolerance and disease tolerance identified important sources of variation in key attributes relevant to current rootstock improvement programs.

Training programs have been highly effective in broadening the scope of citrus improvement programs in both China and Vietnam and in promoting the wider use of rootstocks to improve orchard productivity

Virus-free budwood of 20 public-access varieties was supplied to Vietnam from Australia along with seed of commercially important citrus rootstocks. Seeds of 13 citrus species and hybrids were supplied to China from germplasm collections in Australia together with budwood of public-access navel orange clones. In all, a total of 47 new accessions have been introduced into China. Forty-four new scion and rootstock accessions were introduced as seed into Australia from Vietnam and 35 accessions from China, including seeds from crosses made in China to investigate salt tolerance in Poncirus trifoliata. Along with the rootstock material introduced during the first project this represents a unique germplasm resource which will be of considerable long-term benefit to citrus improvement programs in Australia and internationally throughout the region.

Screening experiments conducted in Australia for Phytophthora, CTV, salt tolerance and early indications of graft incompatibility demonstrated wide variability among accessions. New salt accumulating and excluding germplasm was identified. Zaoyang zhi, a P. trifoliata accession from China has shown no indication of yellow-ring incompatibility (a major problem in commercial lemons) with Eureka lemon in early screening trials, and has great promise as an alternative replant rootstock for Eureka lemons.

Nine replicated preliminary field screening trials have been successfully established in Australia to assess horticultural performance and disease and salt tolerance of rootstock accessions under field conditions. Trials of Valencia orange, Navelina, Lane Late navel, Imperial mandarin, Eureka lemon and Fino lemon scion cultivars are revealing differences among accessions in effects on initial yield and yield efficiency relative to tree size. The field screening trials are being conducted as part of the National Citrus Rootstock Screening Program with funding support from Horticulture Australia.

The marketing period for citrus in China has traditionally been quite short but the introduction of new citrus varieties has served to extend the supply period and boost the industry. Among the introduced cultivars Lane Late navel has been extensively propagated and 100,000 trees planted in south China. "

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 30 Jun 2007

Partners

Southern Fruit Research Institute - Vietnam
Research Institute of Fruit and Vegetables - Vietnam
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia

Leaders

Dr Ken Bevington

Email

ken.bevington@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Phone

03 5019 8431

Regional water and soil assessment for managing sustainable agriculture

Overview of Project

The project aimed to improve water-use efficiency (WUE) and reduce related land degradation in defined agricultural areas in China and Australia. In much of the world, improving the efficiency of water use can help promote both the sustainability and the productivity of agricultural systems. The project aimed to improve water-use efficiency (WUE) and reduce related land degradation in defined agricultural areas in China and Australia. There are two factors in this equation: the pressures on the existing water resource and any limitations in the efficient use of that water in agriculture. To assess water-related limitations in agriculture, and the off-farm impacts of inefficient water use, predictive models and indicators of environmental sustainability are needed, both for the farms and for the catchments in which they operate.

This study focused on four major regions of agricultural production in China and Australia, all of which had significant problems of soil and water degradation. In the Chinese study sites, agriculture was well developed but productivity without irrigation tended to be low. Soil erosion was a problem, as well as lack of available water at the right time for crops.

In the Australian sites salinisation was a problem, along with water logging and other land degradation problems caused by rising groundwater tables. The project was designed to help local farmer groups and advisers identify signs of soil and water degradation, to provide information on appropriate actions to combat the problems and to monitor progress.

Key Outcomes of Project

Specific outputs resulting from the project were: validation in Australia and China of the WAVES model (an integrated energy and water balance model that has been under development with CSIRO and its partners since 1993), including the development of tools for optimising irrigation schedules based on increasing WUE; hillslope hydrology measurement and modelling; increased understanding of the soil-water processes linked to elements of degradation (specifically salinity and sodicity, as well as erosion on the Loess Plateau); the development of methods for the regional analysis of moisture availability, annual water yield, soil erosion, soil salinity and sodicity mapping, crop assessment and WUE mapping; refinement and application of indicator methods at farm, regional and national levels.

The research developed indicators for WUE and related land degradation, including waterlogging, salinisation and ground water recharge, in the Chinese study regions. Analogous work was conducted in catchments in South Australia and Victoria. In the irrigated parts of the North China Plain, models were developed to match the timing of irrigation with crop water requirements, with the object of maximising WUE and minimising the environmental hazards associated with irrigation.

The major outcome of the Chinese segment of the project was the consistent monitoring of agricultural WUE over 20% of the 300,000 km2 North China Plain from 1984 until 1996. Professor Liu Changming implemented the method for routine generation of maps of WUE throughout the entire Hebei Province, with funding supplied by the Hebei provincial government.

The project also prepared farm-level management manuals for both Australian and Chinese farmer groups and advisers, to help them identify signs of soil and water degradation. The project team had strong interaction with local farmer groups in both countries and with policy makers at local, State and national level.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 30 Jun 2001

Partners

Chinese Academy of Science
China

Leaders

Dr Tim McVicar

Email

tim.mcvicar@csiro.au

Phone

02-6246 5741

Launch Website

Sustainable mechanised dryland grain production

Overview of Project

The project aimed to determine the full impact of mechanised conservation tillage on crop production, so as to combine the practices of conservation tillage and controlled traffic. Water availability is the main factor limiting crop production in large areas of northwest China and in most of the Australian wheat belt. Grain production in the 300-600 mm rainfall zone in China is described as dryland. It occurs in seven provinces, much of it in the Loess Plateau area, with wheat and maize being the main crops.

Agriculture in this part of China has mechanised faster than the rest of the country. Use of buffaloes has declined and the traditional methods of tilling are not compatible with the new mechanised farming. In addition, with less human labour available for working the land the labour-intensive practices of the past may no longer be possible. Mechanisation is therefore essential, but vehicles can compact the soil in the crop zone, making it harder for water to soak in - a major problem in these areas that receive relatively little rainfall.

Controlled traffic, a system in which permanent compacted laneways are used for all heavy field traffic, is seen as a possible solution. Some of its advantages were demonstrated in ACIAR project 1992/009. As well as this, soil treatments and selected ways of tilling the ground can also help maintain good soil structure, reduce runoff and soil erosion, and promote water infiltration. The net result is an increase in productivity.

This project sought to evaluate wheel traffic effects further, in a range of diverse sites, as well as test the hypothesis that conservation tillage - where crop residues are left as mulch on the soil - would reduce soil disturbance and lower the energy requirements of the farm system. Because the wheat-growing areas of China and Australia share common problems, much of this research is relevant to dryland production in Australia.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project generated convincing evidence that this technology can provide significant improvements in productivity and economics. Its effectiveness is evident in the rate of adoption of reduced tillage in China, where 60 conservation cropping demonstration areas now cover more than 100,000 ha in 13 northwest provinces, and farm-scale adoption is evident in many areas.

Because the scale of field operations is usually small in China, project work there focused on the development and assessment of low-powered equipment and systems of reduced tillage. In Australia field equipment is heavier, so work focused on the impact of wheel traffic.

In China, over 10 years of continuous winter wheat cropping at Linfen, and spring maize cropping at Shouyang, conservation tillage led to yield increases of 18% and 15% respectively in the plots established in 1993, compared with traditional practice. Treatment effects on yield were greater in dry years, and water availability at planting had a major effect on wheat yields in this summer-dominant rainfall environment.

This project has shown that in Shanxi Province through the development of sustainable mechanised crop production systems, conservation tillage can increase maize and wheat yields by more than 10% - by greatly boosting soil moisture retention and reducing land preparation costs. Advances in machinery, together with strong promotion by the Shanxi Agricultural Machinery Bureau and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, have encouraged rapid adoption. The project has been heavily profiled, both on provincial and national television.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, Bureau of Mechanization is keen to invest heavily in a conservation tillage initiative for China, targeting 180 million mu (12 million ha) of the Loess Plateau and adjacent regions. This appears to be a direct result of the work conducted in this project. The Chinese project leader Professor Gao (Centre for Conservation Tillage, China Agricultural University) is an official adviser for the initiative.

The adoption has spread to other provinces. In Gansu Province the Ministry of Agriculture recently chose Xifeng as a pilot area for conservation tillage. Currently, 10,000 mu of farmland in the Qingyang County have been contracted to trial conservation tillage for winter wheat and maize as a demonstration site for other provinces. The contract for machinery is held by the Agriculture Machinery Research Institute (AMRI) in Xifeng, and it has based the design of its machines on work done by Prof. Gao. AMRI has conducted an experiment in conservation tillage for the past year near Xifeng City on a 42 mu plot of land, and claims to show an increase in winter wheat yields of 19%. Some 50 small zero-till drills (tractor drawn) for either wheat or maize are now available, with their design attributed to the ACIAR project.

In Australia controlled traffic conservation tillage methods are revolutionising management of more than 1million hectares of grain farming. Over a five-year period (three summer and four winter crops) controlled traffic zero tillage with stubble retention reduced cumulative runoff by 46% and increased rainfall infiltration by 18%. Mean yield of winter and summer crops improved by 15 and 12% respectively, compared with stubble mulch wheeled treatments. Some farmers also claim that gains from the 2-4 day relaxation in timeliness constraints on spraying, planting and harvesting are as much benefit as direct yield increase.

High-precision GPS guidance was available only in the last few months of the project, and it showed a linear accuracy of equipment to within 25 mm at 95% probability. This technology opens up significant new crop management possibilities, such as interrow planting and spraying, together with better matching of nutrient supply to crop demand. Options such as relay intercropping could facilitate the development of cropping programs that more closely mimic natural vegetation, and enhance the sustainability of cropping.

The scientists undertook preliminary calibration of the PERFECTsimulation model. Running the model over 44 years of Gatton weather data for wheat/sorghum opportunity cropping illustrated treatment effects on cropping frequency, and predicted an overall mean yield increase of 36%, and a reduction in soil loss by 95% when controlled traffic zero tillage replaced random traffic stubble mulch tillage. Validation ofPERFECT in China and Australia is continuing.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 31 Dec 2003

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
Department of Natural Resources and Mines - Queensland - Natural Resource Sciences - Australia
China Agricultural University - Eastern (Engineering) Campus - China

Leaders

Dr Jeff Tullberg

Email

jtullb@bigpond.net.au

Phone

07 3378 5249

Launch Website

Postharvest handling and disease control in melons

Overview of Project

This project documented the harvest, handling and marketing of melons in Western China and assessed the feasibility of using novel “defence eliciting” treatments for postharvest disease control. A joint initiative between the University of Sydney and the Argricultural University of China. The project focused on identification of the causes of postharvest melon losses in Australia and China and tested novel strategies towards the control of postharvest melon diseases. Novel strategies were urgently required to replace benomyl, which was withdrawn from postharvest use in Australia as of 31/12/1996.

Key Outcomes of Project
  1.  documentation of postharvest melon handling systems and the major causative agents responsible for postharvest melon loss in China. This will be done using the Australian system as a standard for comparison and testing the Australian control measures in China to reduce postharvest melon losses;
  2. investigation of the factors affecting the resistance of melons to the diseases. These include
    • test of resistant cultivars,
    • evaluation of systemic inducing resistance (SIR) agents and
    • understanding of environmental factors on the expression of host resistance;
  3. preliminary development of biocontrol methods for control of postharvest melon diseases.
Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 31 Dec 1998

Partners

Participants in China came from three laboratories (Gansu Melon Research Institute - Sichuan Pomological Institute and China Agricultural University) and a Department of Agriculture (Melon Quality Control Authority - Xingjiang Department of Agriculture) and in Australia from the University of Sydney and NSW Agriculture in association with the Sydney Postharvest Laboratory (based at CSIRO Food Science & Technology).China Agricultural University - China

Leaders

Dr Y Huang

Email

y.huang@agec.usyd.edu.au

Phone

02 9351 1807

Launch Website

Integrated control of citrus pests in China and Southeast Asia

Overview of Project

This project aimed to develop sustainable ways of controlling insect pests on citrus trees in Southeast Asia. The project used the techniques of integrated pest management (IPM) and concentrated on China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The work also sought to refine existingIPM programs for citrus that are currently used in Australia. The main technology studied was the application of petroleum spray oils (PSOs).

China is one of the richest centres of citrus variety in the world and has become increasingly important in global production. More than one million hectares of citrus are planted, making citrus the country’s second largest fruit crop planting. Despite this, local demand still outstrips supply.

Citrus trees suffer from a wide range of insect and mite pests. These can cause serious reductions in yields or simply ruin fruit. The use of broad-spectrum insecticides in Asia and Australia has had mixed effects. Long-term worries of insecticide use include reductions in the population of beneficial insects, which are predatory on the pest species, as well as the development of resistance and the existence of residues.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a broad approach to pest control that does not rest solely on chemical insecticides. It aims to be practical, effective, economic and protective of public health and the environment. It can make use of biological control as well as substances that are inimical to the pests without being toxic.

In citrus pest management, PSOs have emerged as a significant new factor in IPM programs. They do not pose a threat to the environment at the doses used, and target insects cannot develop resistance. Operators need only minimal protection when using them. Previous ACIAR research had shown that these oils can provide a level of control of all the main leaf and fruit pests of citrus equivalent to conventional insecticides.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project clearly demonstrated that petroleum spray oil is an effective selective pesticide across all 12 experimental locations in China and Southeast Asia. This supported previous research findings that incorporation of PSOs into citrus IPM programs provides as effective or better control of most major citrus pests than control programs based on broad-spectrum synthetic pesticides. Populations of natural enemies are also better conserved in plots using oil-based IPM than other spray programs. Studies conducted for 2 years at four locations demonstrated that up to 10 applications of 0.5% narrow range, phyto-protected oil sprays per season did not cause visible phytotoxicity or have any effect on yield. It also produced more attractive looking fruit in three of the four locations.

Cost comparisons of IPM programs based on petroleum spray oil and spray programs based on broad-spectrum synthetic pesticides in nine locations provided mixed results. In Guangdong Province China the cost of the oil-based program was consistently less than the broad-spectrum pesticide program. However, the trend was evident that as oil is used for a longer period of time in a particular location, the more likely it is that the cost of oil-based IPM will be less than other pest control programs. This may be because the badly degraded natural enemy populations need a period of a number of seasons to recover to a level where they can effectively contribute to pest control.

The comprehensive results of this project obtained from locations throughout China and Southeast Asia provided important basic information about how to incorporate petroleum oil sprays into citrus IPM. The data were particularly pertinent because one of the major problems currently encountered in citrus IPM in the region is the diminishing number of effective selective chemicals as a result of the development of pest resistance. The project thus made a valuable contribution to the pool of information for development, refinement and extension of citrusIPM programs in China and Southeast Asia.

The project results if effectively extended would bring significant benefits to the environment, the health of farmers and workers who apply agricultural chemicals, and the health of consumers who eat the products. This is because PSOs allow the use of broad-spectrum pesticides to be minimised, they do not pose a threat to the environment at rates used to control horticultural pests, they are safe for use with minimum protective clothing and they allow conservation of natural enemy populations.

The major challenge ahead for citrus IPM in China and Southeast Asia is the extension of research results to the end-users. This is an enormous task because most citrus farming in the region is conducted on a very small scale by farming families. In China the average farm size is less than 0.5 ha and more than 3 million farmers are involved in the industry. 

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 30 Jun 2000

Partners

University of Western Sydney - Australia
Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
Department of Agriculture - Thailand
National Institute of Plant Protection - Vietnam
Department of Agriculture - Malaysia

Leaders

Professor Andrew Beattie

Email

a.beattie@uws.edu.au

Phone

02 4570 1287

Launch Website

The impact of genetic diversity on wheat productivity - a comparative analysis of China and Australia

Overview of Project

Lack of genetic diversity can potentially limit the ability of cropping systems to resist unknown or evolving pests, pathogens, or adverse environmental conditions. A major frustration in the diversity debate is that there is no clear definition or concise measure of genetic diversity at the farm level. The empirical evidence on the diversity - productivity relationship is also extremely limited. The objectives of the proposed research are: 1) to define and develop the concept of indices to measure genetic diversity in farmers’ fields and assess the extent of genetic diversity in wheat production system and 2) to quantify the impact of genetic diversity on crop productivity and variation in output

Key Outcomes of Project

Detailed country case studies of China and Australia will be used to explore these issues. By providing a better understanding about the relationship between genetic diversity and wheat productivity and stability in yield, the researchers will be able to identify the extent of variety mix that farmers can plant to ensure stable wheat yields over time. In this project, the researchers will also identify i) economically important traits that require breeders attention and from which source material may be available from CIMMYT; and ii) gaps in CIMMYT germplasm collections that could potentially be filled by Chinese materials.

Project Dates

01 May 1997 - 30 Apr 1999

Partners

Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy - Institute of Agricultural Economics - China
University of Sydney - Department of Agricultural Economics - Australia
NSW Agriculture - Agricultural Research Institute - Australia

Leaders

Dr Prabhu Pingali

Launch Website

Analysis of Socio-Economic Developments in the Chinese Beef and Cattle Industry (ACIAR Project Number: ANRE9502)

Overview of Project

The broad aim of this project is to take stock of the Chinese beef and cattle industry and to provide the basis on which both Chinese and Australian policy makers can develop effective strategies to maximize the benefits of current and likely future changes in this dynamic sub-sector of Chinese agriculture. The objectives of this research can be described in more detail as follows:

  • To identify and document emerging developments in the Chinese beef and cattle industry
  • To outline the economic and social effects of the rapid growth in the Chinese beef and cattle industry as well as the spill-over effects on the environment (and the cross linkages between these effects)
  • To identify and evaluate various strategies and policy measures which take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the recent developments in the Chinese beef and cattle industry "
Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 01 Jun 2000

Partners

Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Institute of Rural Development within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Department of International Co-operation within the Ministry of Agriculture
China Agricultural Economics Group
The University of Queensland

Launch Website

Analysis of Agribusiness Developments in the Chinese Beef and Cattle Industry

Overview of Project

"The aim of this research is to generate information about the development of the beef and cattle agribusiness sector in China that will be of value to the Australian beef industry over the next decade. The researchers also want to establish contact networks that will facilitate on-going participation by the Australian beef industry in the Chinese market as it emerges. The detailed objectives of this project are as follows:

  • To identify potential for growth and development of the agribusiness aspects of the Chinese beef and cattle industry
  • To identify opportunities for Australian beef industry interests to participate in the expansion of agribusiness opportunities related to the Chinese beef and cattle markets."
Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 01 Dec 1998

Partners

Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Institute of Rural Development within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Department of International Co-operation within the Ministry of Agriculture

Launch Website

Analysis of socio-economic and agribusiness developments in the Chinese beef and cattle industry

Overview of Project

The main aim of this project was to gain a comprehensive overview of the recent substantial changes in the Chinese beef and cattle industry. An important objective was to help Chinese and Australian beef industry officials formulate strategies and policies to take advantage of the recent developments in the Chinese industry.

Beef production in China expanded more than 15-fold between 1978 and 1994. This astonishing rate of increase was far greater than that of the pig or poultry sectors. Chinese beef grew into an enormous industry by world standards; at the time this project began China had 123 million cattle producing 3.3 million tonnes of beef per annum. The industry was modernising and commercialising at a remarkable pace, and in recognition of this the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture designated beef a major area of research.

The sudden growth and change in the beef sector was having major effects on the traditional production and distribution system, as well as on rural development in certain parts of China. Not all of the effects were necessarily beneficial. There was an urgent need to develop policies and strategies at the local, regional and national levels to guide the future development of this important new source of protein. Sensible handling of the beef industry was regarded as critically important for the future sustainable development of China’s pastoral regions.

Small feedlots were starting up in China and likely to become increasingly important. However, most existing feedlots were small-scale individual enterprises with generally low levels of technical and managerial expertise. The long experience of Australia in beef production was regarded as an asset to both countries. "

Key Outcomes of Project

In the course of undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the socioeconomic and agribusiness aspects of developments in the Chinese cattle and beef industry the project researchers examined many specific areas and grouped them into various dimensions of the analysis. Development was a central component of the project, and the main focus was the two-way relationship between industry development on the one hand and rural incomes, government revenues and other social issues on the other.

The regional dimension became a key aspect of the project. Researchers identified the spatial distribution of the cattle and beef industry as a crucial theme, and incorporated issues of regional comparative advantage, integration and development.

Agribusiness impacts were a major part of the overall project. The team analysed how overseas agribusiness interests could help improve marketing channels and supply chains to assist industry and rural development.

The project made a strong contribution to the study of environmental aspects of the beef industry. Whilst Chinese decision-makers emphasised the positive but not the negative environmental effects of industry development, both were explored in the project.

The main forms of project output were publications and an ‘end-of-project’ workshop. A large number of publications appeared in both English and Chinese, with emphasis placed on ensuring that key results were published through widely available Chinese sources. Publications were diverse, taking the form of substantive research reports and papers as well as conference papers, the intent being to disseminate and peer-review findings of the research in the widest possible way.

The list of publications also included many student theses associated with the project. While none of the eight students received direct assistance from the project in terms of salaries or research expenses, they benefited through access to project information and personnel, participation in fieldwork interviews, and other indirect benefits from loose association with the project. Conversely, the project gained much from their contributions by allowing specific areas to be covered in much greater detail than would otherwise have been possible.

The study produced a database of contacts throughout the Chinese cattle and beef industries that contains in excess of 300 contacts and a reference database of over 500 references pertaining to the study. Another important project-initiated resource is a catalogue of field reports that present an unedited record of the 400+ interviews.

The project forged closer links between the various participants within the Chinese beef industry and enhanced the research capability of the collaborating Chinese institutes. The outputs also alerted Australian industry to the likely trade opportunities that are emerging as the Chinese industry seeks to continue its modernisation. Although the Sino-Australian beef trade is small, the developments in China could markedly alter the nature of the North Asian beef market, which is one of Australia’s most important outlets. This project provided important economic information about this for the Australian beef industry."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 30 Jun 2000

Partners

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences - Rural Development Institute - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - Institute of Agricultural Economics - China
Ministry of Agriculture - Department of International Cooperation - China
University of Queensland - Australia

Leaders

Professor John W Longworth

Email

j.longworth@uq.edu.au

Phone

07 3365 9015

Launch Website

Improvement of Adzuki bean in China

Overview of Project

Adzuki bean is native to China, where approximately five million households grow about 650,000 hectares. The grain is mainly produced in four northern provinces for use in foodstuffs (a market worth about $A1 billion) and for the $A75 million export market. In Australia, 500-1000 hectares of adzuki bean (cv. Bloodwood) supply about 400 tonnes per year of high quality raw beans to Japanese processors. This food legume could be a useful source of vegetable protein.

However, the plants tend to produce much leaf and stem but little grain. The crop is also a target for virus and fungal diseases and insect pests, both during growth and while in storage. As well, adzuki bean growth is constrained by inadequate nitrogen fixation and by sensitivity to temperature and daylength. In all, Chinese farmers consider the crop more risky to grow than cereals. The project aimed to stimulate plant breeders to work on adzuki bean, by characterising the germplasm presently available.

Key Outcomes of Project

The adzuki germplasm was shown to fall into separate groups for northern and for southern China, with additional groups overlapping in central China. A general centre of diversity was located from the Yellow River to the Yangtze River valleys inland in middle China, including Shanxi, Henan and Hubei provinces. Each group had characteristic genotype x environment interactions, with relative growth, phenology and yield rankings altered at each assessment location.

At Harbin less than 20 per cent of accessions produced seed. These were the earliest lines at all locations and apparently photoperiod-insensitive. Vegetative growth was the most vigorous at this site, which had the latest time from sowing to flowering.

At Liaoyang in Liaoning all but 28 per cent of accessions from southern and middle China produced seed, and standardised growth, phenologic and reproductive data were recorded for most entries. This site also recorded the greatest mean yield and the greatest maximum yield in China, and was the second latest site in time from sowing to flowering. North Chinese accessions yielded best at Liaoyang,

Growth of some entries was severely checked by unidentified virus(es) at all sites except Henan, with site specificity for infection pattern particularly at Shijiazhuang. Only a few accessions were virus free at all locations.

At Shijiazhuang (38 2’N) in Hebei all accessions produced seed. This was also the most uniform test site as per the variance of repeated check plots in an unreplicated nursery. This was the second earliest site and second ranking for mean yield. Mean seed weight was greatest at this site though Liaoyang was nearly equivalent and the maximum value for seed weight was expressed at Harbin. The greatest yields at Shijiazhuang were shown by middle-lower northern origin of accessions.

Zhengzhou (34 31’N) in Henan was free from virus, however 20 per cent of the trial was water logged so results were complete only for the remainder. Here accessions sourced from middle China were the greatest yielders. Vegetative growth was least at this site, though it recorded the highest mean and maximum pods/plant. Seed weight was generally less and yields were medium to low.

At Ya’an (29 50’N) in Sichuan, there was a high level of virus infection, as well as insect damage to seed set. This site had the earliest mean time to flowering, was the second most vigorous in vegetative growth, but medium amongst sites for expression of reproductive traits. The best yielding group was from south-middle China, with high pod number compensating for low seed weight.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 30 Jun 2000

Partners

Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - Legume Laboratory - China

Launch Website

Common bean germplasm: trait evaluation and multivariate analyses

Overview of Project

The agricultural problem underlying this research is under-exploitation of large germplasm collections by plant breeders. Access to processed data on both CIAT germplasm and breeding lines is required for plant breeders world wide to interrogate CIAT databases for genetic resources to fit specific needs. Transfer of database software to Australia and CAAS Beijing China will give Australian and Chinese breeders direct access to information on genetic resources. The project will move towards linking the entire common bean germplasm database to internet so that it can be accessed from anywhere on the network. The project will also provide a model for the work envisaged in a separate ACIAR proposal on adzuki bean germplasm evaluation in China and Australia.

Key Outcomes of Project

In the first year of the project, a nursery of 134 lines especially selected for utility to chinese partners was shipped from CIAT and evaluated in China. Sixteen lines presented low levels of virus infection to unidentified local strains. Two Chinese scientists were trained in CIAT-Colombia, one in entomology and one in pathology. Work was initiated in CIAT on adaptation of a pedigree and data management system, ICIS, to bean databases. This will both satisfy the immediate objectives of this project and permit access to broader applications of ICIS in the future. A PhD candidate in Australia initiated descriptive analysis of the data on the bean core collection. Molecular analysis of the core collection advanced in CIAT.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

International Center for Tropical Agriculture - Colombia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
University of Queensland - Australia
Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia

Leaders

Dr S Beebe

Launch Website

Increasing crop production through biological control of soil-borne root diseases

Overview of Project

The aim of the project was to control various fungal root diseases that affect many crop plants by selecting and evaluating a range of Australian and Chinese soil microbes for use as biological control agents against the fungi responsible for disease. This would reduce the need for chemical fungicides or for cultivation treatments that could lead to soil erosion. The ultimate aim was to develop effective and reliable treatments that farmers could use to control important soil-borne root diseases of the target crops.

Soil-borne root diseases can often greatly reduce agricultural and horticultural productivity. ‘Take-all’ and Rhizoctonia diseases of wheat, along with ‘damping-off’ in vegetables and Verticillium wilt of cotton are of considerable economic importance in China and Australia. In southern Australia alone the loss of wheat to take-all disease is about $100 million per year. In China, where it is a problem under irrigated wheat, the value of lost production is estimated at $250 million per year. Cotton, one of Australia’s largest export earners, can also be severely affected, with the only solution being to replant the entire crop at considerable effort and expense.

Root diseases can be controlled somewhat by cultivation, but heavy cultivation may increase soil erosion. Conservation tillage regimes, introduced to reduce soil erosion by minimising the tilling of the soil, may benefit soil structure and water use but can actually increase root diseases. There are no signs that this has happened yet in northern China, but experience in America and Australia suggests that it is likely.

Biological controls were sought in the interests of safer and cleaner methods of disease control. A search for solutions that did not rely heavily on fungicides led to the introduction of beneficial soil fungi and bacteria that compete successfully with the pathogenic fungi, leading to disease control and increased root growth.

Commercial use of some of these microbes is now well established in Australia, USA, Europe and China. However, a major problem has been the lack of consistency in the response of plants to the application of these control agents, probably because of differences in the physical and chemical characteristics of soils. The project helped address this problem. It followed on from a one-year ACIAR project that tested the ability of selected soil bacteria and fungi to control take-all and Rhizoctonia of wheat under glasshouse conditions.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project showed that grain yield increases of 10 per cent were possible, with the best agents clearly outperforming fungicide. Good progress was made in understanding mechanisms of plant responses to biocontrol agents, and applying modern molecular techniques to these issues. One agent from Australia (Tk7a), with formulation from China, looked sufficiently promising to be considered for registration in both countries, and a commercialisation agreement between CAU and CSIRO was signed in November 1999.

Trichoderma Tk7a was produced under licence in China by the MinFeng company in 1999 and 2000. Factory procedures for producing the product were developed. Beyond 2000 the MinFeng company stopped producing biological control products, but new possibilities for sublicensed production in China progressed and formed the basis of an AusIndustry commercial development project. Field tests in Australia between 1999 and 2002 were done using the Trichoderma product formulated according to Chinese-developed methods. Potential for further commercial development in Australia was a part of the AusIndustry project.

However, despite the extensive field testing and the enthusiasm for commercialisation in China, the responses to biocontrol agents in wheat and cotton were patchy, sometimes because root disease did not develop in the control plots. The agents seemed to be as good as the fungicide seed dressing Baytan, and probably would be a lower cost option, but newer fungicides may be more effective. Progress was made in formulation of the agents for delivery to seed, overcoming what had earlier seemed to be an obstacle to its introduction. Testing on vegetables did not reach the field; effects seemed related to growth promotion as well as to disease control.

The ultimate aim of the project had been to develop a product for farmers to use, though this had not been expected within the life of this project. The fact that this stage was reached demonstrated a positive future for biological control and was a measure of the strength of the cooperation and the high level of skills available to the project.

An application was drafted for submission to AusAID China Program for funds to run a pilot agricultural extension project that covered general strategies for control of soil-borne diseases in western China (focus on Inner Mongolia). Biological control would be included as one strategy for control of disease. The production of appropriate, end-user-friendly extension materials was included as an integral part of this project. If successful this could be extended to other areas of China, particularly western provinces."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 30 Jun 2001

Partners

China Agricultural University - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Zhejiang Agricultural University - China
Australian Cotton Research Institute - Australia
CSIRO Land and Water - Australia

Leaders

Dr Maarten Ryder

Email

ryderresearch@chariot.net.au

Phone

0409 696 360

Launch Website

Quarantine decision support and training aids for China and Australia

Overview of Project

Movement of agricultural and forestry products has increased dramatically after reform of the marketing system in China, resulting in higher quarantine risks. To reduce these risks, quarantine services are being upgraded and a new training centre established in China. Due to the large numbers of quarantine officers involved, training aids are urgently required.

The main aim of the initial project was to develop a series of computer based modules to provide distance learning and decision support tools for use by quarantine officers concerned with domestic quarantine issues. In May 2000, this project was extended to achieve two further objectives - to develop a similar training and decision support system for use by quarantine officers concerned with international quarantine issues, and to upgrade the domestic quarantine product to improve its quality and user-friendliness."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project resulted in the production of a prototype CD-ROM in Mandarin. The CD consists of five modules, including -

Basic information and tutorials This module, which is organised in the form of a hierarchy of headings, consists of numerous pages of text and images covering the following components:

laws and regulation for plant quarantine;

basic knowledge including texts and images of quarantine pests, including insects, bacteria, viruses, pathogens, nematodes and weeds;

operational information, particularly concerning treatment methods for quarantine pests.

Quarantine quiz This quiz section allows the plant quarantine officers using the CD to test their information and knowledge concerning major quarantine aspects, including their ability to diagnose and deal with plant quarantine problems. The quiz is divided into subject topics and once an answer has been provided to a question, the user is given immediate feedback. Once all the questions on a topic have been answered, the user can review all of the questions and answers.

LucID keys LucID technology, developed in Australia by the University of Queensland, is a world leader in presenting and processing diagnostic information. Four interactive keys for pest identification are included in this section. There is a key to 31 Orders of insects, another to plant quarantine insect pests in China, another to plant quarantine diseases in China and the fourth to plant quarantine weeds in China. All four keys have images and text on the character states used for identification as well as text and images that provide further details on each of the taxa included in the keys.

Species fact sheets (species information) The fact sheets for the 34 quarantine species included in the LucID keys can also be accessed directly through this module. Each fact sheet for a particular quarantine pest includes information on scientific and common names, host range, damage caused by the pest and the symptoms caused, morphological characters, biology, methods and pathway of spread, plant quarantine surveillance methods and control practices. There are numerous images for a number of these pests, illustrating the aspects above, and a map showing the distribution of the quarantine pest in China.

Videos Two videos are included in the CD. Video 1 shows symptoms and methods for diagnosing bacterial diseases, while Video 2 shows fumigation practices for eliminating pests from shipping containers.

The prototype CD has already been used in training courses for domestic quarantine officers held at Zhejiang University and plans are being developed to produce a final version of the product for distribution throughout China. Because the CD is in Mandarin it has potential value for most domestic quarantine officers throughout China.

As trade within China increases and there are greater exports (particularly as a result of China’s involvement in the World Trade Organisation), the need for improved quarantine practice will increase, as will the potential benefit of this product. The additional activities that commenced in May 2000 will lead to further development of the training and decision support software to cover international quarantine.

The system can be adapted for other countries. Thailand and Malaysia, on seeing a presentation about development of decision support systems and training aids to quarantine in China and Australia, expressed strong interest in having the system modified to meet their own needs."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 2003

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
Zhejiang Agricultural University - Department of Plant Protection - China

Leaders

Professor Geoff Norton

Email

G.Norton@cbit.uq.edu.au

Launch Website

Improved diagnosis and control of peanut stripe virus

Overview of Project

Peanut stripe virus (PStV) is a major cause of yield reductions in peanut (Arachis sp.) crops in many countries. Naturally occurring infections have been reported in China, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar, and the virus has entered India and the USA with germplasm introductions. Yield losses due to infection under dry season, broadacre peanut production are frequently as high as 75-80%.

Australian peanut crops are free of the virus, and it is important that quarantine remains effective in keeping it out. Peanut production under Australian conditions would not be viable if yield losses typical of those produced by PStV were to occur. The risk of accidental introduction of the virus in imported raw peanuts is considered high, and aphids capable of transmitting it are widespread in Australian peanut crops.

Previous work using the classical breeding approaches incorporating host plant resistance had not produced any sources of PStV resistance despite exploring the entire world peanut germplasm collection (over 11,000 accessions). Resistance to PStV had been identified among wild Arachis relatives, but crosses to introduce this trait had not been successful, due to incompatibility between species. Therefore, genetic engineering offered the best opportunity to improve existing cultivars by selectively adding specific new traits such as virus resistance.

The main aims of this project were to develop further the gene transfer system developed in ACIAR project CS1/1990/017 (Improved diagnosis and control of peanut stripe virus) and to produce PStV-resistant peanuts by inserting a coat protein gene from the virus into commercial cultivars. Expression of coat protein genes in genetically transformed plants had yielded protection against a range of polyviruses (the family to which PStV belongs), but systems for producing transgenic peanut plants had yet to be developed.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project developed a practical and efficient genetic transformation and regeneration system for cultivars in both botanical types of peanut. Using particle bombardment technology in Australia and China, reporter and viral resistance genes were introduced into peanut. As well, an alternative Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system was investigated.

Four modified versions of PStV coat protein (CP) sequences were engineered and assessed in transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana plants for protection against PStV infection. The scientists achieved immunity to infection in about 70 per cent of the lines following mechanical challenge inoculation. Immune lines were protected even against isolates with the highest sequence divergence in the CP gene. Seven transgenic peanut lines of cultivar Gajah (Spanish market type) carrying CP2 or CP4 variations were identified as resistant or immune to infection to the virus in glasshouse trials in Australia.

Scientists working in Australia, China and Indonesia developed diagnostic methods for detecting the presence of modified viruses (a non-radioactive probe hybridisation for PStV, and reverse transcriptase-PCR assays for detecting and identifying a range of seed-borne peanut viruses).

A study of the biological and genetic variability of PStV isolates in Indonesia, Thailand and China found geographically related groups with wide symptom diversity. Indonesian isolates of PStV were identified as intra-species recombinants, while Chinese strains of peanut stunt virus were shown to differ sufficiently from strains in other locations, suggesting that they may form a third taxonomic subgroup of the species. This information is significant for future diagnostic tests.

Scientists in collaborating institutes in Indonesia and China working on peanut transformation and regeneration and diagnostics benefited from the project through the provision of equipment and the opportunity to participate in training with the Australian team. The scientists also took part in project coordination visits and a two-week workshop in Indonesia. Since the project’s final review, further transgenic resistance in the Gajah and Kelinci peanut cultivars was demonstrated using the technologies developed during the project.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1996 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Institut Pertanian Bogor - Indonesia
Research Institute for Food Crops Biotechnology - Indonesia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Ralf Dietzgen

Phone

07 33654968

Launch Website

Large-scale field demonstration trials with entomopathogenic nematodes to control litchi pests in Guangdong

Overview of Project

Lychee is an important and high value crop in Guangdong Province, but suffers severe damage from insect borers, which at times cause the death of whole trees. Farmers waste much money on insecticidal treatments that have little effect because the chemicals do not penetrate the tunnels of the borers. Small scale trials have demonstrated that introduction of microscopic entomopathogenic nematodes can kill 90-100% of lychee borers, and this project will adapt the methodology to mcuh larger scale and provide demonstrations of the possibilities to lychee farmers.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1995 - 30 Jun 1998

Partners

Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
CSIRO Division of Entomology - Australia

Email

robinb@ento.csiro.au

Phone

02 6 246 4292

Launch Website

Improvement of integrated pest management in brassica vegetable crops in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Overuse and misuse of chemical insecticides in the production of brassica vegetable crops has become a major problem in the Changjiang Valley, China. Insect pests have developed very high levels of resistance to pesticides, leading to increased spraying and higher control costs, and insecticide residues are causing serious damage to health and the environment.

Brassica crops account for more than half the total vegetable production and consumption in the valley, which supports 450 million people. The vegetables are grown commercially in small plots in the suburbs of the cities, with more than three crops often produced in a year.

Brassicas grown in summer and autumn usually receive 10-12 high-dose applications of pyrethroids, organophosphates, carbamates and insect growth regulators during a growing period of 120-150 days. With most of the vegetables consumed within a day or two of harvest, serious poisoning by insecticides has become a more frequent occurrence.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has made implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) in vegetable crops, with reduced pesticide use, a national priority.

The Queensland Department of Primary Industries has extensive experience with brassica pest management. Pests encountered are mostly the same as those found in the Changjiang Valley. Specific expertise is available and field work on these pests can be carried out under commercial conditions in Queensland.

The main objective of the project is to build on studies already conducted in China and Australia to develop sustainable management practices, involving significantly reduced pesticide usage and hazards, for brassica crops."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1995 - 30 Sep 1999

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Hunan Agricultural University - China

Leaders

Professor Myron Zalucki

Email

M.Zalucki@uq.edu.au

Phone

61 7 33651747

Launch Website

Improvement of faba beans in China and Australia through germplasm evaluation, exchange and utilisation

Overview of Project

This project aims to develop improved varieties of faba bean for planting in China and Australia. Identification of research priorities concluded that a project involving five Chinese provinces Zhejiang, Gansu, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Yunnan and Australia, with links to the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), should be developed.

One element of the project will be a collecting mission to southern China to increase the range of germplasm. Seed gathered from farmers’ fields and marketplaces will augment the World Faba Bean Collection maintained by ICARDA in Syria, which currently holds 4490 open-pollinated accessions and 5238 pure-line accessions. Faba bean (Vicia faba) is an important crop helping maintain soil fertility as well as contributing to human nutrition and intensive livestock production.

China is the world’s largest producer, utilising the grain legume in intensive crop rotations, however, the area planted fell from 3 million ha in the 1950s to 2 million ha in the 1980s. Prevalence for farming systems based on two rice crops during the summer means that current faba bean varieties are too late maturing for incorporation in these systems. Other factors include relatively low and variable yields and disease susceptibility.

In Australia, the Grains Council has targeted faba bean production at 500,000 tonnes a year by 2000 compared with 130,000 tonnes now. The Grains Research and Development Corporation is supporting a national research and development program.

In Australia, disease resistance, time of maturity and other attributes are also constraining the expansion of faba bean plantings."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1995 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

NSW Agriculture - Australia
Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Harry Marcellos

Email

harry.marcellos@agric.nsw.gov.au

Phone

02 67631168

Launch Website

Phosphine resistance in insect pests of stored grain

Overview of Project

Insecticides and fumigants are the most effective and flexible means of controlling pest activity in grain storage and handling, with phosphine being used as the main fumigant of grain in Australia, China and India. However, resistance to phosphine fumigation is emerging among many major pest species in Australia, China, India and many other countries. The aim of this project is to develop and implement management practices which limit the current problem of phosphine-resistant pest species and delay the further development of phosphine resistance.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project established that resistance within several major pest species posed a serious threat to the safe storage of grain in some situations. In China and India laboratory and field experiments led to formulations for dosage requirements for successful fumigation of resistant insects and provided a better understanding of resistance development and its management.

Very high levels of phosphine resistance were detected in several Chinese strains of stored grain pests (especially Rhizopertha dominicina and Cryptolestes). Field evaluations of phosphine use in China indicated that fumigation failures (i.e. incomplete control of pests leading to selection of phosphine-resistant strains) were inevitable while the prevailing practices persisted. A similar pattern emerged in India, while low-level resistance was detected amongst Australian isolates.

In Australia, scientists completed genetic studies on Chinese phosphine-resistant strains of three species. Results showed that two or more genes were apparently responsible for controlling phosphine resistance. Meanwhile studies in China provided information on the genetics and ecological fitness of resistance, and on cross-resistance to other chemicals, all of which help in understanding the evolution of resistance and in designing measures to counter it.

Studies in Australia showed that fumigations according to the protocols recommended for the CSIRO-patented Siroflo fumigation process (and similar procedures in Australia) did not control two resistant strains from China, therefore these protocols required urgent revision.

In China, field experiments in grain warehouses identified deficiencies in current practices, largely associated with inadequate storage sealing and gas-tightness. Modifications of fumigation techniques have led to improved maintenance of lethal dose (a higher concentration for longer) and compliance with agreed standards for fumigation success. The information on fumigation practices and modifications have helped the project team to formulate new recommendations for phosphine use in China to minimise the impact of phosphine-resistant strains.

In India the scientists formulated recommendations to improve fumigation performance and reduce development of resistance. Further research was recommended to show that a slow-release phosphine formulation could be used as a significant means of improving fumigation performance.

As a result of the project findings concerning phosphine resistance, Queensland and New South Wales authorities doubled the recommended dose for phosphine fumigation of grain."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1995 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

State Administration of Grain Reserves - Department of Storage - China
State Internal Trade Bureau - Dept of International Co-Operation - China
Central Food Technological Research Institute - Infestation Control and Protectants Department - India

Leaders

Dr Greg Daglish

Email

Greg.Daglish@dpi.qld.gov.au

Phone

07 3896 9415

Launch Website

Integrated control of citrus pests in China

Overview of Project

This project will build on the existing collaboration between the Biological and Chemical Research Institute (BCRI), New South Wales, Australia, and the Guangdong Entomological Institute (GEI), China. The main objectives of the research are to reduce the use of broad spectrum pesticides in China by implementing IPM programs and to improve Australian IPM programs through a greater understanding of the relative effectiveness of the natural enemies of citrus red scale and factors that influence their effectiveness, and through the introduction and release of a predatory thrips, Aleurodothrips fasciapennis (Franklin). Citrus production is an important subsector of Chinese agriculture and has increased threefold (28% annually) since 1978. Commercial plantings are expected to reach 1 million hectares by the year 2000. Emphasis on the use of broad spectrum pesticides (e.g. carbamates, organophosphates) since the 1940s has led to almost complete dependence on their use. The current annual cost of applying pesticides in southern China is very high up to 20% of the gross value of production per hectare.

In contrast, the 32 000 hectare, $250 million, Australian industry has successfully used integrated pest management (IPM) programs, based on the use of introduced natural enemies and C21C23 petroleum spray oils. In the late 1980s IPM programs were estimated to be reducing spray costs by $4001000 per hectare annually, particularly for the control of citrus red scale and white wax scale.

Key Outcomes of Project

A successful outcome to the project will benefit the Australian citrus industry with savings in spray costs estimated at $2 million per year as well as savings of up to $1 750 per hectare from reductions in downgraded fruit.

The Australian manufacturing industry also stands to benefit as the petroleum based oils are not produced in East Asia and Australian refineries are developing markets in the area. The project will also enable quarantine tests required for the release of A. fasciapennis in Australian orchards to be carried out in China at significantly lower costs than in Australia.

The benefits to China will include a reduction in the current unacceptably high pesticide spray costs, reduced pollution with pesticides and pesticide residues in fruit and reduction in health costs associated with the use of hazardous chemicals.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1993 - 30 Jun 1996

Partners

Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia

Leaders

Professor Andrew Beattie

Email

a.beattie@uws.edu.au

Phone

02 4570 1287

Launch Website

Forage management for the red soils of south central China

Overview of Project

The shortage of cultivable land in China is now a serious problem with losses due to road building and construction as well as to erosion. Ninety-five percent of China’s population live in the east and southeast and 600 million live in the 14 south and central provinces containing the red soils region.

Soil conditions are also acidic with high aluminium and iron oxide content. Widespread erosion has resulted in low soil organic matter and nutrients.

Due to clearing of the natural forest vegetation during the period since 1949, the red soils district now contains an estimated 480 000 km2 of eroded wasteland (18% of the total area). A further large area of the grassland is used only for low productivity grazing pasture. Reclamation of these deforested hillsides and the marginal lands surrounding rice paddies is now critical for improving the living standards of the region’s people."

Key Outcomes of Project

This project deals with the management and utilisation of forages after establishment, concentrating on pasture-only systems because of the greater return expected per unit of research effort for pasture. However, it is important to ensure that establishment costs are not put at risk by future crop failure.

The objectives of this project are to develop management stategies which will promote persistence while at the same time allowing forage to be removed from the pastures. The major climatic limitations for forage growth in the red soils region include the short cold winters with little sunlight, and frequent drought during summer and autumn."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1993 - 31 Oct 1997

Partners

University of New England - Australia
Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
CSIRO Division of Animal Production - Australia

Leaders

Associate Professor Donald MacLeod

Phone

067 732789

Launch Website

Emergence and integration of regional grain markets in China

Overview of Project

China is the world’s largest grain producer and consumer with total output in the region of 440 million tonnes in recent years. Although this represents only a relatively small proportion of domestic trade (3.15% imports and 1.74% exports, respectively), it forms approximately 13-15% of world trade. Changes related to China’s current move from a system of planned production and supply of grains to market reform therefore have important implications for the world grain market.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project aims to analyse the origins and impacts of the development of an integrated national market for grain in China. The project will evaluate: (1) the impact of regional comparative advantage on the emerging grain market; (2) the patterns of growth in grain demand in urban China; (3) regional demand, supply and trading relationships by grain types; (4) the marketing institutions needed to integrate grain markets; and (5) government participation in regulating regional and national markets.

These five factors plus the development of a database will be divided into six subprojects creating a more comprehensive and reliable picture.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1993 - 30 Jun 1997

Partners

University of Adelaide - Australia
Department of Policy - Reform and Law - Department of Policy - Reform and Law - China

Launch Website

Conservation and zone tillage research for dryland farming

Overview of Project

This project was created to address problems associated with growing wheat and maize on an area of about 13 million hectares in the North-West Provinces of China that receives an annual rainfall of less than 600 mm. Excessive cultivation of the relatively poor soils has led to soil degradation and water and wind erosion. Loss of water and organic matter has resulted in low grain yields and a depressed rural economy. The project aims to develop conservation tillage systems - i.e. systems providing optimal crop production while conserving soil, water, energy and other system inputs - to increase the sustainability of agriculture in China. At the same time, Chinese zone-tillage methods will be combined with the controlled-traffic method of tillage to improve the sustainability of Australian cropping systems.

Key Outcomes of Project

The expected benefits to China include an increase in wheat and maize yields and a reduction in erosion potential associated with residue retention. Pilot trials (with manual zone tillage) have indicated a yield increase in wheat of up to 20% from conservation tillage.

An increase in grain yield would provide additional income and, if 50% of farmers adopted the practice and gained a 10% grain-yield increase, annual grain output of the North-Western Provinces would increase by more than 1.5 million tonnes. Experiments on deep tillage and traffic control will indicate the value or otherwise of deep loosening, and the impact of traffic on the persistence of any beneficial loosening effects when using relatively light field equipment.

Benefits to Australia will include a reduction in tillage depth and intensity made possible by the absence of random heavy-wheel traffic. Increased surface soil stability and infiltration rates can be expected when wheels do not travel over the whole field area. There would be reduced runoff, and hence reduced water erosion.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1993 - 31 Dec 1995

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia - China Agricultural University - Eastern (Engineering) Campus - China

Leaders

Dr Jeff Tullberg

Email

jtullb@bigpond.net.au

Phone

07 3378 5249

Launch Website

Management of boron and zinc nutrition for oilseed crops in China

Overview of Project

Overview Objectives

China is the largest producer of oilseed rape - one of the world’s major oilseed crops. Production averages about 6 million tonnes annually (accounting for 27% of world production in 1990) from an area of 5 million hectares. Around 60% is produced as a winter crop in the central and lower Yangtse River valley. However, widespread boron (B) deficiency in the area presents a serious constraint to production.

While Chinese scientists treat crops showing acute signs of deficiency, such as floral abortion, with a B foliar-spray fertiliser, many crops with depressed yield due to B deficiency look normal, and miss being treated.

Plant and soil analysis offer prospects of much more sensitive and reliable diagnosis and prognosis of B deficiency. Likewise, critical evaluation of types of B fertiliser and rates of application should help lift production. Such investigations require special care, however - there is only a narrow margin between B deficiency and B toxicity. A further complication for the management of B nutrition of oilseed rape in China was demonstrated by recent trials at Zhejiang Agricultural University (ZAU), where high-quality cultivars were found to be more sensitive to B deficiency than traditional cultivars.

This project builds on two previous ACIAR projects, one that improved understanding of the management of B fertiliser use and another that bred high- quality oilseed rape germplasm for China. Australian scientists at Murdoch University (MU) and the Waite Institute are expert in micronutrient research, and the project leader has already studied micronutrient requirements for food legume crops in Thailand in earlier ACIAR projects. The Chinese collaborators also have a long record of micronutrient research, as well as close working links with provincial agricultural extension services. A number of exchange visits of scientists will be made between the two countries.

In China, the following four subprojects aim to increase the reliability of prediction of B deficiency in oilseed rape crops and the efficiency of the use of B fertiliser:

  • Development of plant analysis standards for the diagnosis and prediction of B deficiency and toxicity in oilseed rape;
  • Use of genotypic variation in the response of oilseed rape to B to manage B requirements of crops;
  • Determination of the environmental factors affecting the response of oilseed rape to B; and
  • Determination of the incidence and severity of B deficiency in farmers’ oilseed crops by surveys of plant and soil B levels.

Field experiments and surveys in China will be supported by research in Australia. At MU, scientists will undertake glasshouse studies to develop plant analysis standards for field use to diagnose B deficiency and toxicity; and at the Waite Institute, scientists will study oilseed rape cultivar variation in response to B to determine plant traits that can be used for selection of B-efficient cultivars for screening trials in China.

In Australia areas planted to oilseed rape (canola) are increasing rapidly. Although little is known of micronutrient requirements of the crop in Australian soils, nutrient deficiencies, particularly in zinc (Zn), are highly probable. Since Zn deficiency is also common in the calcareous alluvial soils of the middle and lower Yangtse River valley, it is appropriate that the project includes complementary studies on this element. Investigations similar to those for B will be carried out for Zn in both Australia and China, and a survey in southern Australian farmers’ fields will determine the incidence and severity of Zn deficiency in soil and in oilseed rape plants.

Rapeseed oil is the main cooking oil in China and nearly all the country’s oilseed rape production is used domestically. In addition, rapeseed meal is a valuable component of animal feeds. Production will be increased as a result of this project: plant analysis will be used to improve the efficiency of use of B fertilisers in oilseed crops, improved guidelines will be developed for the treatment of B deficiency, and B-efficient cultivars will be identified and used to decrease B fertiliser requirements.

Australia will also benefit from development of expertise in oilseed rape nutrition, and B-efficient genotypes identified in the China program will assist in the development of B-efficient cultivars in Australia. Both countries will benefit from the complementary studies on Zn deficiency in oilseed rape.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1992 - 30 Jun 1997

Partners

Murdoch University - Australia
Zhejiang Agricultural University - China
University of Adelaide - Australia

Leaders

Professor Richard Bell

Email

r.bell@murdoch.edu.au

Phone

08 9360 2370

Launch Website

Use of inhibitors to improve the efficiency of urea as a nitrogen fertilizer

Overview of Project

Overview Objectives Although nitrogen deficiency is a major constraint to increasing the yield of food crops in Asia to feed a growing population, fertiliser nitrogen is used inefficiently, with grain crops often utilising only 20-40% of the nitrogen applied.

A previous ACIAR project (8206) showed that much of the nitrogen applied in urea fertiliser is lost to the atmosphere in the form of ammonia and dinitrogen gases. Because urea is rapidly hydrolysed to ammonia by the enzyme urease in flooded soil, various urease inhibitors have been tried in the field as means of reducing ammonia loss. While these have had mixed success, project 8206 further showed that reducing ammonia loss alone did not reduce total nitrogen loss, because the nitrogen conserved could be nitrified, and then lost by denitrification. Therefore, it is usually necessary to limit both ammonia loss by using a urease inhibitor and nitrification by using a nitrification inhibitor. This combined approach again has given mixed results in the field.

Among urease inhibitors, a naturally occurring one identified by scientists at the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Science (FAAS) has given the most promising results. When used in conjunction with a nitrification inhibitor in a field experiment at Fuzhou, it increased grain yield by 15%, and uptake of nitrogen by the grain by 6%. However, its use in other countries has not been successful.

In the current project aimed at improving the efficiency of fertiliser nitrogen and increasing grain yield, the collaborators plan first to determine the factors controlling the effectiveness of synthetic and naturally occurring inhibitors under field conditions. They will undertake laboratory and field studies to:

  • prepare larger amounts of the naturally occurring inhibitor so that it can be characterised and tested;
  • determine whether there are enzymes other than urease in flooded rice fields that can catalyse the decomposition of urea;
  • determine why the effects of current urease inhibitors are short-lived, and develop slow-release inhibitor systems so that the effectiveness of the inhibitors will be prolonged; and
  • test the influence of combinations of urease and nitrification inhibitors on rice grain yield and nitrogen recovery in the field under temperate and tropical conditions.

Scientists from FAAS and the Department of Biochemistry, University of Queensland (UQ), will study the production and characterisation of the naturally occurring inhibitor. UQ scientists will also study the enzyme urea amidolyase, which occurs in green algae and could account for significant losses of urea fertiliser in flooded rice paddies when algae are blooming. Laboratory work will be done in Australia and China.

Scientists from the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, in collaboration with colleagues from FAAS and the Department of Agriculture (DOA), Thailand, will conduct field studies on factors affecting inhibition of urea hydrolysis and denitrification, and the effect of various combinations of urease and nitrification inhibitors on grain yield and efficiency of fertiliser nitrogen. The field work will be done in China, Thailand and Australia.

During the collaborative research, visiting scientists from FAAS will work at UQ, and visiting scientists from FAAS and DOA will work in the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry for varying periods, testing the inhibitors in both glasshouse and field.

If attempts to use urease and nitrification inhibitors in flooded rice fields are successful, nitrogen use efficiency and grain yield should increase. This would contribute substantially to Asian food supplies. It would also mean that less, expensive fertiliser would be required. Australia will benefit in the same way as the developing countries, although not to the same extent, because the country produces much less rice. Nevertheless, the inhibitors will increase the efficiency of nitrogen applied to other crops such as wheat and sugar cane.

The project will also strengthen the research capabilities of the Australian, as well as the collaborating, scientists. The latter will particularly benefit from the experience of working in the sophisticated CSIRO and University of Queensland laboratories and by working closely with experienced visiting scientists in their own countries.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1990 - On Going

Partners

Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Department of Agriculture - Thailand
University of Queensland - Australia
CSIRO Division of Plant Industry - Australia

Leaders

Dr J.R. Freney

Phone

(02) 6247-4470

Launch Website

Forage development of the red soils south central China

Overview of Project

Although China has made remarkable gains in crop production in the past 20 years, this has been mainly in fertile river delta areas. The extensive hilly and mountainous red-soil areas of southern China have been relatively neglected, and remain a poorly utilised resource occupying a favourable temperature and rainfall environment.

A feasibility study to determine the potential of the red-soil hilly areas was carried out in 1986 by Winrock International, ACIAR and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS). The consortium recommended the establishment of a research and development project aimed at overcoming soil erosion and plant nutrition problems in the denuded forest and grassland areas so that pastures, forages and trees could be established to provide feed for livestock and to conserve soil. Lingling Prefecture in Hunan province was selected as the target area for research because of the extent of its soil erosion and its proximity to livestock markets and the CAAS Red Soil Research Station.

In 1987-89, with AIDAB assistance, scientists from the University of New England (UNE) undertook preliminary work at Lingling with their counterparts at CAAS to develop an understanding of the problems and how to combat them. In the present project – which has been extended in scope to involve Fujian province – scientists from UNE and CAAS are building on the preliminary work in collaboration with colleagues from the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Science (FAAS). The group at UNE has a sustained track record in pasture establishment and development in Australia and Indonesia and expertise in measuring soil erosion.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • study the climate of the red-soil area with a view to predicting forage productivity;
  • investigate establishment techniques for forages and trees; and
  • evaluate the productivity of grass and legume swards, determine the fertilisers required to maintain these swards, and assess their impact on soil and nutrient losses.

The project will help overcome the shortage of feedstuffs in southern China, supplement or replace the high-cost suburban production of livestock, and enlarge the area devoted to fruit, legumes, speciality crops and aquaculture. It will also help enlarge employment opportunities, and reduce income differentials between advanced lowland areas and backward hilly and mountainous areas. Information gained through the analysis of risk of pasture establishment and the modification of methods needed to enhance success will also benefit Australia.

Field studies are being conducted at two sites in Hunan province and one in Fujian province. The inclusion of Fujian province will extend the research into an area with a more maritime climate, where temperate perennial species may be ideally suited. The field studies are being complemented and supported by computer studies at UNE, where interactions between environment and plant growth are being investigated in order to give the results of the study general applicability in the entire red-soil region of southern central China.

Climatic data are being modelled to estimate the risk associated with sowing pastures at various times of the year and the potential productivity and stability of the pasture systems. Sward plots have been established at the three field sites with a number of species and measurements made of biomass production, plant quality and soil and water loss. Experiments have also been established at each site to determine the amounts of nutrients required and the residual effect of fertilisers. Pastures establishment trials have also been initiated. In Fujian province, a set of soil-loss runoff plots is being constructed and these will be planted to the most promising grass/legume/fertiliser combination, with and without trees planted at close intervals on the contour, for soil and nutrient loss studies.

Chinese scientists trained in Australia are supervising the field studies in Hunan province and studies in Fujian are being conducted by staff of FAAS. The Chinese scientists are working closely with their Australian collaborators.

Project Dates

01 Nov 1989 - 30 Jun 1993

Partners

Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
University of New England - Australia

Leaders

Dr J Scott

Phone

02 6773 2436

Launch Website

Breeding and quality analysis of rapeseed for China

Overview of Project

Rapeseed - China’s most important oilseed crop - had a total production of 6.73 million tonnes in 1987. However, although high-yielding and disease-resistant, the varieties traditionally grown in China produce oil with high levels of erucic acid and a residual meal high in glucosinolates (double-high varieties). In Australia, and elsewhere, plant improvement in recent years has successfully produced double-low varieties (now known as canola). The reduction of the potentially toxic erucic acid and glucosinolates to acceptable levels for human and animal consumption has greatly expanded the potential uses for rapeseed oil and meal. In addition, plant breeders have utilised a cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) system to produce hybrid cultivars of rapeseed.

The plant breeders will evaluate and reselect double-low quality rapeseed lines for China, from material already screened for quality characteristics in Australia. Release of adapted material should follow in the early 1990s. Also, a further cycle of crosses is being made, to ensure double-low quality in hybrid cultivars produced using the Polima CMSsystem. After screening for quality characteristics in Australia, these crosses will be returned to China as F3 lines for evaluation, and the release of material derived from them should continue well into the 1990s.

Quality analysis will proceed in parallel with this work, and the researchers will develop, monitor and support quality analysis of rapeseed in the breeding programs of the collaborating institutions in China. The rapid quantitative method for measurement of glucosinolate content developed in Project 8469 is based on a reflectometer. The present project will implement it in China, and will also assist in the development of an appropriate method for monitoring seed delivered to receival depots. The changeover from high- to low-glucosinolate varieties will make it necessary to separate the seed lots into groups based on their glucosinolate contents.

The test-tape method would be suitable if all seed was either high or low and may be a useful tool for a first evaluation. However, some seed will probably be borderline and will need a quantitative or at least semi-quantitative test. This should be less sophisticated and quicker than the reflectance method and use simpler equipment. Work done in the earlier project should make it easier to develop such an improved test.

At the completion of this project, Chinese scientists should have access to a wide range of double-low germplasm for further selection and evaluation in both hybrid and open pollinated varieties, and further varieties will be released throughout the 1990s. A range of screening methods will also be available for routine use, including reflectometers in the collaborating institutions, with fully trained chemists to operate them.

Ideally extension could be achieved by a combination of the commercial companies who supply oil to the farmers, government extension agencies and non-government organisations.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1988 - 30 Jun 1991

Partners

Pacific Seeds - Australia
Oil Crops Research Institute - China

Launch Website

Interaction of chilling and light in limiting rice production

Overview of Project

Overview Objectives

Chinese scientists consider environmental stress to be the most important constraint on rice yield in South China, where two consecutive crops are grown each year. In the first crop, chilling temperatures cause death or damage of young plants. Late in the second crop they reduce grain weight. And in both crops low light levels caused by prolonged cloud cover during important stages reduce the growth rates. Currently available early-maturing rice varieties could avoid some second-crop damage, but have low yields.

The project will involve collaborative studies with rice research centres in South China to apply Australian-developed rapid methods for measuring chilling tolerance to the identification of promising breeding material. The scientists will also investigate the role of light as a critical interacting factor in chilling stress in rice, and the relations between low solar light and yield.

To analyse plant temperatures and canopy microclimates during natural chilling events in South China, the project will install equipment to measure: temperature and light regimes in seedling nurseries; plant temperatures during natural chilling events after transplanting of the first crop; light environment of flag and canopy leaves post-chilling; and the coincidence of high light intensity and low temperatures in both crops.

The CSIRO members of the team have developed a method of screening for chilling tolerance by chlorophyll fluorescence, which declines progressively during chilling at a rate that correlates inversely with chilling tolerance. The method is quick, can quantify the tolerance, measures living plant tissue non-destructively, and uses relatively low-cost portable equipment. Comparative measurements have established its validity on a wide range of plants, including rice and other grain crops, vegetables and fruits.

Scientists at the Rice Research Institute will continue a field program of selecting for cold tolerance in the second rice crop, which currently involves 565 local and 260 imported varieties. As selection criteria, they use chilling-induced sterility (measured by the proportion of unfilled grains at harvest) and the chilling effect on photosynthesis leading to reduced grain fill (measured by the weight per thousand ‘filled’ grains). Research in Australia will apply the chlorophyll fluorescence method to further screen the Institute selections, together with some from other sources, and will attempt to correlate the results with the chilling responses measured in the field. Preliminary experiments in Canberra suggest good correlation, and these will be extended in detail by comparing fluorescence measurements with soft X-ray analysis of panicle development as well.

The scientists will study both the development of chilling injury and recovery from it, in the absence of light. In addition to the new method, they will use gas exchange measurements and estimates of survival and relative growth rates of survivors. Comparisons between rice cultivars of differing tolerances will establish the time-temperature relations causing damage and the relative importance of the injury and recovery phases.

Other experiments will determine the relative abilities of rice cultivars to chill-harden when grown in a cool environment. Bright sunlight following chilling at night causes additional and severe damage due to photoinhibition. A detailed study of this interaction between chilling and light will begin immediately, with a limited number of genotypes. The scientists will attempt to determine the biochemical basis of photoinhibition, its importance for crop yield and the critical temperatures and light intensities.

Following from that study, they will examine low light intensity as a potential factor limiting rice production in South China. The need to persevere with short varieties which better withstand typhoon damage severely restricts the option to increase light capture by selecting for physical changes in plant structure; moreover, varieties selected to withstand high light intensities after chilling may be poorly adapted to make use of low intensities. However, methods devised for measuring photoinhibition may also provide a basis for selecting plants with enhanced light-capturing capacity.

The project should benefit breeding and selection programs not only for rice but for other chilling-sensitive crops, such as litchis. Results obtained, and the rice cultivars selected, should prove useful in other rice-producing countries."

Project Dates

10 Jul 1986 - 09 Jul 1989

Partners

CSIRO Division of Food Science and Technology - Australia
Rice Research Institute - Guangzhou - China
South China Institute of Botany - China
Australian National University - Australia

Launch Website

Utilisation of entmopathogenic nematodes to control insect pests in China

Overview of Project

Australian entomologists have developed successful techniques for biological control of agricultural insect pests using nematode/bacterial complexes. They now propose to develop these techniques further to suit the facilities, insect pests and wide range of environments in China. Entomopathogenic nematodes have the potential to control a wide range of insect pests, are harmless to other organisms including man, and have no adverse effects on the environment.

The principal aim of the project, initially for major field trials and then for general agricultural use, is to develop methods suited to China for huge-scale production of entomopathogenic nematodes, and their subsequent storage and transport. This has two major aspects: transferring existing techniques to scientists in China; and adapting these further to suit Chinese conditions. Experience elsewhere suggests that practical involvement is necessary for the successful transfer of techniques, which will take place early in the project so that nematodes can be mass-reared for other sections of the program in parallel with research into modified rearing techniques. One important investigation for rearing technology will be to find protein materials suitable for breeding media that are readily and cheaply available in different regions of China (e.g. fish offal in southern China). The very much lower labour costs in China relative to Australia may also influence rearing technology.

In order to provide enough cheap nematodes for routine agricultural use, the project should set up at least one mass-production facility.

Storage and transport of large numbers of nematodes in water suspension is not feasible because of the huge volumes that would be involved. Australian techniques rely on storage and transport with only a thin film of water present on an inert carrier, and it will be necessary to find suitable carriers that are readily and cheaply available in China.

Chinese scientists will seek to locate and identify new strains and species of entomopathogenic nematodes in China and to evaluate their effectiveness against various insect pests. The long-term goal is to find the most effective nematode for each pest; this means choosing one that has not only high infectivity for a particular pest but also suitable temperature and motility characteristics for the specific environment in which the pest occurs.

Since insect pests occupy a variety of niches (for example, in soil, within plants or on foliage), it will be necessary to develop differing methods of large-scale nematode application. And in order to ensure persistence of the applied nematode population, the scientists will need to determine the ecological factors - such as temperature and humidity and predators or pathogens - that affect the persistence, migration and infectivity of nematodes in the various habitats. This work may lead to development of strategies for minimising pathogenic effects, such as application of fungicides with the nematodes, or changes in the timing or concentration of applications.

A program of artificial selection is planned, to improve the usefulness of promising species or strains. The very short life cycle of nematodes should make it possible to improve their desirable attributes substantially by this means.

Mass production and inundative release of entomopathogenic nematodes is particularly suitable for biological control in China, because labour is very cheap there whereas chemical control is expensive. Australia will also benefit, because the conduct and evaluation of very large-scale field trials and the incorporation of nematode preparations into normal Chinese agricultural practice will afford experience in handling nematodes on a broad-acre scale. Problems of logistics can thus be identified and overcome without the vast expense this would entail in Australia. Benefits anticipated from the program are: access to an increased range of species and strains; an improved range of nematodes arising from an artificial selection program to be applied to both new and existing isolates; and improved methods of mass-rearing, storage and transport of nematodes."

Project Dates

01 Aug 1985 - 31 Jul 1988

Partners

CSIRO Division of Entomology - Australia
Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Robin Bedding

Email

robinb@ento.csiro.au

Phone

02 6 246 4292

Launch Website

Epidemiology of ephemeral fever in China

Overview of Project

Ephemeral fever, a disease of cattle and buffaloes, has been known in China for at least 30 years, although the virus was not isolated until 1976, when the first of two major epidemics occurred. In the second and much larger epidemic, in 1983, it had a prevalence of 30% and a mortality between 1% and 2%. However, the disease has greater economic and social consequences than the morbidity and mortality figures suggest, as it affects milk production, draught power in agricultural areas, and survival of calves. The losses make it important to predict any potential epidemics and to develop a national vaccination policy for controlling the disease, but neither can be achieved until the epidemiology is understood.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project had three main objectives: first, to develop a highly specific serological test capable of detecting ephemeral fever virus antibodies, which is necessary in order to carry out an epidemiological survey; second, to apply monoclonal antibody techniques to identifying a specific antigenic component as a probe for the virus; third, to study the pathogensis of experimental ephemeral fever infections in buffalo. Project staff will utilise the results of the first two objectives to evaluate and monitor the disease, in order to determine the need and usage of the vaccine.

To meet these objectives, the Elisa test (Enzyme-linked Immuno Absorbent Assay) is the most suitable. This test can be highly specific, can be standardised and is capable of automation, although it requires considerable research development. Its high specificity is important because of the close antigenic relationship of at least four members of this group of rhabdoviruses: bovine ephemeral fever virus and the Berrimah, Kimberley and Adelaide River viruses. Evidence from earlier research in Australia indicates that these last three cause subclinical infections of cattle. However, they produce heterologous antibodies in cattle, which cross-react with ephemeral fever virus. At present, no single test can distinguish between homotypic and heterotypic ephemeral fever antibodies.

Each of the virus strains will be incorporated into Elisa tests, and cross-reactions determined on sera obtained from cattle of known history in China and Australia. The heightened specificity of the test should separate the true from the false-positive result often obtained with other methods, and also allow accurate and rapid test results. Serum containing highly specific antibodies can be used to detect virus in viraemic animals or insect vectors, or establish its absence from semen used for artificial insemination, thus replacing the costly and inefficient virus isolation procedures in current use.

To increase the level of selected antigens, the project will include improved growth studies of ephemeral fever virus in tissue cultures. Parallel studies will involve a strain of ephemeral fever virus of Chinese origin and one of Australian origin for use in the respective countries.

A serum bank will be developed in China, at Harbin, in two phases. The first should be a planned initial survey that obtains sera from cattle and buffaloes in provinces where the disease occurs. In the second phase, sentinel groups of cattle and buffaloes on State farms in selected locations will be bled periodically for testing.

No world standard test exists at present for the diagnosis of ephemeral fever. The virus neutralisation test has an inherent variability that prevents standardisation. If successful, an Elisa test may provide the necessary standard. It should be applicable wherever ephemeral fever occurs, in countries throughout Asia and Africa as well as Australia.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1985 - 30 Jun 1988

Partners

CSIRO Division of Animal Health - Australia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Launch Website
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Australia-China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement

Overview of Project

The Australian and Chinese governments signed ACACA in 1984. The program enhances cooperation in activities related to agriculture, fisheries and forestry by helping to develop trading relationships and facilitating the exchange of technical information between Australia and China.

DAFF and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China (MOA) jointly fund and administer the agreement. Forestry delegation visits are co-funded by DAFF and the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China

Key Outcomes of Project

Since 1984, over 200 delegations have been exchanged in areas as diverse as:

  • horticulture
  • beef
  • dairy
  • wool
  • fisheries
  • forestry
  • food safety
  • agricultural and food processing, storage and transport
  • agricultural economics
  • land and water management technology
Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2014

Website
Launch Website

Supply Chain and Economics in Melons in China and Australia

Overview of Project

To use supply chain assessment and cost benefit analysis of potential innovations as drivers of technological adoption in entrepreneurial decision making at the farm level in melon production and marketing.

Key Outcomes of Project
  • Understanding the existing typical supply chains of melon production and distribution, including the precise nature of transport conditions, problems arising and personnel/agents involved in long distance haulage during representative journeys
  • Strategic analysis of business/power relationships between chain members in selected melon supply chains
  • Identification of the cost benefits of preharvest disease control and the use of postharvest technologies
  • Identification of the major factors affecting the adoption of the postharvest technology for melons, including risks, extension issues and supply chain member relationships
  • Appropriate training activities and materials for suitable supply chain members and extension officers to ensure on-going uptake of the project outcomes
  • Case study material (e.g. supply chain dynamics and consumer views on melon quality) that can be used for policy development
  • Improved supply chain management by the key stakeholders in the pilot supply chains
Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Partners

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Sub-Project 3 of Project PHT/1998/140: Postharvest Handling and Disease Control in Melons in China and Australia

Website
Launch Website

China – Bayer Crop Science Study Tour to Western Australia

Overview of Project

AGWEST Food Security provided a Western Australia Study Tour and Training Program for 12 senior Chinese agribusiness managers, led by Bayer Crop Science China. The program included presentations and site visits covering best practice in pest management, farmer extension and food safety, as well as participation in a ChemCert Western Australia Inc specialist training course in farm chemical handling and management procedures.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

China and South East Asia (2004)

Overview of Project

AGWEST Food Security was the lead agency providing AusAID-funded training in the region, covering epidemiology and risk assessment to underpin the establishment of disease-free animal zones. Shandong Animal Husbandry Bureau hosted the event.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

AGWEST animal bio-security, post harvest technology and pasture and fodder production. (1998 - 2006)

Overview of Project

Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese State Association for Foreign Expert Affairs, AGWEST Food Security placed staff on short-term technical exchange visits throughout China covering animal bio-security, post harvest technology and pasture and fodder production.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

BREEDPLAN

Overview of Project

BREEDPLAN is a modern genetic evaluation system for beef cattle. Using Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP) technology, BREEDPLAN produces Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for cattle for a range of important production traits. The BREEDPLAN software has been developed by the Animal Genetics & Breeding Unit (AGBU), which is a joint venture of the University of New England (UNE) and NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), with support from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). The BREEDPLAN technology is marketed by the Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI).

The BREEDPLAN technology is highly regarded in a number of overseas countries where it is made available under licence. BREEDPLAN has been implemented as the national beef recording scheme in Australia, New Zealand, Namibia, Thailand and the Philippines, and its use is also increasing in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Hungary, South America and South Africa.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Website
Launch Website

Tropical Rock Lobster Hatchery Project

Overview of Project

For more than a decade through its Rock Lobster Enhancement and Aquaculture Subprogram, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) has provided leadership and investment to support co-investments by private and other government agencies that are involved with R&D into rocklobster fisheries, biology and culture. This has included scientists in Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland working on the four rocklobster species that are commercially fished (Eastern Jasus verreauxi, Southern J. edwardsii, Western Panulirus cygnus and Tropical P. ornatus).

A custom-built water management system at NFC has been developed to ensure that the estuarine inlet water is treated to produce oceanic quality water. A battery of filters, ozone steriliser, UV treatments and other components are used to provide water of the highest quality.

Summer conditions are ‘manufactured’ for the wild caught broodstock, usually five females to one male. Clive says that they are able to spawn year round by mimicking the water temperatures and photoperiods. “After some multiple spawnings we sell the broodstock and get in a new batch. In time we will develop our own selective breeding program using hatchery progeny.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Website
Launch Website

Achieving food security in China - implications of WTO accession

Overview of Project

This project studied the implications of China internationalising its food economy, analysed the effect on the country’s food policies of China joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and devised a set of policies to help improve China’s food security.

Since gaining WTO accession China has begun to liberalise its agricultural trade. In the short term, the impact will be limited. However, global trade liberalisation is likely to increase in the future. Whatever policies the country chooses to adopt in response, there will be changes to the economy - including effects on rural incomes and food security. The Chinese government will therefore need to set up policies to assist disadvantaged groups and help with a smooth transition. The choice of food policy in China will not only have a significant impact on the country’s own economic structure, but will also help shape the pattern of world food trade and hence have important implications for major food-exporting countries such as Australia.

Joining the WTO came at a critical point in China’s agricultural history. In the mid-1990s, domestic prices for major grain products, including rice, wheat and corn, rose rapidly towards (and even sometimes above) international prices. China could subsidise farmers and maintain prices for its own grains above international levels, or it could tax farmers (as in the past) by forcing its prices below world prices, or it could opt to open its markets to world trade.

The impact of these Government decisions will determine whether internationalisation of the food economy would destabilise the domestic food market; whether the country could earn enough foreign exchange if it had to import grain; and whether freer trade in food would prevent further increases to farmers’ incomes and so widen the already large rural-urban gap in the country."

Key Outcomes of Project

A general equilibrium model of the Chinese economy with regional dimensions (CERD) was developed that included the eastern coastal, central and western regions. The model described five agricultural sectors and 39 non-agricultural sectors and distinguished between rural and urban households.

The modelling analysis found that regional income disparity, which has been worsening since 1991 will be reinforced rather than eased by the WTO accession. The eastern coastal region will have much higher gains than the inland regions. The analysis also revealed that the rural-urban inequality will worsen in all regions.

A new version of CERD with disaggregated agricultural sectors predicted that agricultural sectors would be adversely affected by the WTO accession: agricultural output would fall, grain and total food self-sufficiency rates would decline. However, the magnitudes of the impacts were determined to be smaller than initially anticipated.

It was consistently shown that the trade reforms China adopted in order to accede to the WTO will mean substantial structural changes within the agricultural sector. The reforms would seem to result in substantial negative impacts across the sector and a worsening of food security in the sense of reduced access to income. However, it cannot be stated too strongly that the outcomes of the reform have to be analysed from an economy-wide perspective.

In China, as in other rural-based countries, the main factors behind reductions in rural poverty will be the scope for rural households to earn off-farm income and for people to move from rural areas into industrial and services activities in urban centres. Therefore, to a very large extent, the success of the trade reforms will depend upon policies outside of agriculture.

The modelling has also shown that China’s monetary policy regime of the fixed yuan and capital controls has increased the rural-urban income gap by raising real wages and reducing employment growth in the non-agricultural sectors. Moving away from this monetary policy regime could lead to a much more rapid relocation of labour out of agriculture and thereby promote a reduction in the rural-urban income gap.

The study found that the entry into the WTO has boosted China’s trade in agriculture, especially its agricultural imports. China has had two consecutive years of trade deficit in agricultural trade since 2004. The country has no comparative advantage in land-intensive agricultural production and, as found in the study, the comparative advantage indices of these agricultural products have been speedily declining since China’s entry into the WTO. The pattern of China’s agricultural trade is consistent with the country’s comparative advantage and resource endowments. After the entry into the WTO, this pattern has been strengthened, indicating that China is moving closer to its comparative advantage in agricultural trade with the rest of the world.

The research team studied what economic effects the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) will have as it is established in two stages before 2010. The study predicted that CAFTA will increase social welfare and promote real GDP in both economies. There will be a large trade creation effect among the CAFTA members, and their total exports will increase during the implementation phase. However, there may be a trade diversion effect as trade between members and other regions decline after CAFTA’s creation. But as a whole, total world trade will increase, especially in the second stage of the full implementation of CAFTA.

The integration of the Chinese and ASEAN economies also provides opportunities for other agricultural exporting countries to increase their trade to both markets. These will come in agricultural commodities for which neither China nor ASEAN have a comparative advantage - such as cereals, milk, beef and raw materials."

Project Dates

01 Jan 2014 - On Going

Partners

Australian National University - Australia
Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy - China
China Center for Economic Research - China

Leaders

Dr Chen Chunlai

Email

chunlai.chen@anu.edu.au

Phone

(02) 6125-6565

Website
Launch Website

Dairy progression through cooperation

Overview of Project

Following on report written for the Victorian Government by Scott Barnett & Associates on Opportunities for Chinese Investors in the Victorian Dairy Industry, SBA and Carlisle Partners identified the need for Australian producers to integrate into the Chinese value add stream that Chinese investors are able to provide. The goal is to align undercapitalised Australian agricultural producers and processors with Chinese co-investors who are able to also provide distribution channels and/or end markets in China. The project's aim to to deliver high margin markets for Australian agricultural producers and processors while providing Chinese market with farm to plate traceability product that meet the 3 S criteria (Safety, Security, Status)

Key Outcomes of Project

Specific outcomes are commercial-in-confidence at this stage. In general terms outcomes so far: 1. Identified Australia's Bio-security status enables Australia to be an entry point for the world's animal genetics to China 2. Chinese investment can act as a catalyst to provide cohesion to the fragmented value chain in Australia and to its export markets 3. The vertical integration of many Chinese agribusiness companies provide a distribution channel for Australian input suppliers into China (e.g. Chinese coin vestment in animal genetics business provides access for Australian genetics to the much larger scale Chinese market

Project Dates

01 Apr 2013 - 01 Jun 2015

Partners

Scott Barnett & Associates
Carlisle Partners

Leaders

Scott Barnett
John Allen

Email

scott.sba@bigpond.com
jallen@carlislepartners.com

Phone

61428461566
+61292399050

The Center for Carbon, Water and Food (University of Sydney)

Overview of Project

The Centre for Carbon, Water and Food is a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to tackling the nations and region's biggest food security and environmental challenges through the integrated study of carbon, food and water. The centre has recently signed memorandum of understandings with both the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science and Nanjing Agricultural University. These agreements will establish the Sino-Australia Joint Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems and the Sino-Australian Laboratory for Food Security at the Sydney University campus with reciprocal facilities in China.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - On Going

Partners

University of Sydney

Joint Sino-Australian Laboratory for Food Security 

Overview of Project

The Joint Sino-Australian Laboratory for Food Security will focus on four major areas of research:

  •  Crop protection and improvement – the development of plant breeds for resistance to biotic and abiotic stress and for improved yield.
  • precision agriculture - new technologies to improve efficiency of land and resource management
  • climate change - securing soil and water resources and managing the atmosphere
  • food security - development of economic and social policy to secure food supply.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

University of Sydney
Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science
Nanjing Agricultural University

Website
Launch Website

Joint Sino-Australia Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems

Overview of Project


The Joint Sino-Australia Laboratory for Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems will focus on research in:

  •  adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects on agro-ecosystems including reduction of greenhouse gas emission from the agriculture sector
  • improvement of soil quality, especially the soil carbon and nutrient content
  •  reduction of water consumption in agriculture production
  •  prevention and reduction effects of plant pests and diseases on cereal production
  •  treatment and recycling of poultry litter and livestock manure.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

University of Sydney
Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science
Nanjing Agricultural University

Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity

Overview of Project

The Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRCNPB) has developed memoranda of understanding with two leading Chinese science agencies and a university to mount joint research programs aimed at curbing losses of grain and other vital crops to insects, moulds and plant diseases. Worldwide losses to insects and moulds are between 8 and 20% of global annual grain harvest – enough food to feed every hungry person on the planet.

Key Outcomes of Project

The initial research focus of the new collaboration will be in:
• Diagnostics including the timely identification of plant pests and diseases.
• The management of pests in stored grain.
• The aim is to reduce the losses incurred by insects and moulds, but without resorting to increased use of fumigants and other chemicals used in food production.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine
Chinese Academy of State Administration of Grain
Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University

Website
Launch Website

Australia-China Centre for Wheat Improvement

Overview of Project

The Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Wheat Improvement (ACCWI) will identify grain quality attributes by characterising and catalogue grain proteins (the key determinants of grain quality).  This will enable Australian grown wheat to better penetrate the China speciality product market and to increase wheat yield through genetic, molecular marker and bioinformatics technologies.

Key Outcomes of Project
 
  • Improved wheat cultivar selection in Western Australia and China to better match varieties grown for food, especially noodle, processing in China.
  • The development of grain quality forecasting tools that will improve the agronomic management and strategic marketing of high quality grains
  • Establishing the basis for the development of new wheat cultivars with superior grain quality
  • Identifying genetic resources for new wheat cultivars that are adapted to regional specific conditions; and
  • Increased food security through improved supply consistency of high quality wheat products
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

Murdoch University
The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Agriculture and Food and Australia Export
Grain Innovation Centre
Western Australia
FBFD Pty Ltd
Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Shangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Capital Normal University

Website
Launch Website

Australia China Joint Research Centre for River Basin Management

Overview of Project

Maximising water security and efficiency while preserving water ecosystems is a global challenge exacerbated by changing climates and rapidly increasing populations. This joint research centre will act as a research incubator to address national priorities for water resources management, increase water productivity and hence food security and economic returns while protecting water ecosystems.

Key Outcomes of Project

Key activities:

  •  Development of joint cross disciplinary research programs
  •  Showcase innovative technologies in water resource management
  •  Establish enduring partnerships between researchers and water agencies
  •  Develop technology and systems that improved environmental sustainability and the sustainability of rural communities.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - 01 Jan 2014

Partners

The University of Melbourne
Department of Water Resources
China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research
CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship
Southern Rural Water-Victoria
Goulburn-Broken Catchment Authority
Murray-Darling Basin Authority
CRC eWater
CRC Spatial Information
The University of Western Sydney
Department of Primary Industries- Victoria
Orica
Rubicon
NICTA Technology
The Yellow River Conservation Committee
World Bank in Beijing
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Gansu Provincial Water Resources Department
Tsinghua University
Haihe River Water Conservancy Committee
China Three Gorges Corporation
Northwestern N&F University
Chinese Agricultural University

Website
Launch Website

Australian-China Research Centre for Crop Improvement

Overview of Project

"ACRCCI focuses on discovering key genes and biological processes controlling plant development and stress tolerance to improve food security and agricultural sustainability. Improving crop productivity and stress tolerance is crucial to underpin sustainable agriculture and social stability worldwide. The issue has become particularly urgent in recent years in light of

  1.  the demand to double world crop yield by 2050 to feed more people with less arable land and
  2.  the increased incidents of Global warming-associated drought, salt and heat stresses and pathogen and pest infections.

To tackle this challenge, plant biologists and crop scientists from both countries have initiated strategic collaborative research in recent years with complementary expertise and facilities. The collaboration has begun to yield valuable outcomes and opened enormous opportunities and potentials for crop genetic improvement"

Project Dates

01 Jan 2013 - On Going

Website
Launch Website

Implementing INFFER (Investment Framework for Environmental Resources) in North-western China

Overview of Project

In China’s transition to a modern economy, development in the North-western China has been slower than in eastern regions, although still impressive by global standards. The government strongly publicises that environmental preservation is an important component of opening up the west. Soil erosion in the Loess Plateau has intensified sedimentation of the Yellow River. Pressure of population growth and economic growth has led to overuse of water, over grazing and cropping, which induce desertification, vegetation degeneration. There is great need for comprehensive analysis of environmental protection according to social and natural elements. The Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) is designed to provide a logical and robust framework to help environmental managers (national, and regional levels) make decisions about environmental protection and achievement of desired outcomes in the most cost-effective way. INFFER focuses on assets – areas of the natural environment that are considered to have significant or very high value from society’s perspective. In this project, INFFER will be applied in North-western China to environmental assets of varying size, from large such as large lake and river systems to small discrete assets. This will be helpful for sustainable development of the vulnerable regions in China.

Key Outcomes of Project
  • This research implemented INFFER in three regions in North-western China and assess its potential to be used by Chinese government. The project was conducted in partnership with relevant government and scientific agencies under the co-leadership of Professor Qiang Yu and Dr. Anna Roberts. The processes to achieve include the following:
  • identified and engaged with key scientific and government personnel in each region to assess their interest
  • Translation of INFFER training materials into Chinese
  • Following training, to assess whether adaptation of the INFFER framework is required to meet national, provincial or regional government needs
  • Development of detailed INFFER analyses. This involved collation and integration of available scientific, technical, socio-economic and financial information required for each environmental asset based project. Specific research addressed knowledge gaps, such as spatial biophysical modelling of crop yield over Loess Plateau. This provide information for nominated and trained asset leaders, and is specific input by scientific and socio-economic disciplines in China.
  • Presentation of preliminary results to key government agencies and policy makers, and then modification of goals/scenarios for particular assets as required
  • Modification of analyses if required to address interests and priorities of government policy makers
  • Assessment of whether INFFER can assist government decision-making and development of recommendations to assist current decision making
  • Journal papers and final project report, including a comparative analysis of the relevance of INFFER in the Chinese context and comparison with Australian context
Project Dates

01 Jun 2011 - 31 May 2013

Partners

University of Technology Sydney
Victoria Department of Primary Industries
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Northwest Agricultural and Forest University

Leaders

Qiang Yu

Email

Qiang.Yu@uts.edu.au

Phone

0424 068 418

China Barley Collaboration

Overview of Project

Soil acidity, salinity, waterlogging, drought and frost are key factors limiting barley growing areas and sustainability of production in Australia. Australian barley lacks genetic variation for tolerance to these stresses. Previous projects demonstrated China's barley is highly valuable to Australian breeding program. This proposal focuses on
(1) screening 1000 barley accessions for acid soil, drought, frost or salinity tolerance in China,
(2) identification and characterization of new genes from the Chinese germplasm for abiotic stress tolerance, and
(3) introduction and evaluation of 100 barley accessions in Australia. In addition, over 100 barley varieties introduced from the previous projects will be evaluated and integrated into Australian breeding programs for waterlogging tolerance. The new germplasm and genes for the abiotic stress tolerance will improve Australian barley production efficiency and stability, and extend barley production to more marginal soils.

Implications

  1. Introduce new barley germplasm from China and deliver novel germplasm to the breeding programs for tolerance to acid soil, salinity, frost or drought;
  2. Develop elite germplasm with acid soil and waterlogging tolerance and deliver this material to the breeding programs; and
  3. Develop new analysis methods and molecular tools for the barley breeders to improve breeding and selection efficiency for acid soil, salinity, frost or drought tolerance.

Objectives

  1. Improvements in the sustainability and efficiency of Australia’s barley industry through new germplasm, new genes and new breeding technologies;
  2. Increased grain yields and the extension of barley production to more marginal soils;
  3. Attracting Chinese undergraduates and post-graduates to Australian universities;
  4. Improvements in research efficiency through collaborative research with China where labour and operational costs are much lower.
Key Outcomes of Project

Outcomes

  1. Screening approximately 1,000 Chinese barley accessions for acid soil, frost, salinity or drought tolerance in six Chinese institutes with emphasis on germplasm from the low rainfall regions of Tibet and North-Western China. The introduction of over 100 accessions to Australia for further evaluation.
  2. Molecular markers for salinity or acid soil tolerance, developed from Chinese barley germplasm, made available for Australian breeding programs; development of a technique for salinity tolerance screening completed and available to any other programs; some of the physiological mechanisms for waterlogging, frost and salinity tolerance revealed, for use as selection criteria in breeding programs.
  3. Validation and integration of Chinese barley germplasm for acid soil, waterlogging or salinity tolerance in Australian barley breeding programs.
Project Dates

29 Jun 2009 - 29 Jun 2013

Partners

Department of Agriculture & Food Western Australia

Website
Launch Website

Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region, PR China

Overview of Project

This project was aimed at increasing the output of dairy products in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the Peoples’ Republic of China (TAR) at the time of the project, milk supply was identified as being well below demand and deficits were predicted for the coming decade. Grain production in TAR, whilst sufficient to satisfy demand for human consumption, it also needed to be increased to support supplementation of livestock diets (particularly dairy cattle). The project was directed at increasing household income and industry productivity and at developing community-based initiatives in dairy, crop and fodder production for farmers in the central valleys of TAR (Shigatse, Lhasa, Shannon and Linzhi Prefectures). The objective of the project is to understand and utilise the key factors affecting the adoption of improved technology, this includes identifying the attitudes of farmers, practical constraints and opportunities in implementation of recommendations, and initiating strategies and structures for extension.

Key Outcomes of Project

The overall objective of the project is to improve the incomes of Tibetan farmers on mixed crop/livestock farms by boosting grain, fodder and dairy production achieved through the adoption of technology on farms. The project builds on two earlier projects in Tibet: CIM/2002/093 ‘Intensifying grain and fodder production in Central Tibet farming systems’ and LPS/2002/104 ‘Increasing milk production from cattle in Tibet’. Specific aims addressed in 2009 (the second year of the project) were: the establishment of research programs to improve methods of grain, fodder and dairy production; on-farm evaluation of methods to boost cereal, fodder and dairy production; and the enhancement of research and extension capacity in Tibet. An external review conducted by the Prof Dennis Poppi (School of Animal Studies & Veterinary Science, University of Queensland), Prof David Connor (Emeritus Professor, University of Melbourne) and Mr Wang Jian (Office of Poverty Alleviation and Integrated Agricultural Development of Tibet Autonomous Region) concluded that the project had achieved most of its objectives, already had a good record of publication, and could see signs of adoption of the results in cropping and animal nutrition practices in the field. However the reviewers also felt that, in reality, much data remained to be analysed, interpreted in context and prepared for publication for various audiences. Having lost much of the first year of the project because Australian members were unable to enter TAR, data collection was to continue in the final year (2011). Given that, and a detailed but ambitious plan to complete and publish all data from the project the reviewers supported a proposed extension of the project from the original completion date of March 31, 2012 to the end of 2012, with funding to support essential travel and other activities for effective interaction between key staff members.

Project Dates

01 Apr 2008 - 31 Mar 2012

Partners

University of Adelaide - Australia Industry & Investment NSW - Australia
Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences - China
Tibet Livestock Research Institute - China
Tibet Agricultural Research Institute - China
University of Queensland - Australia
Department of Primary Industries and Resources - South Australia - Australia

Leaders

Dr Ann McNeill

Email

ann.mcneill@adelaide.edu.au

Phone

08 8303 8108

Website
Launch Website

Improving farmer livelihoods through efficient use of resources in crop-livestock farming systems in western China: an analysis of institutional and policy settings

Overview of Project

Within the broader ACIAR Project LWR/2007/191, ""Improving farmer livelihoods through efficient use of resources in crop-livestock farming systems in western China"", this sub-project aims to identify and analyse institutional and policy settings relevant to crop-livestock systems in Qingyang City in Gansu Province. The rationale for the sub-project is that the broader project will have greater impact, and farmers will realise greater benefits, if project research is aligned with local institutional priorities and policies. In addition to better targeting of project research, the potential for research findings to influence policy makers, and for policy needs to influence science communication, will be explored. The components of the sub-project are

  • Identification and analysis of institutional settings
  • Identification and analysis of policy settings
  • Develop linkages between science and policy
Key Outcomes of Project

Brown, C.G., Waldron S.A., Liu, Y.M. and Longworth, J.W. (2009) Forage-livestock policies designed to improve livelihoods in Western China: a critical review. China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 1, Issue 4, 367-381 Komarek, A., Waldron, S., & Brown, C. (2012). An exploration of livestock development policies in western China. Food Policy, 37(1), 12-20. Komarek, A., S. Waldron, and C. Brown, Livestock expansion as a development pathway: a heterogeneous-agent model for smallholders in Gansu, China, in 55th Annual Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference. 2011: Melbourne.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2008 - 01 Jan 2013

Partners

Nan Zhibiao and Hou Fujiang
Lanzhou University
The Animal Husbandry Bureaus of Qingyang City
Xifeng District and Huanxian County
UQ collaborating partner
Liu Yuman
Rural Development

Website
Launch Website

Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region: an economic evaluation of household livelihoods

Overview of Project

Within the broader ACIAR Project LPS/2006/119 ""Integrated crop and dairy systems in Tibet Autonomous Region"", this sub-project aims to evaluate the impact of on-farm cereal, fodder and dairy cattle nutrition options on household livelihoods. More specifically, analysis will:

  • Develop representative whole farm household models for systems under investigation
  • Collate information from surveys, interviews, project research and other sources for use in household models
  • Analyse impact of crop, feed and livestock options on household costs and returns (including opportunity costs and imputed returns), labour and land use, and other livelihood indicators
  • Assess household impacts against household objectives and constraints to adoption
Key Outcomes of Project

Brown, C. G., & Waldron, S., A. (2013). Agrarian change, agricultural modernization and the modelling of agricultural households in Tibet. Agricultural Systems, 115, 83-94. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2012.09.008. Brown, C.G. and Waldron, S.A. 2012. CAEGTibet Manual. CAEG Working Paper 01/12, China Agricultural Economics Group, The University of Queensland, Brisbane Brown, C. G., & Waldron, S. A. (2013). Agricultural specialisation and rural development in Tibet. Paper presented at the XI ECARDC (European Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development in China), Wuerzberg. Heath, T., Tao, J., Brown, C. G., Waldron, S. A., Wlikins, J., Piltz, J., Cummins, J., Rose, C., Coventry, D. and McNeill, A. (2012). Integrated agronomic and economic analysis of fodder options for Tibetan farming systems. Paper presented at the 16th Australian Agronomy Conference ""Capturing Opportunities and Overcoming Obstacles in Australian Agronomy"", Armidale. Brown, C. and S. Waldron, Role of agriculture in the livelihoods of farm households in Tibet, in 55th Annual Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Conference 2011: Melbourne.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2008 - 01 Jan 2013

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Science (TAAS)
Dr Nyima Tashi - Vice President of TAAS
Jin Tao - TAAS Tibet Agricultural Research Institute
Prof Se Zhu and Dr Tsamyu TAAS Tibet Livestock Research Institute

Website
Launch Website

Evaluation of opportunities and constraints for R&D investment into increasing water productivity of agriculture in north-western China

Overview of Project

An increase in rainwater use efficiency through innovative technologies can have a significant impact on production in the rainfed farming systems of north-west China and south-western Australia, where shortages of water occur in late spring and early summer. ACIAR contracted a team whose major task was to identify investment priorities and develop project design principles for a coherent and effective cluster of projects to increase the productivity of agricultural water in north-west China. The ultimate goal is to improve farmer incomes in dryland farming systems of Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in north-west China by developing and promoting the adoption of practical, low-cost technologies of rainwater harvesting and in-field soil water conservation. In south-western Australia researchers examined the potential to reuse fresh water harvested from surface and subsurface drains and then develop technologies for supplemental irrigation of wheat and canola.

Key Outcomes of Project

The four-person mission followed an internal ACIAR ‘Water Use in China’ workshop in August 2007, at which key ACIAR Australian co-operators presented progress reports on their current China projects. The mission spent two weeks in China in November/December 2007 and during that time held meetings and discussions with more than 30 agencies, institutions, farmer groups, individual farmers, and various levels of government.

In March/April 2008, the team conducted workshops in Lanzhou and Beijing with stakeholders to discuss an Interim Paper published in late 2007 and then refine its recommendations.

At the end of these two missions to China the team recognised that Gansu Province is facing a major crisis in terms of water supplies for irrigation. China (and Gansu) are already responding to this situation, especially in terms of saving irrigation water by lining distribution canals and commencing water allocation, quota and payment systems. Unfortunately this response has not always been supported with widespread on-the-ground application of existing and proven on-farm water use efficiency (WUE) technologies. However, programs which include government subsidies for technology, such as plastic film for mulching, are being well adopted. There have also been large government-supported programs to collect water in dryland areas for use in greenhouse vegetable production and supplementary crop irrigation.

Pasture management programs in China’s north-west focus on the use of deep rooted perennials such as lucerne, as a WUE method and as a source of animal feed. There is also considerable use of trees to replace cropping and grazing on some land types for degradation control, and programs such as ‘Grain for Green’ are very obvious. However, there is very limited consideration of total watershed water input and output balances which would lead to better allocation of water into its highest value uses.

The team found that ACIAR’s program is highly regarded by those stakeholders who are directly involved, but the program is virtually unknown outside this small circle of people. In addition, the R&D findings are being used by few extension officers. ACIAR’s project results are rarely incorporated into government programs for the relevant county because appropriate stakeholder linkages have not been well developed. The team determined that there are many opportunities for future ACIAR-funded research projects to assist the Government of Gansu to improve on-farm WUE. Some of these should be based on existing and known technologies which are ‘sitting on the shelf’ and simply need efficient and effective extension systems for dissemination to irrigation and dryland farmers.

The main project recommendation was for ACIAR to operate a technically directed program in a geographic location (preferably a small catchment) in Gansu Province which was not currently being substantially impacted on by large-scale national, provincial or bilateral aid or development support. This recommendation should result in larger and more multi-disciplinary R,D&E programs for ACIAR to fund, in conjunction with their counterpart stakeholders in Gansu. A bidding process should be used to plan new R,D&E programs which focus on specific catchments in Gansu Province and comply with design criteria that have evolved as a result of the mission’s findings."

Project Dates

01 Nov 2007 - 29 Feb 2008

Partners

Agricultural and Agribusiness Consultant - Australia
URS Sustainable Development - Australia
Chinese Academy of Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Mr Phillip Young

Email

pmyoung@ozemail.com.au

Phone

08 83579567

Website
Launch Website

Mineral response in Tibetan livestock

Overview of Project

 

A survey undertaken in 2005 determined the mineral nutrition status of pregnant sheep, lactating cattle and yaks in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. The survey team found that livestock were at risk from a number of mineral deficiencies, especially sodium, phosphorus, copper and selenium, with selenium status being particularly low. These mineral deficiencies could be contributing to the poor to moderate condition of the livestock in TAR, with marginal deficiencies resulting in reductions in growth rate, wool production, fertility and milk production, while severe deficiencies resulted in rapid weight loss and increased mortality. The economic and social costs of these disorders are difficult to assess, particularly since marginal disorders are not readily identified in the field and in addition, there is a dearth of information on the response to supplementation.

 

Objective 1: To refine information on the mineral nutrition status of livestock in the 4 major livestock production regions of TAR.

Objective 2: To determine the response to selenium, copper and iodine supplementation in sheep and to selenium and copper in yaks.

Objective 3: To build the research capacity and extension capability of TAAAS personnel."

 

Project Dates

01 Jan 2007 - 31 Dec 2010

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Murdoch University - Australia

Leaders

Professor Nick Costa

Email

N.Costa@murdoch.edu.au

Phone

08 9360 2485

Website
Launch Website

Australia-China linkage for improved rice cold tolerance

Overview of Project

This small research activity supported important collaboration between Australian and Chinese rice breeders in the development of cold tolerance in rice varieties for both countries. This is a high priority issue for Australia but of even greater importance in China. This project aimed to enhance linkages between Australian and Chinese rice research programs with a specific focus on improving rice cold tolerance. The project also enabled Australia to transfer new molecular marker technologies to China, and these will have an impact on China’s cold-tolerant activities as well as other plant breeding efforts. Planting cold-tolerant varieties will prevent substantial yield losses in cold years in both countries; planting these varieties also means that farmers can significantly reduce water usage.

Key Outcomes of Project

One major goal of this project was achieved through an International Rice Cold Tolerance Workshop convened at Yanco Agricultural Institute in December 2006. The workshop reviewed rice production and research related to cold tolerance in Yunnan province in south-western China, Guangxi province in southern China, and Beijing, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces in the northern and north-eastern regions of China.

A prime focus of the workshop was Yunnan, which was highlighted as part of the centre of diversity of the ‘japonica’ sub-species of rice. Yunnan’s unique geography has resulted in development of cold-tolerant landraces across the significant altitude range under which rice evolution and domestication has taken place within the province. Recent genetic conservation efforts and diversity studies have significant potential to identify new sources of cold tolerance (in addition to the existing genes for cold tolerance that have become relatively widespread in temperate rice breeding programs).

Further, Yunnan offers high altitude sites with naturally occurring low temperatures for broad-scale phenotyping for cold tolerance, allowing benchmarking studies of existing cultivars and selection within segregating populations. This linkage project has enabled such collaborative evaluations to take place. Further opportunities for exchange of germplasm and sharing of information on selection techniques were apparent from Liaoning and Heilongjiang. Here selection for cold tolerance is carried out in managed environments, specifically using low-temperature groundwater to irrigate the rice during critical sensitive stages, similar to the methodology used for rice improvement programs in South Korea and Japan.

The workshop also explored the ascendancy of aerobic rices (grown without standing water), under development in northern China in response to increasing competition for water resources and the consequent need to grow rice using less water. In temperate environments cold tolerance is a critical adaptive trait for any production system in which there is no standing water of any depth on the field. This is because the thermal mass of the water buffers the temperature of the base of the rice plant, preventing temperature excursions to the ambient maximum and minimum. This diurnal range is often more than 10C in temperate environments and minimum ambient temperatures regularly fall below the threshold for damage. Hence the need for cold tolerance as one of the suite of adaptive traits required for successful aerobic rice production.

The second part of the project allowed a small group of Australian rice researchers to visit a range of locations in China to maintain and extend established scientific links. The group explored research activities at a provincial and national level. Specific outcomes from the visit included: 1) the exchange of germplasm between breeding programs; 2) the development of two research-concept notes - one to focus on elucidating further genes and/or mechanisms for cold tolerance from within the germplasm resources in Yunnan, the other to set up a collaboration to test a segregating population under naturally occurring cold conditions.

A further concept note centred on the development of varieties adapted to aerobic conditions, building on the strengths of each of the research groups. The Chinese research component has continued to study root traits, while the Australian component is focusing on above-ground traits.

A final legacy of this linkage project is the ongoing involvement in the Temperate Rice Research Consortium, an affiliation between research programs in temperate rice-producing countries."

Project Dates

01 May 2006 - 30 Jun 2009

Partners

Liaoning Academy of Agricultural Science - China
Diversity Arrays Pty Ltd - Australia
CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia
Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Science - China

Leaders

Dr Russell Reinke

Email

russell.reinke@industry.nsw.gov.au

Phone

02 6951 2516

Website
Launch Website

Update on developments in the Chinese cattle and beef industry of relevance to the Australian industry (2006-2007)

Overview of Project

This project builds upon the previous MLA and ACIAR funded projects on the Chinese cattle and beef industry conducted by the CAEG between 1997 and 2000. Since that time, the industry - as well as the agribusiness and policy environment in which it operates - has undergone considerable change. This, this project aims to:

  • Update statistics on the Chinese cattle and beef industry, and provide a critical analysis of statistics in areas including production, consumption, price trends and trade.
  • Identify and critically analyse institutional and policy changes that impact on the Chinese cattle and beef industry, and Australian interests
  • Investigate change in the agribusiness and market environment of the Chinese cattle and beef industry including the breeding, cattle production, slaughter, marketing and trade sectors.
  • Communicate concisely change and drivers for further change in the Chinese cattle and beef industry and the opportunities and challenges that this poses for the Australian industry.
Key Outcomes of Project

"Waldron, S.A., Brown, C.G. and Zhang, C.G. (2007)  Update on Developments in the Chinese Cattle and Beef Industry of Relevance to the Australian Industry. Report prepared for Meat and Livestock Australia."

Project Dates

01 Jan 2006 - 01 Apr 2007

Partners

Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Website
Launch Website

Promotion of conservation agriculture using permanent raised beds in irrigated cropping in the Hexi Corridor, Gansu, China

Overview of Project

Gansu is a north-western Chinese province in the Yellow River Upper Drainage Basin. Between Gansu and neighbouring Inner Mongolia lies a distinct valley, the Hexi Corridor. In the past, reliable snowmelt water from the adjacent Qianlian Mountains has sustained the irrigated agricultural areas along the length of the valley. In more recent times, reduced snowmelt water has led to significant reductions in available surface water, whilst over-extraction and decreased recharge has lowered water tables in groundwater driven systems. As a consequence farmers are facing severe water restrictions (up to 50% reduction in allocations). Better channel lining has reduced delivery losses, but farmers have received few practical solutions to cope with the policy-driven cutbacks in water allocations, water price increases and pumping costs. Other food production issues associated with water restrictions - for example small farms, low levels of mechanisation, high inputs, conventional tillage, low incomes and the loss of young men to the cities - are placing further pressure on farmer livelihoods. Therefore this project examined and tested conservation agriculture, using practises such as zero tillage and permanent raised beds (PRBs) to reduce irrigation water use, maintain farm yields and improve farmer incomes.

Key Outcomes of Project

This 4-year project was based on the premise that conservation agriculture (CA) using permanent raised bed (PRB) technology could save water without yield penalties. The project team worked with farmers to successfully test a bed former, a 20 hp tractor-mounted wheat harvester and an integrated mechanical and chemical weed control implement, and later identified factories for commercialisation. The team also developed a tactile implement guidance system to facilitate precision planting. Prototypic lightweight zero till (ZT) planters based largely on local capacity were built and assessed. However, testing showed that soil disturbance was too high, slot closure inadequate and residue handling poor. A final version built in eastern China showed great promise, but still required minor modifications to cope with heavy residue, poor soil flow and adjustability to suit various soil and planting conditions. Under research conditions water savings were up to 43%, with minimal soil salinity accumulation. Average PRB wheat yield (6.4 t/ha) increased marginally. In contrast, due to low soil temperatures at planting, average PRB maize yield (11.3 t/ha) was 20% lower than conventional farming.

Average water saving for PRB in three on-farm demonstration sites established in the northern, central and southern Hexi Corridor was1.5 ML/ha (28.13%). Advances in on-farm comparative yield were not significant. However, PRB had significant economic, social and environmental benefits, which can be extended across the Hexi Corridor. On-farm data suggest a 2% annual increase of PRB adoption over 5 years would produce accumulated water savings of 2,520 GL.

A cost-benefit analysis revealed that PRB recorded reductions in water use, diesel use, labour input and machinery costs, totalling $312/ha less than conventional farming and producing a $318/ha higher net profit. However, PRB maize recorded an average loss of $92/ha. The increases in net profit were not considerable, but in relation to input costs and the low cost of living in the region, they could provide a substantial benefit to farmers in the longer term.

Capacity building included extension, monitoring and measurement, CA farming, mechanisation and trainer courses for 160 technicians and 45 researchers. Elements were conducted in Australia, Canada, various Chinese provinces, major cities in Gansu and at the demonstration sites. Project members and 2,000 farmers learnt a new and easier method of farming, which facilitated advances in water saving technology and machinery development many years ahead of current practices. With a greater appreciation of sustainable farming techniques they have extended fresh raised-bed farming to about 33,000 ha. Though not yet agronomically or economically sustainable, it was considered an interim step toward conservation agriculture until suitable PRB zero-till (ZT) machinery and weed control technology for ZT farming become available. These were the only issues limiting the broad adoption of CA in Gansu.

PRB as part of CA technology is on the cusp of rapid advancement in northern China. The Provincial Government in Gansu is promoting PRB as one of three key technologies for water saving; also the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Agricultural Mechanisation have expressed keen interest in promoting PRB in northern China. So the resolution of the performance issues of the lightweight planter is of the highest priority.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2005 - 31 Dec 2009

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
China Agricultural University - China
Gansu Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Gansu Agricultural Mechanisation Bureau - China

Leaders

Dr A.D.Jack McHugh

Email

a.mchugh@cgiar.org

Phone

+86 13995419104

Website
Launch Website

Improving the management of water and nitrogen fertiliser for agricultural profitability, water quality and reduced nitrous oxide emissions in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Project Background and Objectives

In China irrigated cropping demands careful management of water resources and other inputs. Wheat and maize are the two main irrigated crops grown in western provinces. Water use efficiency in these areas is often low despite water being a critical resource. The intensive nature of the cropping that is practised demands the use of fertilisers. Nitrogen fertiliser is the main type used but, as with water, its use is often inefficient and wasteful. The combination of water used inefficiently with more fertiliser than is needed creates environmental problems, beginning with nitrogen-rich runoff. Volatilisation of ammonia contributes to nitrogen loss, in turn requiring more fertiliser use. This also results in greenhouse gas emissions.

A Water and Nitrogen Management Model (WNMM) developed in past ACIAR research should help determine changes needed to improve current management practices. By working with the model and its associated decision support system in two AusAID projects in Inner Mongolia and Hebei provinces, better practices will be identified and then disseminated to farmers through the existing project channels.

The project is improving the management of water and N fertiliser to increase farm incomes, improve environmental quality and reduce N2O emissions from agriculture. The systems to be studied are irrigated maize and wheat cropping systems and intensive vegetable farms in the western Yellow River basin of northern China, and intensive irrigated pasture and maize, and rain-fed wheat systems in Australia."

Project Dates

01 Apr 2005 - 30 Jun 2010

Partners

University of Melbourne - Australia
Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Sciences - China
Cardno Acil Pty Ltd. - China Office - Australia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
China Agricultural University - China

Leaders

Dr Deli Chen

Email

delichen@unimelb.edu.au

Phone

03 8344 8148

Website
Launch Website

Sustainable development of grasslands in western China: policies, regulatory and market settings

Overview of Project

Within the project broader ACIAR Project AS2/2001/094 ""Sustainable development of grasslands in western China"", the CAEG is a collaborating institution responsible for the sub-project on policies, regulatory and market settings. More specifically, the sub-project aims to:

  • Identify, describe and categorise policies at Central level
  • Identify, describe and categorise policies at provincial level and below
  • Undertake a normative and institutional analysis of selected key policies and strategies (including the Grassland Law and related by-laws, specialisation and vertical integration).
  • Investigate the relationships between policies and their suitability to particular regions or systems, and make recommendations regarding future policies
Project Dates

01 Jan 2005 - 01 Jul 2005

Partners

Prof Ke Bingsheng and Zhao Yutian
Research Centre for Rural
Economy
Chinese Ministry of Agriculture
Nan Zhibiao
Lanzhou University
Wu Jianping
Gansu Agricultural University
Han Guodong
Inner Mongolia Agricultural University

Website
Launch Website

Sustainable development of grasslands in western China

Overview of Project

China’s western grassland regions provide the basis of the livelihoods of around 40 million people. The per capita income of Gansu, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are amongst the lowest in China, in part due to the poor productivity of the grasslands. A severe climate combined with overgrazing limit production; however, it is land degradation that is the main problem. Almost 90 per cent of the approximately 300 million hectares of grasslands are considered degraded. Dust storms, siltation of the Yellow River and declining biodiversity have all resulted and are accelerating and frequency and severity of such storms.

Rehabilitating these grasslands is a focus of Chinese Government policy and supporting international programs. Grasslands management concentrating on livestock farming systems aims to identify better strategies to overcome degradation and improve smallholder incomes.

The project is working to provide research support and training at a range of levels (including scientists, policy makers and extension staff) to contribute to the development and adoption of a systems approach to pastoral management. Achieving this will raise farmer incomes, while sustaining or enhancing the productivity of the resource base, and will help in identifying the priorities for research and development and Government programs by developing:

* a framework for grassland farming systems that integrates the major components that influence grassland use, and

* a suite of policy/regulatory approaches and on-farm strategies that impact positively on farmer incomes and grassland rehabilitation (using the farming systems framework)."

Project Dates

01 Jan 2005 - 31 Mar 2010

Partners

Charles Sturt University - Australia
Gansu Grassland Ecological Research Institute - China
Gansu Agricultural University - China
Industry & Investment NSW - Australia
Inner Mongolia Agricultural University - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
University of Queensland - Australia
Research Centre for Rural Economy - China
Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development for Agriculture - China

Leaders

Professor David Kemp

Email

dkemp@csu.edu.au

Phone

02 6365 7526

Website
Launch Website

Reducing spoilage and contamination risks of fresh vegetables in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Population growth in China and the expansion of urbanisation have increased pressures on vegetable growers to meet demand. Peri-urban vegetable production has been promoted as a means of increasing the availability and diversity of fresh vegetables in the growing urban centres. Spoilage of vegetables remains a problem, being caused by a range of factors. Peri-urban vegetable production systems are land and pesticide intensive. Competition for land and other inputs is at a premium, resulting in pressures on production, handling and marketing systems. High postharvest losses caused by fungal and bacterial pathogens are common. Inadequate washing, grading and packing facilities contribute to this, as does limited options for disposing of wash-water and waste. Limited fresh water and water and sewage pollution from inadequate infrastructure result in poor quality irrigation inputs, sometimes utilising raw sewage. These also contribute further to pollution as they enter water courses as run-off. Vegetables are also often washed in these same water sources prior to sale.

Advances in the detection and monitoring of risk factors have been developed for vegetables, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technologies. These are applicable to monitoring of both vegetables and wash-water. Such technologies can also be used throughout the supply chain to detect human pathogen transmission risk factors. Much is known about the range of risk factors, how to prevent these spreading and how to improve systems management, inputs and monitoring. Some of this has been developed for Australian systems but is also applicable to China.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2004 - 30 Jun 2009

Partners

Food Science Australia - Australia
Institute of Vegetables and Flowers - China
China Agricultural University - China
China National Green Food Industry Company - China

Leaders

Dr Robert Holmes

Email

robert.holmes@dpi.vic.gov.au

Phone

03 92109222

Website
Launch Website

Increasing milk production from cattle in Tibet

Overview of Project

The project major objective was to improve cattle nutrition and thus increase milk production, leading to better income from mixed crop/livestock farms of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Dairy products, notably milk and butter, are traditionally important foods in the Tibetan diet. Demand for these products, particularly milk, continues to rise, driven by changing consumption patterns and, secondly, population growth. Local supply has fallen well behind demand, with increasing reliance on imports. Milk production has traditionally relied on yaks grazed in pastoral lands outside central Tibet Autonomous Region. Recently yak numbers have begun to decline, with cow’s milk making up much of the production gap. Production in pastoral areas has also declined, with an increased expectation that central Tibet Autonomous Region’s crop-livestock zone will make up for this shortfall.

A specialist dairy sector would help boost production by an estimated minimum of 20 per cent. This can be achieved by improved feeds with greater nutritional value being made available to cattle. Livestock are largely fed crop residues (straw) and crop by-products and grazed on grasses and weeds, along with crop regrowth. This is poor nutrition and limits milk production. Improved feeding systems based around the effective utilisation of crop residues and by-products, better silage management practices, information on yearly feed availability and knowledge of responses to different feeds should achieve the 20 per cent boost in dairy production needed to meet supply and establish a specialist dairy sector."

Key Outcomes of Project

To identify constraints, a benchmark study was undertaken as the major activity of the project. Feed resources were characterised (type and availability) and data were collected to describe milk production and key parameters of reproduction. The most consistent and relevant finding of the benchmark study was the high reliance on cereal straws as the basis of most diets, and this was rarely supplemented sufficiently to provide adequate feed quality in total dietary intake. Associated with the generally poor nutritional status was depressed performance in all production parameters.

Although inadequate nutrition had been implicated as a major problem prior to this project, the research team gained a firm basis on which strategies for improvement (feed budgeting, forage production, diet composition, etc) could be developed. Apart from providing the benchmark data, the project has had significant immediate impact in promoting awareness of the nutritional scenario restricting current production and the principles to be applied in designing remedial strategies. In this regard, an unexpected outcome of great importance was the potential to influence local policy makers and funding agencies in deciding the best way(s) to improve production and alleviate farm family poverty. It appeared that previous and current decisions were often based on little or inappropriate advice on aspects of animal nutrition and production, and therefore unlikely to be biologically or economically effective. The feedback suggests that this project has already had considerable impact in this direction within a short time frame, a significant benefit from the ACIAR investment.

The project built on the local capacity to improve agricultural production by improving the skills of the scientists and field staff and provision of infrastructure. The upgrading of capacity for feed quality evaluation (including staff training and expansion of techniques) is vital for future research, as animal nutrition is without doubt the most important immediate area to be addressed in removing constraints to production. The animal house built at TLRI with ACIAR and local funds is the first and only facility of its kind in Tibet and of a global standard for conducting nutrition experiments. This will be pivotal to the key research required to evaluate feed quality, animal responses to varying feed regimes, examining responses of different genotypes and many other components required in the process of developing efficient and sustainable feeding and production systems. The facility will be available for use in many other projects and thus is a major asset for Tibetan animal research into the future."

Project Dates

01 Jul 2004 - 31 Dec 2007

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences - China
Tibet Livestock Research Institute - China
NSW Department of Primary Industries - Australia

Leaders

Dr John Wilkins

Email

john.wilkins@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Phone

02 6938 1837

Website
Launch Website

Application of innovative irrigated cropping and soil filtration technology for wastewater reuse and treatment in China

Overview of Project

Two thirds of China’s total crop production is from irrigated lands. There is, however, increasing pressure on water supplies from the spread of urbanisation and industrialisation. There is also increasing production of wastewater, resulting in environmental pollution. Most rivers, lakes, bays and groundwater sources are showing increasing signs of severe pollution, including from organic matter, nutrients, heavy metals and other toxic chemicals. As a result water use in agriculture, fisheries and recreation is greatly limited. Reusing effluent in suitable agricultural conditions is a possibility, provided appropriate land treatment and reuse techniques are in place. The project had three main objectives:

  • to develop and field-test innovative FILTER techniques for sustainable irrigation with wastewater at a demonstration site in Shanxi Province;
  • to promote the application of FILTER technology for sustainable irrigation with wastewater in Shanxi and other Chinese provinces;
  • to develop simple integrated approaches for siting, design and operation of FILTER and related technology in China and Australia.
Key Outcomes of Project
  • Objective 1: At Yanggao County near Datong city in Shanxi province, a field site consisting of three plots was installed on a farmer’s field to evaluate the catchment-FILTER technology. The scientists studied summer, winter and groundwater components, using instrumentation to monitor wastewater and pollutant flows through the soil.
  • Objective 2: Promotion of the application of FILTER technology for sustainable irrigation with wastewater irrigation in Shanxi and other Chinese provinces was carried out by the IWHR and SIWR researchers. The IWHR researchers in collaboration with Beijing Water Resources Bureau developed and successfully field-tested an innovative FILTER-polyhouse system to combine the FILTER technology with greenhouse agriculture systems to overcome the low infiltration during winter freezing conditions in north China. The FILTER technology was also promoted at discussions with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and provincial authorities.
  • Objective 3: Simplified integrated approaches for siting, design and operation of the new FILTER and related technology in China and Australia were developed. These approaches are incorporated into the guidelines for using Land-FILTER and Catchment-FILTER systems for using wastewater in China and Australia.
Project Dates

01 Apr 2004 - 30 Jun 2006

Partners

China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research - China Department of Water Resources - China

Leaders

Professor John Blackwell

Email

jblackwell@csu.edu.au

Phone

02 6933 4937

Website
Launch Website

Intensifying production of grain and fodder in Central Tibet farming systems

Overview of Project

This project sought to optimise the use of resources in cropping for the production of both food-grain crops and fodder crops in central Tibet by carefully matching crop types to the agro-climatic environment.

Agriculture in the central area of Tibet Autonomous Region takes place mainly on the floors and lower slopes of river valleys. Soils are fertile and average rainfall, mostly falling between July and October, sufficient to support cropping. Barley, wheat, rapeseed, faba bean, maize, vegetables, potato and fodder crops are all grown. The high altitude of the cropping zone means growing periods are characterised by high sunshine intensity and large divergence between day and night temperatures. These characteristics require specific management practices for cropping.

Current levels of grain production are close to achieving self-sufficiency but need further improvement, as importing of grain to so remote a region is costly. This shortfall also has implications for livestock production, another very important component of agriculture in Tibet Autonomous Region. Animal rearing provides opportunities for additional cash incomes, but dependence on grassland grazing as the main form of fattening hampers growth rates in comparison to feeding with fodder crops. This poor nutrition remains an impediment to increased growth and limits possible cash returns. Intensifying overall cropping in both grain and fodder production will result in improvements through the whole system - bringing cereal self-sufficiency closer and improving animal growth to boost incomes.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project was successful in obtaining information on the natural resource base and current systems for crop and fodder production in Tibet, and in compiling this into a comprehensive review. The researchers concluded that the valleys of central Tibet are highly suitable for the production of high-yielding grain crops, but that the current cropping systems leave significant plant growth resources unutilised. This review now provides a foundation for further agricultural research and development work both locally at Tibet Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and with international collaborators.

Secondly, two different options were explored to boost fodder production in Tibet without unacceptable impacts on grain production - these were the broadcast-sowing of vetch (Vicia sativa) seed into maturing stands of winter wheat, and the inter-row sowing of vetch and lucerne (Medicago sativa) into widely sown crops of winter wheat and barley. The broadcast sowing of vetch allowed the production of around 3 tonnes per hectare of vetch in average rainfall years, with minimal impact on grain yield. The inter-row sowing of vetch allowed similar levels of vetch production, but led to grain yield reductions of 16-37%, while inter-row sown crops of lucerne led to grain yield reductions of at least 70-80%. As such, the broadcasting of vetch into maturing winter cereal crops appeared the best intercropping method.

Sole crops of vetch and lucerne produced dry matter yields of 8 and 14 tonnes per hectare, respectively. Over the course of the project zero-till equipment was brought into Tibet for the first time, and preliminary experiments suggest that double crops of vetch, sown using zero-till seeders in the Lhasa district, may also be a viable strategy for fodder production on many farms - yielding, for little extra work, around 5 tonnes per hectare of vetch hay.

At the conclusion of the project in 2007 the project team was able to recommend a number of best-bet strategies for producing fodder in three different agro-climatic areas within Tibet’s central cropping zone, and these methods are now ready for testing on farms.

Finally, excellent progress was made throughout the project in the area of capacity building, leading to the establishment at TARI of a strong research facility with the capacity to conduct agronomic research to drive agricultural development in Tibet well into the future.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2004 - 31 Dec 2007

Partners

Tibet Agricultural Research Institute - China
University of Adelaide - Australia

Leaders

Professor David Coventry

Email

david.coventry@adelaide.edu.au

Phone

08 8303 7954

Website
Launch Website

Oilseed Brassica improvement in China, India and Australia

Overview of Project

Oilseed brassicas are an extremely important crop in China and India. More than 6 million hectares are planted to B. napus (rapeseed) in China and B. juncea (Indian mustard) in India. Achieving canola quality oils (low in erucic acid and glucosinolates) is an aim for both countries. Germplasm with improved traits for both B napus and B juncea will be tested to improve canola quality oilseed production in China, India and Australia.

Brassica production in all three countries is limited by a number of key diseases and environmental stresses. Sclerotinia and white rust resistant traits are needed to reduce the losses these diseases cause. Agronomic traits such as drought tolerance and quality will also boost yields and oil quality. Molecular genetic and quality analysis can be used to determine key traits including quality, disease resistance and drought tolerance. The aims of the project are:

  • identifying and developing effective screening/evaluation protocols for each key trait,
  • identifying appropriate variability for key traits through use of screening protocols,
  • enhancing germplasm in all countries for key traits through selection and breeding, identifying heritability of key traits, genetic distance and heterotic pools (agronomic analysis, molecular analysis) by undertaking genetic variability/distance studies on germplasm from all countries, and;
  • developing and providing appropriate information on improved germplasm and disease epidemiology for incorporation into existing technology transfer protocols.
Project Dates

01 Jan 2004 - 31 Dec 2010

Partners

Department of Primary Industries - Victoria - Australia
South Australian Research and Development Institute - Australia
National Research Centre on Rapeseed-Mustard - India
Industry & Investment NSW - Australia
Oil Crops Research Institute - China
University of Western Australia - Australia
Punjab Agricultural University - India
Tata Energy Research Institute - India
Indian Council of Agricultural Research - India
Huazhong Agricultural University - China
Haryana Agricultural University - India
Department of Agriculture - Western Australia - Australia
Institute of Industrial Crops - China
University of Melbourne - Australia

Leaders

Dr Phil Salisbury

Email

psalisburt@optushome.com.au

Phone

03 8344 7315

Website
Launch Website

Mineral nutrition of livestock in Tibet (I & II)

Overview of Project

Livestock production is the predominant industry in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), with significant numbers of yaks, cattle, horses, sheep and goats raised under various production systems. Little was known about the mineral and trace element status of these animals, although it was suspected that they were at risk from iodine and selenium deficiency. The investigation was intended provide a comprehensive assessment of the mineral and trace element status of livestock and identify any of these nutrients that may limit livestock productivity in TAR. The study involved scientists from the Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences (TAAAS), the Institute of Animal Science, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and Australia.

Key Outcomes of Project

"In general, livestock were in moderate to poor condition and pastures were of poor quality (indicated by low protein content). The team identified that the low levels of some major and trace minerals may limit livestock productivity. In view of the range of mineral deficiencies that may be limiting livestock productivity the team recommended that it would be of value to the livestock industry for Tibetan scientists to undertake a training program in the detection and correction of mineral disorders. Experiments were needed to determine the magnitude of the response to mineral supplementation, measured by increases in milk or wool production or body weight gain, and to determine the most cost-effective method of providing these mineral supplements. "

Project Dates

11 Aug 2003 - 30 Jun 2005

Partners

Tibet Academy of Agricultural and Animal Sciences
China

Leaders

Dr Geoff Judson

Email

judson@adam.com.au

Phone

08 8271 6542

Website
Launch Website

Host resistance, epidemiology and integrated management of faba bean, chickpea and lentil diseases

Overview of Project

Historically China has placed major emphasis on improving cereal production, and development of food legumes has been largely ignored. There is a need to invest in food legume research, and this project was designed to increase the adoption and lift the productivity of faba beans and field peas in rain-fed areas of central western and northern China, also the grains regions of Australia, by facilitating the development of varieties with superior qualities in terms of disease resistance and yield.

The priorities for this project - germplasm collection, disease surveys, germplasm evaluation, accelerated breeding of peas and faba beans and molecular analyses of diversity - were initially developed by delegates from collaborating institutions in a planning workshop held in Lanzhou, Gansu province during June 2001. In subsequent discussions it was proposed to involve the provinces of Yunnan, Qinghai and the northern region of Hebei.

The major purpose of the project was to strengthen the capacity of breeding programs to develop new varieties with improved productivity, desired grain quality, disease resistance and greater tolerance of frost stresses, and which will be more widely adopted by farmers.

Overview Objectives

  1. to collect and exchange pea and faba bean germplasm between Chinese and Australian collaborators
  2. to improve pea and faba bean breeding programs in China
  3. to undertake molecular characterisation of diversity in pea core collections from China and Australia, and diversity analyses of breeding programs in China
  4. to train Chinese staff through opportunities in both Australia and China
  5. to produce a handbook for pea diseases in China to assist extension.
Key Outcomes of Project

Major findings for faba bean were: Bean Yellow Mosaic Virus (BYMV) is the major virus in faba bean (60% occurrence in Yunnan, 21% in Qinghai). Other important faba bean diseases were rust and chocolate spot in Yunnan, cercospora and Fusarium root rot in Qinghai and Rhizoctonia in Bashang. Major findings for pea were: 60% of pea crops in Qinghai had Bean Western Yellows Virus (BWYV), and in Bashang 60% of pea crops had Pea Seedborne Mosaic Virus (PSbMV). On pea, Fusarium root rot was important in Yunnan and Qinghai and powdery mildew in Bashang.

Priorities for breeding disease resistance were identified for peas as powdery mildew in all provinces and rust resistance in Yunnan. Disease breeding priorities were only identified for faba bean in Yunnan - for rust, chocolate spot and BYMV. Diseases occurred too late in Qinghai and Zhangbei on both crops to warrant inclusion in plant breeding programs.

The genetic characterisation of 2120 lines of pea germplasm was undertaken at ICGR in 2005-06. Landraces from China had more diverse clusters than from the rest of the world, with one cluster of spring types from north central China, and another of both winter and spring types from western, eastern and southern provinces. For faba bean, AFLP diversity analyses were made on 473 landraces from the CAAS collection of Chinese germplasm and accessions from the rest of the world. Faba bean landraces from China tended to cluster separately from the rest of the world though with a partial overlap.

Each country can benefit from widening of its breeding gene pools to exploit the exchanged genetic resources. Peas from China appear to have previously unrecognised molecular and morphological diversity which is unique to China. Germplasm has been exchanged between CAAS and ATFCC, and this provides excellent plant breeding opportunities to both China and Australia to exploit the other’s genetic resources from the respective alternate gene pools.

For both peas and faba bean this brings opportunities to utilise new genes and alleles for responding to abiotic/biotic stresses, as well as providing new quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for growth traits associated with expression of grain yield. The findings also raise interesting questions on the evolution of peas in China, for future investigation.

Training and extension were important aspects of the project. One thousand handbooks with photos, descriptions and control measures for 115 biotic/abiotic stresses of pea and faba bean were produced (in Chinese only) in 2006-07."

Project Dates

01 Jul 2003 - 30 Jun 2007

Partners

Department of Primary Industries - Victoria - Australia
NSW Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Qinghai Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Science - China
University of Melbourne - Australia
University of Adelaide - Australia
Hebei Institute of Cool Season Crops - China
Institute for Crop Germplasm Resources - China
Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Robert Redden

Email

bob.redden@dpi.vic.gov.au

Website
Launch Website

Improving the implementation of integrated crop management in Brassica vegetables through a decision support toolkit based on end-user needs in China and Australia

Overview of Project

This project wasd commissioned by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Australia.

The project was aimed at identifying key constraints ICM implementation amongst decision-makers, and clarify where information can address these constraints (in both China and Australia). With the end goal being formulating Research and extension activities which build on the principles of good integrated pest management (IPM) . To further the brassica industry (in Australia and China) use of biological and cultural pest management integrated with chemical control. The reduction in synthetic pesticide use has meant that alternative pest management practices are feasible, as natural enemies of the brassica pests are able to survive in the crop environment. At the time of the project Brassica vegetables accounted for 50 per cent of total vegetable production and consumption in China.

This project sought to convince farmers of the merits of adopting the more sustainable practices of ICM, and using them well."

Key Outcomes of Project

The key outputs of the project were toolkit prototypes in Mandarin and English, designed to meet the respective information needs of the Chinese and Australian brassica industry members in addressing integrated crop management constraints. In China, the toolkit consists of CD based decision-support tools and training multimedia system plus a paper-based field guide to integrated management of vegetable brassicas. One thousand copies of the field guide were distributed to farmers from the 10 major vegetable production areas in Zhejiang. In each locality, 60-70 farmers attended a half day training activity. A further 200 copies were sent to extension officers in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, Fujian, Yunnan, Guangdong, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan and Chongqing, and to the National Extension and Service Centre in Beijing. In Australia, the English toolkit prototype is presented on a CD which contains tools to correctly diagnose and evaluate problems in brassica vegetable crops. Practical implications of the project were highlighted from the needs analyses

Project Dates

01 Jul 2003 - 31 Dec 2005

Partners

University of Queensland - Centre for Biological Information Technology - Australia
Zhejiang University - Department of Plant Protection - China
Zhejiang Department of Agriculture - Zhejiang General Plant Protection Station - China

Leaders

Ms Bronwyn Walsh

Email

Bronwyn.Walsh@dpi.qld.gov.au

Phone

(07) 5466 2222

Website
Launch Website

Analysis of agribusiness and policy developments in China’s sheep meat industry of relevance to the Australian industry

Overview of Project
  • Build knowledge on China’s sheep meat industry, including statistical issues, agribusiness developments and policy developments.
  • Draw conclusions on the nature and drivers of change of change in China’s sheep meat industry.
  • Clarify the challenges and opportunities posed for Australian industry concerns
Key Outcomes of Project

Waldron, S.A., Brown, C.G. and Zhang, C. (2004) Analysis of Agribusiness and Policy Developments in China's Sheep meat Industry of Relevance to the Australian Industry. MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia), Brisbane, July.

Waldron, S.A., Brown, C.G., Longworth, J.L. and Zhang, C.G. (2007), China’s Livestock Revolution: agribusiness and policy developments in China’s sheep meat sector, CAB International, Wallingford.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2003 - 01 Jan 2004

Partners

Professor Zhang Cungen
Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Website
Launch Website

Regional impacts of re-vegetation on water resources of the Loess Plateau, China, and the Middle and Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment, Australia

Overview of Project

Western China’s Loess Plateau is a unique combination of soil type, slope and rainfall intensity. Much of the land is too steep for farming. Average farm sizes are small, often as little as 1.5 hectares. The most far-reaching problem for these farmers is soil erosion. Traditional tillage practices have served to further, rather than limit, erosion. Low levels of perennial vegetation and intense monsoonal summer rains, which dump more than half of the annual fall, also exacerbate the problems. Hydrology and erosion interactions are also elements found in the Murrumbidgee catchment in Australia. The project is working to optimise the impact of large-scale revegetation on the water resources of the Coarse Sandy Hilly Region of the Loess Plateau of western China, and in the Middle and Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment of southeast Australia by developing software tools to predict the impact of revegetation strategies on the two regions.

Key Outcomes of Project

The key output from our successful project has been the development of a bilingual computer based simulation tool called ReVegIH (Re-Vegetation Impacts on Hydrology) that allows managers of terrestrial land use (forestry and agricultural) to understand the regional impacts of current and proposed plans to re-vegetate large areas of the Loess Plateau. While re-vegetation activities will assist controlling soil erosion, in the water limited Yellow River basin, off-sites impacts of reducing water yields need to be acknowledged and planned for. Additionally, to promote use of the tool by the land use managers, ReVegIH provides suitability assessments of 38 perennial tree and shrub species, and identifies priority and target areas where re-vegetation activities should occur.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2003 - 31 Dec 2005

Partners

Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources - Institute of Soil and Water Conservation - China

Leaders

Dr Tim McVicar

Email

tim.mcvicar@csiro.au

Phone

02 6246 5741

Website
Launch Website

Use and improvement of sugarcane germplasm

Overview of Project

This project aimed to provide more productive sugarcane varieties to growers and sugar industries in China and Australia by assessing genetic diversity in sugarcane germplasm collections and using wild germplasm to develop improved sugarcane clones.

Sugarcane is currently the second most important crop in southern China and its relative importance is expected to rise in the future. Sugarcane industries continue to rely heavily on development of new and more productive varieties to maintain industry viability in increasingly competitive world markets. They have invested heavily in breeding programs in the past to maintain a steady flow of more productive varieties. However, only a limited number of original progenitor clones feature in development of modern sugarcane cultivars.

Therefore, sugarcane breeders worldwide have considered it important to expand the genetic base in sugarcane. Germplasm related to sugarcane grows wild in China. During the 1980s and 1990s the Chinese government devoted significant effort to collecting this germplasm, and the Yunnan Sugar Research Institute (YSRI) now maintains much of it at the National Nursery for Sugarcane Germplasm Resources. Both Chinese and Australian sugarcane breeders have an interest in using this germplasm for sugarcane improvement.

This small sample of genetic diversity in breeding programs, combined with the knowledge that there are many desirable traits in exotic sugarcane-related germplasm, has led to strong interest in introgression of new sources of germplasm in breeding programs in Australia and China."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project was largely successful in achieving its objectives. Studies indicated a high level of genetic diversity in both Saccharum spontaneum and Erianthus arundinaceus in China, providing a basis for targeted sampling and use of this material in future breeding efforts.

Scientists obtained viable seeds from 202 crosses involving a range of S. spontaneum and E. arundinaceus clones. Using DNA markers they have to date verified 100 of these crosses as producing true hybrids. This result was significant for Erianthus sp. - this is the first report of verified fertile hybrids between Saccharum x Erianthus despite many past attempts.
Several case study populations derived from S. spontaneum and Erianthus were used to establish Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) - a form of genetic mapping - and several important loci for cane yield were identified from S. spontaneum, providing a basis for application of DNA markers in future introgression breeding of new traits into sugarcane.
 
The scientists observed good genetic correlations in performance of families and clones between trials in China and Australia, suggesting mutual benefits from ongoing collaboration between the two countries via exchange of selection trial results and selected germplasm.
 
The project team recommended ways to develop commercial outcomes from the outputs of the project to date. The genetic material generated has been incorporated into sugarcane breeding programs in China and Australia. This material is a source of new parental material for these programs and may have particular value in likely future production systems, which obtain value from both sugar and fibre (for energy) components."
Project Dates

01 Jul 2002 - 31 Dec 2007

Partners

Yunnan Sugar Research Institute - China
Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations Limited - Australia
Guangzhou Sugarcane Industry Research Institute - China
CSR - Australia
CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia

Leaders

Dr Phillip Jackson

Email

Phillip.Jackson@csiro.au

Phone

07 4753 8592

Website
Launch Website

Ruminant production in the red soils region of southern China and in northern Australia

Overview of Project

The project was commissioned by CSIRO Livestock Industries, Australia and was aimed at developing economically viable pasture-based beef production systems in the degraded red and yellow soils regions of southern China, in order to meet the rapidly expanding domestic beef market in China and to reduce erosion. The project focused on strategies for using forages, crop residues and by-products. Computer software packages to predict animal performance in China and tropical Australia were developed through the project.

Key Outcomes of Project

The red soils region of central southern China covers an area the size of Western Australia (2.6 million km2) to the south of the Yangtze River. The region is characterised by high and soil erosive rainfall in spring, high evaporation rates in summer and cold winters. Almost half of this area has become seriously eroded as a result of excessive deforestation. There is increasing pressure to develop these soils for agricultural production, due to population pressure and economic growth.Three previous ACIAR projects have delivered technologies the project was designed to demonstrate the extent to which pasture forages help control erosion. The challenge for this project was converting these adapted forages into economic benefits for farmers. this was done by developing a forage-based ruminant production system that integrated with the other activities of smallholder farmers and producing usable materials like information CD-ROMs and negotiating updates to decision making software (CamBeef, GrazFeed) t

In China the team gathered and collated data about reproductive efficiency, growth rates, mortality, herd structure, age and weight at sale from around 240 households in three counties in Jiangxi and 300 in three counties in Hunan. These data became the benchmarks for later assessment of productivity gains.

The team also completed an inventory of available feed resources, identifying suitable local feedstuffs and by-products. Crop residue feed resources included straws from rice, peanut, sweet potato, and soybean, together with corn stalks. Crop by-products (energy/ protein rich meals) available in Jiangxi include rice bran and cottonseed meal while only rice bran was readily available in Hunan.

A list of recommended perennial summer growing grass species was drawn up for commercial use by smallholder farmers. Research showed that these species are advantageous due to their superior dry matter production in this environment, over-wintering capabilities and a growth habit more suitable for harvesting in a cut-and-carry system. Annual grass species were successfully integrated into rice-growing with beef production where fresh forages were used as the feed resource.Fourteen cattle growth experiments were completed during the project. Based on the results from these studies, the team developed and validated technologies for year-round feeding of beef cattle.

The team in Australia studied molasses supplementation, determining the relationship between amount of supplement and frequency of molasses ingestion on intake of forage and the substitution effect. More is now known about rumen function and rumen dynamics with differing amounts of supplement and the consequences for forage intake, also the effect of high molasses intake on drinking water intake and fluid kinetics. Other areas of better understanding include digestion of dietary components, the effect of molasses inclusion rate on forage (fibre) digestion, level of supplementation, interaction with forage quality and liveweight gain. In the study of grazing cattle, researchers determined how level of supplementation affected grazing behaviour, spatial distribution of cattle within paddocks, and liveweight gain. "

Project Dates

01 Jul 2001 - 30 Jun 2004

Partners

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems - Australia
Jiangxi Agricultural University - China
Department of Rural and Social Development - Jiangxi - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Bob Hunter

Website
Launch Website

Growing more rice with less water: Increasing water productivity in rice-based cropping systems

Overview of Project

Rice is a vital food staple in China with a large part of the population dependant on rice production. Most of this rice is produced using irrigation and using valuable water resources. Water useage in China is rising, prompting China to promote water-saving irrigation (WSI) techniques. This project was aimed to address these issues by linking Chinese and Australian laboratories to promote water management techniques in rice-based irrigation systems that reduce water consumption and do not decrease crop production. In particular this project aimed to further investigate the technique of alternate wetting and drying, and to compare it to the techniques of saturated soil culture and aerobic rice in China.

Key Outcomes of Project

Water saving irrigation using alternative wetting and drying is a viable option for farmers in the Zhanghe Irrigation System (ZIS). Studies confirmed that alternate wetting and drying can be practiced without yield losses, while saving significant irrigation water. Farm surveys revealed that at the farm level the maintenance of yields does not affect profitability. The key finding was that farmers will practice water saving only by default. At the catchment level the artificial creation of water scarcity will prompt farmers to adopt water saving irrigation without reducing yields or profits, providing farmers know how to implement such techniques.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2001 - 30 Jun 2005

Partners

CSIRO Land and Water - Australia
Wuhan University of Hydraulic and Electric Engineering - China
International Water Management Institute - Sri Lanka
International Rice Research Institute - Philippines

Leaders

Randolph Barker

Email

brandy84332@yahoo.com

Website
Launch Website

Lucerne (Alfalfa) adapted to adverse environments in China and Australia

Overview of Project

The project was a joint collaboration wiht Australia, China and Laos primarily aimed to produce lucerne varieties that are adapteable to environmental stresses relevant to China and Australia through the development of germplasm and novel screening techniques. Sustainable agricultural production is vital for A China. As the country develops, demand for animal products is increasing. However, the country faces a severe shortage of forage, as well as many environmental problems such as increasing soil salinity, acidity and erosion. The vast grassland areas are not very productive, partly due to inappropriate management but also because of unimproved pasture plants and deforestation. Australia also has related problems of salinity and waterlogging caused by a lack of deep-rooted perennials plants to keep watertables low. Part of the solution to these problems may come from lucerne, which is a nutritious, productive perennial forage legume, with the potential to improve animal production and soil stability, and lower watertables

Key Outcomes of Project

The project aimed toto produce lucerne varieties that are adapted to environmental stresses relevant to China and Australia through the Acquisition and field testing of Germplasm and the Developing of novel screening techniques along with the training of Chinese researchers and publishing lucerne improvement findings and extension courses.

Project Dates

01 Jan 2001 - 31 Dec 2004

Partners

Department of Agriculture - Western Australia - Australia
University of Tasmania - Australia
Gansu Agricultural University - China
Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Beijing Forestry University - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Gansu Grasslands Ecological Research Institute - China

Leaders

Dr Geoff Auricht

Email

auricht.geoff@saugov.sa.gov.au

Phone

08 8303 9498

Website
Launch Website

Potential Benefits of Establishing a Neem Industry in China

Overview of Project

This project aims to evaluate the important factors affecting the establishment of a neem industry in China and to develop a blueprint for a neem industry that could be adopted by the central and local governments. The potential benefits of neem trees as a source of pesticides, for environmental protection, and to provide income for populations in rural and remote areas will be studied. The establishment of neem plantations and processing of neem products in China will also be analyzed.

Key Outcomes of Project

Xin Tinghui, “ Harness Soil Erosion and Develop biopesticides: a survey report on plantation and development of neem ”. SAFEA, Beijing ( in Chinese ) Malcolm Wegener, “ Economics of Bio-Pesticides production: Report on Potential Neem Production Areas in Hainan, Guangdong and Yunnan, China ( 10 – 31 May 2000 ) The University of Queensland, 44pp.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2000 - 01 Jun 2003

Partners

The University of Queensland

Development of technologies to alleviate soil acidification in legume-based production systems in the tropics of Asia and Australia

Overview of Project

This project sought to develop production systems that minimise soil acidification and its negative effects, through research undertaken in laboratory and field-based trials in China, Thailand and Australia.

Legumes are widely used in farming systems to improve soil fertility and organic matter accretion through their nitrogen fixation, and to provide protein for human and animal consumption. Some legumes are crops (for example, soybean and peanut) while others are pasture plants (such as Stylosanthes) or trees (such as Leucaena). Stylosanthes, or stylo, has proved to be an ideal, cheap method of improving the quality of native pastures in Asia, Africa, South America and northern Australia. It adapts well to low-fertility soils and tolerates a range of climate types. The importance of introduced legumes such as these for increasing the productivity of tropical agricultural systems has long been recognised. However, it is now clear that legumes make the soil more acid.

Recent research has shown that acidification has occurred in pastures in Australia’s semi-arid tropics following the introduction of Stylosanthes. This is also occurring in northeast Thailand, southern China and southern India, at similar rates to those measured in northern Australia. Acidification of soils makes nutrients less available to plant roots, by altering the balance of ions.

The soils that have shown the greatest degree of acidification are light-textured, and are characterised by their poor fertility, and inherently small ability to buffer pH changes. Such soils are becoming increasingly important agriculturally (and hence economically). If soil organic matter increased this would provide greater buffering capacity. Acidity can also be remedied by applying a base, but given the large areas and depth to which the acidity occurs, this would be impractical."

Key Outcomes of Project

Soil acidification can reduce productivity by restricting root growth through toxicities of aluminium and manganese or calcium deficiency. Soil fertility decline is a consequence of soil organic carbon decline, and nutrient removal in harvested product not being matched by nutrient inputs. Net acid addition rates were measured for several key production systems in Australia and SE Asia, using a paired site (degraded versus undegraded) approach. Lime equivalents of removed product ranged from 50 kg/ha/year for paddy rice in Thailand to 2850 kg/ha/year for leucaena in China. This indicates the wide range in potential soil acidification arising from different agricultural production systems.

Several strategies to minimise or ameliorate soil acidification were studied in this project. It was shown that the use of nitrate-based rather than ammonium-based nitrogen fertilisers could ameliorate soil acidification to a depth of a least 120 cm in sandy soils in northern Australia and north-east Thailand. This finding is particularly significant because neutralisation to depth is rarely possible with conventional approaches using lime.

In legume plus grass pasture production systems in China, the use of fire in combination with over-sowing of grass and input of nitrogen was shown to successfully reduce stylo dominance compared to other management systems. Reduction of legume dominance should reduce the rate of soil acidification. A spin-off from studying the legume production system has been the incorporation of legume intercropping into plantation systems, giving the benefits of nitrogen input and erosion control. This system is being regularly monitored to ensure that soil acidification does not become an issue.

The soils of the project focus areas, in Hainan China, NE Thailand and northern Australia, were predominantly sandy. Sustainable production on such soils is dependent on increasing their cation exchange capacity. The researchers found that applications of materials such as bentonite clay can help restore fertility to degraded, sandy soils. Field experiments in NE Thailand and northern Australia demonstrated yield responses of forage sorghum, gamba grass and sugarcane to applications of calcium-rich natural bentonites. This was due to the improved nutrient-holding capacity and/or water-holding capacity of the amended soils. An adaptation of the technology is to use clay minerals in the composting process to reduce loss of nitrogen by ammonium volatilisation. Clay technology is seen as a way to ‘kick-start’ the remediation process for a degraded system, enabling intensive agriculture on sandy soils.

Assessing the risk of soil acidification is a prerequisite for identifying soil/land use prone to this degradation process. The development of pedo-transfer functions for estimating soil pH buffer capacity from simple routine soil analyses enabled ranking of soil types according to their susceptibility to rapid acidification. This information has been linked with spatial soil survey data to produce soil acidification risk maps for NE Thailand. These maps have provided input into regional land use and environmental planning at provincial level through collaboration with the Land Development Department and provincial staff.

A similar approach is to be applied in Hainan, allowing the identification of priority ‘hot spots’ for concentrating research and extension efforts. Because the complexity of the local farming systems makes predication of soil acidification based on crop parameters (carbon/nitrogen cycles) very difficult, risk assessment will be enhanced through the use of a simple field tool kit for measuring soil pH and pH buffer capacity. This kit will also be used to demonstrate concepts of soil acidity to farmers."

Project Dates

01 Jul 2000 - 30 Jun 2005

Partners

Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines - Australia
Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Science - China
Khon Kaen University - Thailand

Leaders

Ms Suzanne Berthelsen

Email

suzanne.berthelsen@jcu.edu.au

Phone

0407 252 815

Website
Launch Website

Use of entomopathogenic nematodes in China to control chive midges

Overview of Project

Pests such as rice stem borers (Scirpophaga spp. and Chilo spp.) and chive midges (Bradysia spp.) threaten important crops in China. This project aims to use nematodes to control rice stem borers and chive midges as a commercial alternative to chemical insecticides.

Key Outcomes of Project

The research will build on work where nematodes were successfully used to control apple moths and street tree borers in northern China. The scientists will select strains of the nematode, Steinernema feltiae and search for other species that are capable of attacking these pests. They will then conduct field trials on rice and chives in China and Australia.

Project Dates

01 Jul 2000 - 30 Jun 2001

Partners

CSIRO Entomology - AustraliaChinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - Biological Control Institute - China
Zhongshan University - State Key Lab for Biocontrol and Institute of Entomolgy - China

Leaders

Dr Robin Bedding

Email

robinb@ento.csiro.au

Phone

02 6 246 4292

Website
Launch Website

Chinese grain market policy with special emphasis on the domestic grain trade

Overview of Project

Project Background and Objectives

The project focused on understanding the political economy of the Chinese domestic grain marketing system (mainly rice, wheat and maize). The system was characterised by a lack of competition, costly inefficiencies, and cycles of reform. It was a complicated marketing system with extensive government control over pricing, transportation and storage.

Despite various recent reforms, the State continued to play a large part in managing the domestic marketing system. It set floor prices, bought and resold grain, stored and distributed it through its own agencies, and excluded private traders from dealing directly with farmers.

Various analyses suggested that these arrangements were unsustainable, particularly as there was a considerable financial burden on the State. Often the government policy objectives conflicted and therefore had unintended consequences. As China had started to rely more on market forces in grain distribution, the policies tended to exacerbate the fluctuation in prices and that, in turn, exaggerated concerns by farmers about prices and by others about the security of supply.

Responsibility for implementing policies designed in Beijing rested with provincial governments, a practice that seemed to raise significant barriers to trade in grain within China. This project addressed some of these problems, measuring the extent of inter-regional grain transfers and examining how effectively policies met the goals of income growth and security for farmers while maintaining the security of supply for consumers (mainly urban-dwellers).

Key Outcomes of Project

The project estimated yields of food and grain crops by regions and identified major grain surplus and deficit provinces. It also estimated the detailed volume and direction of domestic trade in major grains for six provinces. Researchers found that regional grain flows were expanding, leading to significant changes in domestic inter-regional grain trade patterns.

The team collected regional wholesale and retail price data, regional quota negotiated and market price data for the major grains and food products. Researchers measured the degree of market integration to estimate the impact of domestic trade barriers. Their estimates of various indices applicable to China helped rate competitiveness of main grains in major agricultural regions.

They described the political economy reasons for the development of China’s grain marketing system since the 1978 reforms. After determining the preconditions needed to successfully implement the 1998 grain policy objectives they concluded that the policy package was bound to fail. They identified signals and key components that would push the market-oriented grain marketing reform started in 2000 and reached the conclusion that policy retrenchment was less likely when the next supply-constrained cycle arose.

The researchers found that government control over the domestic grain market and control over international trade had destabilised prices in the market and resulted in excessive surpluses. Reforms were erratic, and the considerable uncertainty this generated for consumers and farmers was reflected in their responses to grain marketing policy changes.

In 1999-2000 the team surveyed 1000 households in five provinces and 20 counties, and data now exist for the period 1993-5 to 1999-2000 (5 years in total) for four of the five provinces. This provided a micro basis to support an aggregate analysis of grain flows among regions.

The outputs from the project should help Australians better understand the long- and short-run implications of China’s accession to WTO as well as China’s inter-regional grain trade volumes and regional comparative advantage in various crops. This will help to identify opportunities for Australian agriculture in terms of future trade relations with China.

Project results have had a positive role in promoting a new round of grain marketing reform in China. At the final review of the project the Chinese project leader commented that results have been used in decision-making of China’s high administration - for example Jianxu Province was advised not to buy soft red wheat at the protected price, and it complied. Henan Province undertook an analysis of grain grades being supported under the grain policy, and implemented the recommendation that grades of less than 3 be excluded from the protected price scheme. The Vice Premier of Henan also accepted the analysts’ advice to increase the price of hard wheat.

Nanjing University used the methodology and analytic framework developed in the project. Policy advice on regional comparative advantage in agriculture provided to the provincial government was well accepted."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Apr 2003

Partners

University of Adelaide - Australia
Ministry of Agriculture - Department of Policy - Reform and Law - China

Leaders

Professor Christopher Findlay

Email

christopher.findlay@adelaide.edu.au

Phone

+61 8 8303 3986

Website
Launch Website

Population models and immunocontraceptive vaccines for managing outbreaking rodent species

Overview of Project

Plagues of mice in Australia and Brandt’s vole in China erupt periodically, causing significant damage. In grassland ecosystems these plagues can exacerbate damage and deterioration caused by grazing livestock. By utilising expertise in ecology, reproductive biology and molecular biology of rodents the project scientists undertook population studies of both rodents and assessed the feasibility of fertility controls for their management in grassland and cereal production systems. They also determined the potential to use an immunocontraceptive vaccine for Brandt’s vole.

The project aimed to predict the occurrence of high densities of Brandt’s vole in Inner Mongolia and the house mouse in southeastern Australia, also to assess the feasibility of fertility control for the management of rodents in grassland and cropland. This involved studies to understand more about the female reproductive biology of both species and to initiate the development of an immunocontraceptive vaccine for Brandt’s vole."

Key Outcomes of Project

Progress in the work on population modelling and predictions was highly satisfactory. For the Chinese the results highlighted the need to pursue integrated management of livestock and rodents. As well, computer simulations predicted that fertility control could be as effective (and in some cases more effective) in managing Brandt’s vole than lethal control with rodenticides.

In Australia the project resulted in important advances in understanding the changes in demographic parameters that lead to the development and eventual collapse of mouse plagues. However there is still much to learn about the ecological processes involved. The availability of substantial sets of earlier demographic data from both China and Australia greatly assisted the execution of this aspect of the project.

Assessment of the feasibility of fertility control of Brandt’s vole was also successful, with one vole reproductive antigen showing capacity to induce infertility in captive female voles. Trials to assess potential antigens were hampered by the seasonal breeding pattern of the vole, but the results indicated that further studies to develop better management strategies and tools for rodent control are warranted both in the field and the laboratory."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 31 Mar 2002

Partners

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems - Australia
Chinese Academy of Science - Institute of Zoology - China

Leaders

Dr Lyn Hinds

Email

l.hinds@cse.csiro.au

Phone

6242 1729

Website
Launch Website

Wheat improvement in Sichuan Province: application of modern breeding technologies

Overview of Project

Wheat is the second most important crop (after rice) in China’s Sichuan Province. About 2.3 million ha are planted each year, which yields about 7.85 million tonnes of grain that is used mainly for making noodles and bread. However, the quantity did not meet the needs of the current population of 89 million people and the Government was anxious to improve grain output. It was important that the province improve the efficiency of its wheat breeding efforts. The quality of the grain was also often inadequate for the products it was needed for. Yellow alkaline noodles, a popular food in Japan, China and elsewhere, look unattractive when made with wheat of the incorrect quality. There was an opportunity to improve relevant attributes through genetic manipulation.

Climatic conditions played a part in limiting the yield (inappropriate rain and periods of cold and low light intensity), but there were other factors. These included disease (principally the fungal disease stripe rust), also the problem of the premature germination of the wheat grains while still on the stalk, which is faced in Australia as well as Sichuan. Known as sprouting, it is promoted by rainfall coming just before the harvest. Certain wheat varieties - white-grained ones - are inherently more susceptible to this problem. Sprouting resistance exists in some varieties but it proved difficult to select for in a breeding program because there were no easy markers for it.

Another problem was the intermittent sterility occurring in some wheat types in Sichuan. This could be related to low light intensity because of a naturally cloudy climate, and to cold periods, but resistance genes for this exist.

Key Outcomes of Project

Analysis of three years of yield trial data for 14 Australian, Chinese and CIMMYT wheat lines grown across 10 sites in Sichuan, together with analysis of 10 years of Sichuan Provincial Trial data has yielded important information concerning the range of wheat-growing environments in the Province and the number of trials and trial sites required to assess varieties. This information will inform long-term breeding strategies and wheat variety deployment across Sichuan.

Investigations into quality characteristics for high-quality fresh white noodles, including both Australian and Sichuan wheats, have provided very useful information concerning relative performance of these lines and which attributes in the Chinese and Australian materials might be suitable for crossing into the relevant adapted germplasm for each country. Taste panel evaluations have indicated that genes controlling grain hardness are linked to noodle texture, while colour preference tests indicate that the market has a preference for a creamy white noodle appearance, whose quantitative parameters using a Minolta colour meter can be used as a selection tool by breeders. Chinese lines with resistance to grain blackpoint have been identified and are being evaluated in Australia, while testing to eliminate lines with high levels of late maturity a-amylase has now been adopted in Sichuan.

Stripe rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis, is currently a major foliar disease of wheat throughout China. The introduction of near-isogenic lines (NILs) and trials conducted in Sichuan by Prof Bob McIntosh during this project indicate that major single genes for resistance are very vulnerable to breakdown in the Sichuan environment. Multiple minor effect genes that give adult plant resistance in the field are much more likely to result in durable resistance and this approach is now being adopted by some Sichuan wheat breeders with the hope that future new varieties will show effective and durable resistance in the Sichuan environment indefinitely. A young Chinese plant pathologist has received training in the assessment of disease severity in the field, conducted in Australia and Sichuan.

Germination of grains in the head following rain at harvest time is a major cause of economic losses in both countries. Markers for major genes conditioning embryo dormancy in Chinese and Australian lines have been identified and published. These markers will assist the selection of lines with resistance to preharvest sprouting. Chromosomal regions conditioning the expression of low polyphenol oxidase activity, a desirable characteristic for noodle colour stability, have been identified and a simple biochemical test is now in use in Chengdu to determine breeding lines carrying this trait.

During the project, trials were conducted to determine the factors which lead to intermittent reproductive sterility in some wheats in Sichuan. Results indicate that lower temperature at flowering was the major factor in the overcast spring conditions of Sichuan, and some locally-derived varieties had much better tolerance to the lower temperatures than materials developed elsewhere. This information is now being widely used for parental selection in breeding programs in Sichuan. Genetic analyses suggest that the very high fertility of the local variety Chuanyu 12 is controlled by two complementary dominant genes. Work to locate molecular markers for gene(s) for intermittent reproductive sterility, using the technologies transferred during the project, are currently under way in Chengdu.

Chinese participants have received training in the application of recently developed breeding technologies, equipping them to produce improved wheat varieties suitable for a range of growing environments and to a plurality of market demands. Chinese colleagues can now state-of-the-art approaches to breeding wheat cultivars with high yielding potential and improved quality in Sichuan growing conditions

Trainees have gained experience in determining flour and noodle sheet colour and measuring dough characteristics on a farinograph. They have also learned techniques for small-scale noodle production, conducting taste panel analysis and measuring embryo dormancy, polyphenol oxidase levels and late maturity a-amylase."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Apr 2006

Partners

University of Southern Queensland - Australia
University of Queensland - Australia
University of Sydney - Australia
Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Science - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries - Australia

Leaders

Associate Professor Mark Sutherland

Email

marksuth@usq.edu.au

Phone

07 4631 2360

Website
Launch Website

Improvement of IPM of Brassica vegetable crops in China and Australia

Overview of Project

The project aimed to develop and implement sustainable management strategies that would effectively control insect pests in brassica vegetables and be acceptable to growers, thus reducing pesticide hazards.

Brassica crops account for about half the total vegetable production and consumption in the Changjiang River Valley in China. In Australia, the brassica industry is centred in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley and Eastern Darling Downs. Growers in both countries face similar problems from insect pests, particularly the diamondback moth (DBM).

In China the control of pest insects has relied heavily on chemical insecticides, which are often overused or misused. Problems encountered include pest resistance, expense, increases in insecticide residues in the harvested vegetables, and hazards to the health of spray operators. The brassica group and its pests presented a good case for the use of integrated pest management (IPM) to reduce the level of insecticide applied to the plants. IPM uses other means - especially beneficial species, such as parasites and predators - along with judicious use of environmentally acceptable pesticides to control pest insects."

Key Outcomes of Project

In both China and Australia the scientists completed investigations of major quantitative factors affecting the numerical changes of pest abundance in brassica crops in the field, and particularly the role that benefical organisms (parsitoid, predators and pathogens) played in suppressing pest populations. In China, 112 species of parasitoids were recorded for four major insect pests - six species recorded as native species for the first time from China. In Australia, two egg parasitoids and one larval pupal parasitoids of DBM were recorded for the first time from this geographic region.

To determine the impact of the main pests on yield and quality loss in major brassica crops and varieties under field conditions the scientists undertook an evaluation of DBM populations in southeast Queensland from 2000 to 2002. They demonstrated that mortality of DBM larvae caused by predators and parasitoids on farms using IPM practices was usually 70-80%, significantly higher than for farms that practised calendar chemical sprays, where the mortality of DBM larvae was usually around 20%.

IPM trials were conducted for four different crops at six sites in east China from 1999 to 2002. Significantly higher numbers of beneficial arthropods and higher rates of parasitism of insect pests were regularly observed in IPM plots than in chemical spray plots. In both Australia and China, the scale of the studies and the consistency of the results across farms, years and different crop production systems provided convincing field evidence that where natural enemies are properly protected and promoted they can dramatically suppress pest populations.

Laboratory bioassays, semi-field tests and field trials were conducted to screen for biological and ‘soft’ insecticides, leading to recommendations of a number of selective insecticides for field use. Strategies to improve insecticide application were tested, focusing on options that promoted ‘soft’ insecticides and reduced total insecticide use.

The IPM trials and field assessments demonstrated that, compared to conventional practice, pest monitoring and use of simple action thresholds helped to reduce the number of sprays and insecticide input substantially and yet achieved similar, or better, control of insect pests at all sites studied.

The scientists established resistance levels to major insecticides used in the brassica production system. They improved their methods for promoting implementation of IPM in brassica vegetable production and applied them widely in the project areas.

There are now a large number of Chinese institutions involved in the implementation of integrated pest management with farmers. The rates of uptake of project outputs by farmers are encouraging. Interest in integrated pest management has grown in the Lockyer Valley in Queensland. Growers interested in IPM have established the Brassica Improvement Group (known as the BIG Boys). A second offshoot has developed of people who are going beyond IPM into full, certified organic culture of broccoli (still using the results of the ACIAR research as the basis of their IPM)."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Jun 2003

Partners

Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Zhejiang Department of Agriculture - China
Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Science - China
Zhejiang University - China
Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Professor Myron Zalucki

Email

M.Zalucki@uq.edu.au

Phone

61 7 33651747

Website
Launch Website

Eucalyptus and groundwater: managing plantations to avoid resource depleation and environmnetla detriment in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Australia - This project looks at the the problems of falling yields, soil erosion and suspected groundwater depletion in eucalypt plantations on Leizhou Peninsula in southern China. The project not only looks at the adverse affects of degredation on Eycalypt growth but also how the plantations appeared to increase soil erosion and deplete the groundwater needed for dry season irrigation of rice and sugar cane

Key Outcomes of Project

Raising awareness with forest managers and researchers, to convince them that appropriate modelling could help allay landholder concerns about adverse effects of plantations on water yields and assist in improving plantation yields. Substantial efforts also went into explaining the project and its potential to improve stand productivity to managers from areas outside the Leizhou study area. Successful parameterization of the process-based 3PG model to predict growth of the eucalypt stands on the Leizhou Peninsula has encouraged acceptance of 3PG and of modelling in general as a tool for forest management - A regional-scale catchment model describing vegetation growth and water use with a resolution of 1 km2 over areas of 1000-10,000 km2 was developed to an advanced stage. Initially the model will incorporate available information on climate, vegetation water use, groundwater recharge and subsurface flows for the Leizhou Peninsula and for one or more Australian catchments.

This work will provide information on how Eucalypt plantations effect groundwater and soil eroison for both Eucalypt growth and irrigation of crop in areads surrounding the plantation.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1999 - 30 Jun 2003

Partners

CSIRO Land and Water - Australia
China Eucalypt Research Centre - China
University of Melbourne - Australia
South China Institute of Botany - China
Research Institute of Tropical Forestry - China

Leaders

Dr Jim Morris

Email

jim.morris@nre.vic.gov.au

Phone

03 9450 8722

Website
Launch Website

Mechanisation of sugarcane production in south Guangdong Province

Overview of Project

The project is investigating the potential to mechanise some or all of the field operations in the production of sugarcane. Sugarcane is an important industrial crop in south China, grown mainly in the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Fujian. State farms are important cane producers. With the introduction of the household responsibility system, individual farm families were allocated land (average area 1.6 hectares) on which to grow cane. Because of the economic problems flowing from low sugar prices resulting in shortages of labour and interest in growing more profitable crops, the managers of some state farm companies believe the solution to their problems lie in mechanisation of canegrowing and harvesting operations. This study is designed to evaluate the economic attractiveness of mechanised cane production in south China.

Key Outcomes of Project

Ou, Y., Wegener, M.K., Yang, D., Chen, L., and Yu, P., 1998. “Experimental investigation on performance of sugarcane machinery in Guang Qian Farm in China”, Paper SEAg 98/088, International Conference on Engineering in Agriculture, Perth, Western Australia, 27-30 September 1998. Wegener, M.K., Ou, Y., Yang D., Chen, L., and Yu, P., “Mechanisation of sugarcane production in China: Experience with sugarcane machinsery on Guang Qian State Farm”, contributed paper, 1999 Annual Conference of Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Christchurch, New Zealand, 19-22 January 1999.

Wegener, M.K., Ou, Y., and …….2001, “Experience with evaluating mechanised sugarcane production in Zhangjiang, China"" paper for ISSCT conference, Brisbane, 2001 (in preparation).

Project Dates

01 Sep 1998 - 01 Dec 2000

Partners

The University of Queensland
South China Agricultural University

High yielding anthracnose-resistant Stylosanthes for agricultural systems in India and China

Overview of Project

Stylosanthes is a fast-growing, tropical leguminous plant with various uses. In China it is mainly used as a green manure for soil enhancements, and in feed meal productions. Its nitrogen-fixing properties also help replenish soil nutrients in ley farming and intercropping systems. It also helps restore marginal lands with infertile acid soils and is important in revegetation programs.

Stylosanthes is also important in Central and South America, Africa and other Asian countries. The beef industry in northern Australia increasingly relies on Stylosanthes as a pasture plant for cattle. However, the major constraint to its use, wherever it is grown, is the fungus diseases anthracnose. The fungus is diverse and quick to adapt, and with growing international travel and trade the risk of even more damaging fungal strains entering Australia, India or China is increasing.

In this project Australia contributed its recognised experience in tropical pasture technology - its Stylosanthes expertise in particular - to help combat the anthracnose disease problem.

The aim of the project was to select strains of Stylosanthes resistant to anthracnose, with the ultimate intention of providing high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of Stylosanthes that perform better on the farms of India, China and northern Australia."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project made excellent progress against all objectives. There was extensive screening of lines from all partners and many showed excellent resistance. The project contributed to the release of two cultivars of Stylosanthes seabrana for Maharashtra in India, two S. guianensis cultivars named Reyan7 and Reyan10 in China, and one S. capitata-S. macrocephala multiline cultivar ‘Estilosantes Campo Grande’ in Brazil. Quantitative traits loci (QTLs) for resistance were mapped and several are available as markers. Studies of anthracnose epidemiology and risk mapping have given, for the first time, a clear understanding of the genetic structure and virulence of the C. gloeosporioides population in all participating countries.

The project established a stylo web site: www.csiro.au/stylointernational. Project experiences and findings are also described in an ACIAR publication entitled ‘High-yielding Anthracnose-resistant Stylosanthes for Agricultural Systems’.

The broad testing of extensive Stylosanthes germplasm in 20 sites across the world, the release of several Brazilian and Chinese cultivars, the knowledge gained on the nature of pathogen populations in India, Brazil and Australia, and the novel information on the anthracnose disease threats to Australia from China and India, are all examples of sound scientific achievements and outputs. It has expanded the scientific base considerably for continued and targeted improvement in anthracnose resistance in Stylosanthes in China, India and Brazil, and this will greatly assist the livestock industries of these countries.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1998 - 31 Dec 2003

Partners

CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia
Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Science - China
Indian Grasslands and Fodder Research Institute - India
International Center for Tropical Agriculture - Colombia

Leaders

Dr Sukumar Chakraborty

Email

Sukumar.Chakraborty@csiro.au

Phone

07 32142677

New technology for productive and sustainable reuse of wastewater for irrigated cropping

Overview of Project

This project explored the potential of water technologies (namely FILTER) and assessed how they dealt with the wide range of wastewater treatment problems faced by managers in China and Australia. Project aims were to develop new and simple procedures for treating wastewater on land so that it could be productively reused. The FILTER technique, developed in Australia, was tested for use in China and further tested in Australia.Reuse of wastewater for irrigation in China could save scarce water supplies and produce the same economic benefits that have come out of many effluent irrigation projects around the world. It would also help deal with the serious environmental problems caused by the dumping of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into watersheds. However, inappropriate treatment and reuse techniques can result in agricultural products being contaminated with pollutants from the wastewater, or cause land degradation in the irrigated area or downstream.

CSIRO developed the FILTER (filtration and irrigated cropping for land treatment and effluent reuse) technique for Australia to overcome some of the problems in land treatment of wastewater. The system was designed to treat primary or secondary sewage and to use the nutrients from it for intensive annual crop-growing.

Key Outcomes of Project

Results of trials at both the Griffith and Wuqing sites showed marked reductions in pollutant loads to acceptable standards; crops removed high levels of nutrients and yielded well. The results confirmed that when the FILTER system is installed at sites featuring soil with a high capacity for phosphorus uptake, with a stable soil structure to maintain hydraulic flows, and appropriate groundwater conditions it can reduce pollutants markedly and make the drainage water suitable for reuse, other than for human consumption.The FILTER technique produced water that meets Chinese standards, and also NSW Environment Protection Agency standards, for biological and chemical hazards. This has led to a further project LWR1/2002/113 Application of innovative irrigated cropping and soil filtration technology for wastewater reuse and treatment in China, in part a response to the heavy investment in the technology from the Chinese. The FILTER system technology alone will not solve all wastewater treatment problems in China. However, the research to date has shown that it forms an excellent, innovative component of a suite of potential solutions.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1998 - 31 Dec 2000

Partners

Tianjin Water Conservancy Bureau - Scientific and Technical Department - China
China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research - Department of Irrigation and Drainage - China

Leaders

Dr Nihal S. Jayawardane

Email

nihal.jayawardane@csiro.au

Phone

02 6246 5811

Website
Launch Website

Water and nitrogen management to increase agricultural production and improve environmental quality

Overview of Project

The overall objective of the project was to increase the efficiency of use of nitrogen in the North China Plain (NCP), to improve crop production and decrease contamination of groundwater with nitrate and to reduce emission of greenhouse gases. A parallel study was undertaken as part of a large more comprehensive project in northeastern Victoria. The need to identify optimum water, N and P management for production while minimizing environmental impacts is fundamental to the survival of Australian and Chinese agriculture. The challenge facing China’s agriculturalists and planners is how to meet the food demands of its 1.2 billion people. The North China Plain (NCP) supports a large population through intensive wheat-maize systems. Production is based on large inputs of inorganic fertiliser and irrigation water - more than 400 kg/ha of nitrogen and 450 mm of water each year. Improving productivity is the preferred option to meet demand and can be achieved by improved efficiency of fertiliser use (especially nitrogen) and improved management of water for irrigation.

Earlier ACIAR projects studied the efficiency of nitrogen fertilisers in flooded rice systems and how to maximize the benefits of biological nitrogen fixation, mostly at the plot scale. This project was orientated to the environmental impacts of nitrogen losses from agriculture at larger scales. Scientists quantified water, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) losses from the soil-plant systems to the environment, and undertook systems modelling and study practices for crop, water and nutrient management.

Key Outcomes of Project

Project Outcomes

The project showed that on the NCP large losses of nitrogen and water occurred from maize grown in the warm and wet season, but losses from winter wheat were small. Losses of nitrogen were largely in the form of ammonia resulting from the application of urea to the relatively light and alkaline soils of the NCP.

The scientists found that simply changing farmers’ practices to applying urea just before irrigation markedly reduced gaseous losses of nitrogen. This practice is now being promoted to farmers around the experimental sites. For example, 20% of farmers near Fengqiu experimental station in Henan Province applied excessive N fertiliser and there was significant potential to reduce the N fertiliser input. A survey of Fengqiu county showed that the highest maize yields (not necessary the most economical yields) were achieved when 200-250 kg N/ha fertiliser was applied, but about 20% formers applied more than this amount. This excessive amount of N not only caused farmers financial losses but also increased the nitrate recharge into the ground water as a contaminant.

Using a GIS database the scientists graphically displayed the location of these farmers and advised them to reduce N use, and identify the real cause of their low yields by referring to their soil properties and management practices. The potential cost saving by using less N fertiliser with the possibility even to increase the yields is around RMB270,000 (A$63,000) for Fengqiu county, and RMB39m (A$9m) if extrapolated for all of Henan province.

For the first time in China the actual nitrate leaching was systematically measured and simulated. In the one ha experimental site in Fengqiu the nitrate leaching for the complete wheat-maize crops was 35 kg N/ha in the 1998-99 and 90 kg N/ha in 1999-2000, accounting for 8% and 18% applied N, respectively. This significant N leaching was caused by the excessive application of N fertiliser (466 kg N in 98-99 and 502 in 99-2000) and inappropriate and excessive irrigation (561 mm in 98-99 and 451mm in 99-2000). The county survey data showed no clear correlation between the amount of irrigation and maize yield. There was therefore significant room for reducing irrigation to reduce the nitrate leaching.

In northeast Victoria data collection and modelling at small catchment scales showed that even with P fertilisation (5-22 kg/ha P) that there was very little transport of P out of the catchments (0.1-0.7 kg/ha per year). There was a small decrease in drainage in high P input systems at Maindample (cocksfoot pasture) but the reverse was found at Ruffy (perennial natives). N losses were around 7 kg/ha per year in a dry year (1998) and 17 kg/ha per year in wetter years. It was found that grasses could not decrease drainage and therefore could not reduce rises in groundwater nor reduce salt rising up the profile. Deep-rooted perennials had to be used to reduce drainage."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1998 - 30 Jun 2003

Partners

China Agricultural University - China
Department of Natural Resources and Environment - Australia
Chinese Academy of Science - China
University of Melbourne

Leaders

Prof Robert White

Email

r.white@agriculture.unimelb.edu.au

Phone

03 8344 5013

Website
Launch Website

Evaluation of East Asian citrus germplasm as scions and rootstock

Overview of Project

The specific objectives of the project were: to collect and exchange citrus rootstocks, clones, public access hybrids and species native to each country (Vietnam, China and Australia); to cooperate in the evaluation of citrus rootstock material including germplasm characterisation, assessment of tolerance to pathogenic and environmental stresses, and assessment of horticultural potential; to collect and exchange citrus scion germplasm of economic significance to each country; to assess, improve and maintain the health status of citrus scion germplasm; to investigate the feasibility for citrus seed introduction and the reduction of the juvenile period to provide fruiting wood (in comparison to the time taken for budwood introductions to be available for trial); to establish source trees of important new citrus scion cultivars in each country.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project successfully fostered the exchange of citrus rootstock and scion germplasm between Australia, China and Vietnam for the benefit of citrus improvement programs in each country and promoted the further collection and conservation of native germplasm in China and Vietnam. The subsequent screening of accessions for horticultural performance, salt tolerance and disease tolerance identified important sources of variation in key attributes relevant to current rootstock improvement programs.

Training programs have been highly effective in broadening the scope of citrus improvement programs in both China and Vietnam and in promoting the wider use of rootstocks to improve orchard productivity

Virus-free budwood of 20 public-access varieties was supplied to Vietnam from Australia along with seed of commercially important citrus rootstocks. Seeds of 13 citrus species and hybrids were supplied to China from germplasm collections in Australia together with budwood of public-access navel orange clones. In all, a total of 47 new accessions have been introduced into China. Forty-four new scion and rootstock accessions were introduced as seed into Australia from Vietnam and 35 accessions from China, including seeds from crosses made in China to investigate salt tolerance in Poncirus trifoliata. Along with the rootstock material introduced during the first project this represents a unique germplasm resource which will be of considerable long-term benefit to citrus improvement programs in Australia and internationally throughout the region.

Screening experiments conducted in Australia for Phytophthora, CTV, salt tolerance and early indications of graft incompatibility demonstrated wide variability among accessions. New salt accumulating and excluding germplasm was identified. Zaoyang zhi, a P. trifoliata accession from China has shown no indication of yellow-ring incompatibility (a major problem in commercial lemons) with Eureka lemon in early screening trials, and has great promise as an alternative replant rootstock for Eureka lemons.

Nine replicated preliminary field screening trials have been successfully established in Australia to assess horticultural performance and disease and salt tolerance of rootstock accessions under field conditions. Trials of Valencia orange, Navelina, Lane Late navel, Imperial mandarin, Eureka lemon and Fino lemon scion cultivars are revealing differences among accessions in effects on initial yield and yield efficiency relative to tree size. The field screening trials are being conducted as part of the National Citrus Rootstock Screening Program with funding support from Horticulture Australia.

The marketing period for citrus in China has traditionally been quite short but the introduction of new citrus varieties has served to extend the supply period and boost the industry. Among the introduced cultivars Lane Late navel has been extensively propagated and 100,000 trees planted in south China. "

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 30 Jun 2007

Partners

Southern Fruit Research Institute - Vietnam
Research Institute of Fruit and Vegetables - Vietnam
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
CSIRO Plant Industry - Australia

Leaders

Dr Ken Bevington

Email

ken.bevington@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Phone

03 5019 8431

Regional water and soil assessment for managing sustainable agriculture

Overview of Project

The project aimed to improve water-use efficiency (WUE) and reduce related land degradation in defined agricultural areas in China and Australia. In much of the world, improving the efficiency of water use can help promote both the sustainability and the productivity of agricultural systems. The project aimed to improve water-use efficiency (WUE) and reduce related land degradation in defined agricultural areas in China and Australia. There are two factors in this equation: the pressures on the existing water resource and any limitations in the efficient use of that water in agriculture. To assess water-related limitations in agriculture, and the off-farm impacts of inefficient water use, predictive models and indicators of environmental sustainability are needed, both for the farms and for the catchments in which they operate.

This study focused on four major regions of agricultural production in China and Australia, all of which had significant problems of soil and water degradation. In the Chinese study sites, agriculture was well developed but productivity without irrigation tended to be low. Soil erosion was a problem, as well as lack of available water at the right time for crops.

In the Australian sites salinisation was a problem, along with water logging and other land degradation problems caused by rising groundwater tables. The project was designed to help local farmer groups and advisers identify signs of soil and water degradation, to provide information on appropriate actions to combat the problems and to monitor progress.

Key Outcomes of Project

Specific outputs resulting from the project were: validation in Australia and China of the WAVES model (an integrated energy and water balance model that has been under development with CSIRO and its partners since 1993), including the development of tools for optimising irrigation schedules based on increasing WUE; hillslope hydrology measurement and modelling; increased understanding of the soil-water processes linked to elements of degradation (specifically salinity and sodicity, as well as erosion on the Loess Plateau); the development of methods for the regional analysis of moisture availability, annual water yield, soil erosion, soil salinity and sodicity mapping, crop assessment and WUE mapping; refinement and application of indicator methods at farm, regional and national levels.

The research developed indicators for WUE and related land degradation, including waterlogging, salinisation and ground water recharge, in the Chinese study regions. Analogous work was conducted in catchments in South Australia and Victoria. In the irrigated parts of the North China Plain, models were developed to match the timing of irrigation with crop water requirements, with the object of maximising WUE and minimising the environmental hazards associated with irrigation.

The major outcome of the Chinese segment of the project was the consistent monitoring of agricultural WUE over 20% of the 300,000 km2 North China Plain from 1984 until 1996. Professor Liu Changming implemented the method for routine generation of maps of WUE throughout the entire Hebei Province, with funding supplied by the Hebei provincial government.

The project also prepared farm-level management manuals for both Australian and Chinese farmer groups and advisers, to help them identify signs of soil and water degradation. The project team had strong interaction with local farmer groups in both countries and with policy makers at local, State and national level.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 30 Jun 2001

Partners

Chinese Academy of Science
China

Leaders

Dr Tim McVicar

Email

tim.mcvicar@csiro.au

Phone

02-6246 5741

Website
Launch Website

Sustainable mechanised dryland grain production

Overview of Project

The project aimed to determine the full impact of mechanised conservation tillage on crop production, so as to combine the practices of conservation tillage and controlled traffic. Water availability is the main factor limiting crop production in large areas of northwest China and in most of the Australian wheat belt. Grain production in the 300-600 mm rainfall zone in China is described as dryland. It occurs in seven provinces, much of it in the Loess Plateau area, with wheat and maize being the main crops.

Agriculture in this part of China has mechanised faster than the rest of the country. Use of buffaloes has declined and the traditional methods of tilling are not compatible with the new mechanised farming. In addition, with less human labour available for working the land the labour-intensive practices of the past may no longer be possible. Mechanisation is therefore essential, but vehicles can compact the soil in the crop zone, making it harder for water to soak in - a major problem in these areas that receive relatively little rainfall.

Controlled traffic, a system in which permanent compacted laneways are used for all heavy field traffic, is seen as a possible solution. Some of its advantages were demonstrated in ACIAR project 1992/009. As well as this, soil treatments and selected ways of tilling the ground can also help maintain good soil structure, reduce runoff and soil erosion, and promote water infiltration. The net result is an increase in productivity.

This project sought to evaluate wheel traffic effects further, in a range of diverse sites, as well as test the hypothesis that conservation tillage - where crop residues are left as mulch on the soil - would reduce soil disturbance and lower the energy requirements of the farm system. Because the wheat-growing areas of China and Australia share common problems, much of this research is relevant to dryland production in Australia.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project generated convincing evidence that this technology can provide significant improvements in productivity and economics. Its effectiveness is evident in the rate of adoption of reduced tillage in China, where 60 conservation cropping demonstration areas now cover more than 100,000 ha in 13 northwest provinces, and farm-scale adoption is evident in many areas.

Because the scale of field operations is usually small in China, project work there focused on the development and assessment of low-powered equipment and systems of reduced tillage. In Australia field equipment is heavier, so work focused on the impact of wheel traffic.

In China, over 10 years of continuous winter wheat cropping at Linfen, and spring maize cropping at Shouyang, conservation tillage led to yield increases of 18% and 15% respectively in the plots established in 1993, compared with traditional practice. Treatment effects on yield were greater in dry years, and water availability at planting had a major effect on wheat yields in this summer-dominant rainfall environment.

This project has shown that in Shanxi Province through the development of sustainable mechanised crop production systems, conservation tillage can increase maize and wheat yields by more than 10% - by greatly boosting soil moisture retention and reducing land preparation costs. Advances in machinery, together with strong promotion by the Shanxi Agricultural Machinery Bureau and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, have encouraged rapid adoption. The project has been heavily profiled, both on provincial and national television.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, Bureau of Mechanization is keen to invest heavily in a conservation tillage initiative for China, targeting 180 million mu (12 million ha) of the Loess Plateau and adjacent regions. This appears to be a direct result of the work conducted in this project. The Chinese project leader Professor Gao (Centre for Conservation Tillage, China Agricultural University) is an official adviser for the initiative.

The adoption has spread to other provinces. In Gansu Province the Ministry of Agriculture recently chose Xifeng as a pilot area for conservation tillage. Currently, 10,000 mu of farmland in the Qingyang County have been contracted to trial conservation tillage for winter wheat and maize as a demonstration site for other provinces. The contract for machinery is held by the Agriculture Machinery Research Institute (AMRI) in Xifeng, and it has based the design of its machines on work done by Prof. Gao. AMRI has conducted an experiment in conservation tillage for the past year near Xifeng City on a 42 mu plot of land, and claims to show an increase in winter wheat yields of 19%. Some 50 small zero-till drills (tractor drawn) for either wheat or maize are now available, with their design attributed to the ACIAR project.

In Australia controlled traffic conservation tillage methods are revolutionising management of more than 1million hectares of grain farming. Over a five-year period (three summer and four winter crops) controlled traffic zero tillage with stubble retention reduced cumulative runoff by 46% and increased rainfall infiltration by 18%. Mean yield of winter and summer crops improved by 15 and 12% respectively, compared with stubble mulch wheeled treatments. Some farmers also claim that gains from the 2-4 day relaxation in timeliness constraints on spraying, planting and harvesting are as much benefit as direct yield increase.

High-precision GPS guidance was available only in the last few months of the project, and it showed a linear accuracy of equipment to within 25 mm at 95% probability. This technology opens up significant new crop management possibilities, such as interrow planting and spraying, together with better matching of nutrient supply to crop demand. Options such as relay intercropping could facilitate the development of cropping programs that more closely mimic natural vegetation, and enhance the sustainability of cropping.

The scientists undertook preliminary calibration of the PERFECTsimulation model. Running the model over 44 years of Gatton weather data for wheat/sorghum opportunity cropping illustrated treatment effects on cropping frequency, and predicted an overall mean yield increase of 36%, and a reduction in soil loss by 95% when controlled traffic zero tillage replaced random traffic stubble mulch tillage. Validation ofPERFECT in China and Australia is continuing.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 31 Dec 2003

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
Department of Natural Resources and Mines - Queensland - Natural Resource Sciences - Australia
China Agricultural University - Eastern (Engineering) Campus - China

Leaders

Dr Jeff Tullberg

Email

jtullb@bigpond.net.au

Phone

07 3378 5249

Website
Launch Website

Postharvest handling and disease control in melons

Overview of Project

This project documented the harvest, handling and marketing of melons in Western China and assessed the feasibility of using novel “defence eliciting” treatments for postharvest disease control. A joint initiative between the University of Sydney and the Argricultural University of China. The project focused on identification of the causes of postharvest melon losses in Australia and China and tested novel strategies towards the control of postharvest melon diseases. Novel strategies were urgently required to replace benomyl, which was withdrawn from postharvest use in Australia as of 31/12/1996.

Key Outcomes of Project
  1.  documentation of postharvest melon handling systems and the major causative agents responsible for postharvest melon loss in China. This will be done using the Australian system as a standard for comparison and testing the Australian control measures in China to reduce postharvest melon losses;
  2. investigation of the factors affecting the resistance of melons to the diseases. These include
    • test of resistant cultivars,
    • evaluation of systemic inducing resistance (SIR) agents and
    • understanding of environmental factors on the expression of host resistance;
  3. preliminary development of biocontrol methods for control of postharvest melon diseases.
Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 31 Dec 1998

Partners

Participants in China came from three laboratories (Gansu Melon Research Institute - Sichuan Pomological Institute and China Agricultural University) and a Department of Agriculture (Melon Quality Control Authority - Xingjiang Department of Agriculture) and in Australia from the University of Sydney and NSW Agriculture in association with the Sydney Postharvest Laboratory (based at CSIRO Food Science & Technology).China Agricultural University - China

Leaders

Dr Y Huang

Email

y.huang@agec.usyd.edu.au

Phone

02 9351 1807

Website
Launch Website

Integrated control of citrus pests in China and Southeast Asia

Overview of Project

This project aimed to develop sustainable ways of controlling insect pests on citrus trees in Southeast Asia. The project used the techniques of integrated pest management (IPM) and concentrated on China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The work also sought to refine existingIPM programs for citrus that are currently used in Australia. The main technology studied was the application of petroleum spray oils (PSOs).

China is one of the richest centres of citrus variety in the world and has become increasingly important in global production. More than one million hectares of citrus are planted, making citrus the country’s second largest fruit crop planting. Despite this, local demand still outstrips supply.

Citrus trees suffer from a wide range of insect and mite pests. These can cause serious reductions in yields or simply ruin fruit. The use of broad-spectrum insecticides in Asia and Australia has had mixed effects. Long-term worries of insecticide use include reductions in the population of beneficial insects, which are predatory on the pest species, as well as the development of resistance and the existence of residues.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a broad approach to pest control that does not rest solely on chemical insecticides. It aims to be practical, effective, economic and protective of public health and the environment. It can make use of biological control as well as substances that are inimical to the pests without being toxic.

In citrus pest management, PSOs have emerged as a significant new factor in IPM programs. They do not pose a threat to the environment at the doses used, and target insects cannot develop resistance. Operators need only minimal protection when using them. Previous ACIAR research had shown that these oils can provide a level of control of all the main leaf and fruit pests of citrus equivalent to conventional insecticides.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project clearly demonstrated that petroleum spray oil is an effective selective pesticide across all 12 experimental locations in China and Southeast Asia. This supported previous research findings that incorporation of PSOs into citrus IPM programs provides as effective or better control of most major citrus pests than control programs based on broad-spectrum synthetic pesticides. Populations of natural enemies are also better conserved in plots using oil-based IPM than other spray programs. Studies conducted for 2 years at four locations demonstrated that up to 10 applications of 0.5% narrow range, phyto-protected oil sprays per season did not cause visible phytotoxicity or have any effect on yield. It also produced more attractive looking fruit in three of the four locations.

Cost comparisons of IPM programs based on petroleum spray oil and spray programs based on broad-spectrum synthetic pesticides in nine locations provided mixed results. In Guangdong Province China the cost of the oil-based program was consistently less than the broad-spectrum pesticide program. However, the trend was evident that as oil is used for a longer period of time in a particular location, the more likely it is that the cost of oil-based IPM will be less than other pest control programs. This may be because the badly degraded natural enemy populations need a period of a number of seasons to recover to a level where they can effectively contribute to pest control.

The comprehensive results of this project obtained from locations throughout China and Southeast Asia provided important basic information about how to incorporate petroleum oil sprays into citrus IPM. The data were particularly pertinent because one of the major problems currently encountered in citrus IPM in the region is the diminishing number of effective selective chemicals as a result of the development of pest resistance. The project thus made a valuable contribution to the pool of information for development, refinement and extension of citrusIPM programs in China and Southeast Asia.

The project results if effectively extended would bring significant benefits to the environment, the health of farmers and workers who apply agricultural chemicals, and the health of consumers who eat the products. This is because PSOs allow the use of broad-spectrum pesticides to be minimised, they do not pose a threat to the environment at rates used to control horticultural pests, they are safe for use with minimum protective clothing and they allow conservation of natural enemy populations.

The major challenge ahead for citrus IPM in China and Southeast Asia is the extension of research results to the end-users. This is an enormous task because most citrus farming in the region is conducted on a very small scale by farming families. In China the average farm size is less than 0.5 ha and more than 3 million farmers are involved in the industry. 

Project Dates

01 Jul 1997 - 30 Jun 2000

Partners

University of Western Sydney - Australia
Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
Department of Agriculture - Thailand
National Institute of Plant Protection - Vietnam
Department of Agriculture - Malaysia

Leaders

Professor Andrew Beattie

Email

a.beattie@uws.edu.au

Phone

02 4570 1287

Website
Launch Website

The impact of genetic diversity on wheat productivity - a comparative analysis of China and Australia

Overview of Project

Lack of genetic diversity can potentially limit the ability of cropping systems to resist unknown or evolving pests, pathogens, or adverse environmental conditions. A major frustration in the diversity debate is that there is no clear definition or concise measure of genetic diversity at the farm level. The empirical evidence on the diversity - productivity relationship is also extremely limited. The objectives of the proposed research are: 1) to define and develop the concept of indices to measure genetic diversity in farmers’ fields and assess the extent of genetic diversity in wheat production system and 2) to quantify the impact of genetic diversity on crop productivity and variation in output

Key Outcomes of Project

Detailed country case studies of China and Australia will be used to explore these issues. By providing a better understanding about the relationship between genetic diversity and wheat productivity and stability in yield, the researchers will be able to identify the extent of variety mix that farmers can plant to ensure stable wheat yields over time. In this project, the researchers will also identify i) economically important traits that require breeders attention and from which source material may be available from CIMMYT; and ii) gaps in CIMMYT germplasm collections that could potentially be filled by Chinese materials.

Project Dates

01 May 1997 - 30 Apr 1999

Partners

Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy - Institute of Agricultural Economics - China
University of Sydney - Department of Agricultural Economics - Australia
NSW Agriculture - Agricultural Research Institute - Australia

Leaders

Dr Prabhu Pingali

Website
Launch Website

Analysis of Socio-Economic Developments in the Chinese Beef and Cattle Industry (ACIAR Project Number: ANRE9502)

Overview of Project

The broad aim of this project is to take stock of the Chinese beef and cattle industry and to provide the basis on which both Chinese and Australian policy makers can develop effective strategies to maximize the benefits of current and likely future changes in this dynamic sub-sector of Chinese agriculture. The objectives of this research can be described in more detail as follows:

  • To identify and document emerging developments in the Chinese beef and cattle industry
  • To outline the economic and social effects of the rapid growth in the Chinese beef and cattle industry as well as the spill-over effects on the environment (and the cross linkages between these effects)
  • To identify and evaluate various strategies and policy measures which take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the recent developments in the Chinese beef and cattle industry "
Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 01 Jun 2000

Partners

Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Institute of Rural Development within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Department of International Co-operation within the Ministry of Agriculture
China Agricultural Economics Group
The University of Queensland

Website
Launch Website

Analysis of Agribusiness Developments in the Chinese Beef and Cattle Industry

Overview of Project

"The aim of this research is to generate information about the development of the beef and cattle agribusiness sector in China that will be of value to the Australian beef industry over the next decade. The researchers also want to establish contact networks that will facilitate on-going participation by the Australian beef industry in the Chinese market as it emerges. The detailed objectives of this project are as follows:

  • To identify potential for growth and development of the agribusiness aspects of the Chinese beef and cattle industry
  • To identify opportunities for Australian beef industry interests to participate in the expansion of agribusiness opportunities related to the Chinese beef and cattle markets."
Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 01 Dec 1998

Partners

Institute of Agricultural Economics within the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Institute of Rural Development within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Department of International Co-operation within the Ministry of Agriculture

Website
Launch Website

Analysis of socio-economic and agribusiness developments in the Chinese beef and cattle industry

Overview of Project

The main aim of this project was to gain a comprehensive overview of the recent substantial changes in the Chinese beef and cattle industry. An important objective was to help Chinese and Australian beef industry officials formulate strategies and policies to take advantage of the recent developments in the Chinese industry.

Beef production in China expanded more than 15-fold between 1978 and 1994. This astonishing rate of increase was far greater than that of the pig or poultry sectors. Chinese beef grew into an enormous industry by world standards; at the time this project began China had 123 million cattle producing 3.3 million tonnes of beef per annum. The industry was modernising and commercialising at a remarkable pace, and in recognition of this the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture designated beef a major area of research.

The sudden growth and change in the beef sector was having major effects on the traditional production and distribution system, as well as on rural development in certain parts of China. Not all of the effects were necessarily beneficial. There was an urgent need to develop policies and strategies at the local, regional and national levels to guide the future development of this important new source of protein. Sensible handling of the beef industry was regarded as critically important for the future sustainable development of China’s pastoral regions.

Small feedlots were starting up in China and likely to become increasingly important. However, most existing feedlots were small-scale individual enterprises with generally low levels of technical and managerial expertise. The long experience of Australia in beef production was regarded as an asset to both countries. "

Key Outcomes of Project

In the course of undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the socioeconomic and agribusiness aspects of developments in the Chinese cattle and beef industry the project researchers examined many specific areas and grouped them into various dimensions of the analysis. Development was a central component of the project, and the main focus was the two-way relationship between industry development on the one hand and rural incomes, government revenues and other social issues on the other.

The regional dimension became a key aspect of the project. Researchers identified the spatial distribution of the cattle and beef industry as a crucial theme, and incorporated issues of regional comparative advantage, integration and development.

Agribusiness impacts were a major part of the overall project. The team analysed how overseas agribusiness interests could help improve marketing channels and supply chains to assist industry and rural development.

The project made a strong contribution to the study of environmental aspects of the beef industry. Whilst Chinese decision-makers emphasised the positive but not the negative environmental effects of industry development, both were explored in the project.

The main forms of project output were publications and an ‘end-of-project’ workshop. A large number of publications appeared in both English and Chinese, with emphasis placed on ensuring that key results were published through widely available Chinese sources. Publications were diverse, taking the form of substantive research reports and papers as well as conference papers, the intent being to disseminate and peer-review findings of the research in the widest possible way.

The list of publications also included many student theses associated with the project. While none of the eight students received direct assistance from the project in terms of salaries or research expenses, they benefited through access to project information and personnel, participation in fieldwork interviews, and other indirect benefits from loose association with the project. Conversely, the project gained much from their contributions by allowing specific areas to be covered in much greater detail than would otherwise have been possible.

The study produced a database of contacts throughout the Chinese cattle and beef industries that contains in excess of 300 contacts and a reference database of over 500 references pertaining to the study. Another important project-initiated resource is a catalogue of field reports that present an unedited record of the 400+ interviews.

The project forged closer links between the various participants within the Chinese beef industry and enhanced the research capability of the collaborating Chinese institutes. The outputs also alerted Australian industry to the likely trade opportunities that are emerging as the Chinese industry seeks to continue its modernisation. Although the Sino-Australian beef trade is small, the developments in China could markedly alter the nature of the North Asian beef market, which is one of Australia’s most important outlets. This project provided important economic information about this for the Australian beef industry."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 30 Jun 2000

Partners

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences - Rural Development Institute - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - Institute of Agricultural Economics - China
Ministry of Agriculture - Department of International Cooperation - China
University of Queensland - Australia

Leaders

Professor John W Longworth

Email

j.longworth@uq.edu.au

Phone

07 3365 9015

Website
Launch Website

Improvement of Adzuki bean in China

Overview of Project

Adzuki bean is native to China, where approximately five million households grow about 650,000 hectares. The grain is mainly produced in four northern provinces for use in foodstuffs (a market worth about $A1 billion) and for the $A75 million export market. In Australia, 500-1000 hectares of adzuki bean (cv. Bloodwood) supply about 400 tonnes per year of high quality raw beans to Japanese processors. This food legume could be a useful source of vegetable protein.

However, the plants tend to produce much leaf and stem but little grain. The crop is also a target for virus and fungal diseases and insect pests, both during growth and while in storage. As well, adzuki bean growth is constrained by inadequate nitrogen fixation and by sensitivity to temperature and daylength. In all, Chinese farmers consider the crop more risky to grow than cereals. The project aimed to stimulate plant breeders to work on adzuki bean, by characterising the germplasm presently available.

Key Outcomes of Project

The adzuki germplasm was shown to fall into separate groups for northern and for southern China, with additional groups overlapping in central China. A general centre of diversity was located from the Yellow River to the Yangtze River valleys inland in middle China, including Shanxi, Henan and Hubei provinces. Each group had characteristic genotype x environment interactions, with relative growth, phenology and yield rankings altered at each assessment location.

At Harbin less than 20 per cent of accessions produced seed. These were the earliest lines at all locations and apparently photoperiod-insensitive. Vegetative growth was the most vigorous at this site, which had the latest time from sowing to flowering.

At Liaoyang in Liaoning all but 28 per cent of accessions from southern and middle China produced seed, and standardised growth, phenologic and reproductive data were recorded for most entries. This site also recorded the greatest mean yield and the greatest maximum yield in China, and was the second latest site in time from sowing to flowering. North Chinese accessions yielded best at Liaoyang,

Growth of some entries was severely checked by unidentified virus(es) at all sites except Henan, with site specificity for infection pattern particularly at Shijiazhuang. Only a few accessions were virus free at all locations.

At Shijiazhuang (38 2’N) in Hebei all accessions produced seed. This was also the most uniform test site as per the variance of repeated check plots in an unreplicated nursery. This was the second earliest site and second ranking for mean yield. Mean seed weight was greatest at this site though Liaoyang was nearly equivalent and the maximum value for seed weight was expressed at Harbin. The greatest yields at Shijiazhuang were shown by middle-lower northern origin of accessions.

Zhengzhou (34 31’N) in Henan was free from virus, however 20 per cent of the trial was water logged so results were complete only for the remainder. Here accessions sourced from middle China were the greatest yielders. Vegetative growth was least at this site, though it recorded the highest mean and maximum pods/plant. Seed weight was generally less and yields were medium to low.

At Ya’an (29 50’N) in Sichuan, there was a high level of virus infection, as well as insect damage to seed set. This site had the earliest mean time to flowering, was the second most vigorous in vegetative growth, but medium amongst sites for expression of reproductive traits. The best yielding group was from south-middle China, with high pod number compensating for low seed weight.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 30 Jun 2000

Partners

Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - Legume Laboratory - China

Website
Launch Website

Common bean germplasm: trait evaluation and multivariate analyses

Overview of Project

The agricultural problem underlying this research is under-exploitation of large germplasm collections by plant breeders. Access to processed data on both CIAT germplasm and breeding lines is required for plant breeders world wide to interrogate CIAT databases for genetic resources to fit specific needs. Transfer of database software to Australia and CAAS Beijing China will give Australian and Chinese breeders direct access to information on genetic resources. The project will move towards linking the entire common bean germplasm database to internet so that it can be accessed from anywhere on the network. The project will also provide a model for the work envisaged in a separate ACIAR proposal on adzuki bean germplasm evaluation in China and Australia.

Key Outcomes of Project

In the first year of the project, a nursery of 134 lines especially selected for utility to chinese partners was shipped from CIAT and evaluated in China. Sixteen lines presented low levels of virus infection to unidentified local strains. Two Chinese scientists were trained in CIAT-Colombia, one in entomology and one in pathology. Work was initiated in CIAT on adaptation of a pedigree and data management system, ICIS, to bean databases. This will both satisfy the immediate objectives of this project and permit access to broader applications of ICIS in the future. A PhD candidate in Australia initiated descriptive analysis of the data on the bean core collection. Molecular analysis of the core collection advanced in CIAT.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

International Center for Tropical Agriculture - Colombia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
University of Queensland - Australia
Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia

Leaders

Dr S Beebe

Website
Launch Website

Increasing crop production through biological control of soil-borne root diseases

Overview of Project

The aim of the project was to control various fungal root diseases that affect many crop plants by selecting and evaluating a range of Australian and Chinese soil microbes for use as biological control agents against the fungi responsible for disease. This would reduce the need for chemical fungicides or for cultivation treatments that could lead to soil erosion. The ultimate aim was to develop effective and reliable treatments that farmers could use to control important soil-borne root diseases of the target crops.

Soil-borne root diseases can often greatly reduce agricultural and horticultural productivity. ‘Take-all’ and Rhizoctonia diseases of wheat, along with ‘damping-off’ in vegetables and Verticillium wilt of cotton are of considerable economic importance in China and Australia. In southern Australia alone the loss of wheat to take-all disease is about $100 million per year. In China, where it is a problem under irrigated wheat, the value of lost production is estimated at $250 million per year. Cotton, one of Australia’s largest export earners, can also be severely affected, with the only solution being to replant the entire crop at considerable effort and expense.

Root diseases can be controlled somewhat by cultivation, but heavy cultivation may increase soil erosion. Conservation tillage regimes, introduced to reduce soil erosion by minimising the tilling of the soil, may benefit soil structure and water use but can actually increase root diseases. There are no signs that this has happened yet in northern China, but experience in America and Australia suggests that it is likely.

Biological controls were sought in the interests of safer and cleaner methods of disease control. A search for solutions that did not rely heavily on fungicides led to the introduction of beneficial soil fungi and bacteria that compete successfully with the pathogenic fungi, leading to disease control and increased root growth.

Commercial use of some of these microbes is now well established in Australia, USA, Europe and China. However, a major problem has been the lack of consistency in the response of plants to the application of these control agents, probably because of differences in the physical and chemical characteristics of soils. The project helped address this problem. It followed on from a one-year ACIAR project that tested the ability of selected soil bacteria and fungi to control take-all and Rhizoctonia of wheat under glasshouse conditions.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project showed that grain yield increases of 10 per cent were possible, with the best agents clearly outperforming fungicide. Good progress was made in understanding mechanisms of plant responses to biocontrol agents, and applying modern molecular techniques to these issues. One agent from Australia (Tk7a), with formulation from China, looked sufficiently promising to be considered for registration in both countries, and a commercialisation agreement between CAU and CSIRO was signed in November 1999.

Trichoderma Tk7a was produced under licence in China by the MinFeng company in 1999 and 2000. Factory procedures for producing the product were developed. Beyond 2000 the MinFeng company stopped producing biological control products, but new possibilities for sublicensed production in China progressed and formed the basis of an AusIndustry commercial development project. Field tests in Australia between 1999 and 2002 were done using the Trichoderma product formulated according to Chinese-developed methods. Potential for further commercial development in Australia was a part of the AusIndustry project.

However, despite the extensive field testing and the enthusiasm for commercialisation in China, the responses to biocontrol agents in wheat and cotton were patchy, sometimes because root disease did not develop in the control plots. The agents seemed to be as good as the fungicide seed dressing Baytan, and probably would be a lower cost option, but newer fungicides may be more effective. Progress was made in formulation of the agents for delivery to seed, overcoming what had earlier seemed to be an obstacle to its introduction. Testing on vegetables did not reach the field; effects seemed related to growth promotion as well as to disease control.

The ultimate aim of the project had been to develop a product for farmers to use, though this had not been expected within the life of this project. The fact that this stage was reached demonstrated a positive future for biological control and was a measure of the strength of the cooperation and the high level of skills available to the project.

An application was drafted for submission to AusAID China Program for funds to run a pilot agricultural extension project that covered general strategies for control of soil-borne diseases in western China (focus on Inner Mongolia). Biological control would be included as one strategy for control of disease. The production of appropriate, end-user-friendly extension materials was included as an integral part of this project. If successful this could be extended to other areas of China, particularly western provinces."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 30 Jun 2001

Partners

China Agricultural University - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Zhejiang Agricultural University - China
Australian Cotton Research Institute - Australia
CSIRO Land and Water - Australia

Leaders

Dr Maarten Ryder

Email

ryderresearch@chariot.net.au

Phone

0409 696 360

Website
Launch Website

Quarantine decision support and training aids for China and Australia

Overview of Project

Movement of agricultural and forestry products has increased dramatically after reform of the marketing system in China, resulting in higher quarantine risks. To reduce these risks, quarantine services are being upgraded and a new training centre established in China. Due to the large numbers of quarantine officers involved, training aids are urgently required.

The main aim of the initial project was to develop a series of computer based modules to provide distance learning and decision support tools for use by quarantine officers concerned with domestic quarantine issues. In May 2000, this project was extended to achieve two further objectives - to develop a similar training and decision support system for use by quarantine officers concerned with international quarantine issues, and to upgrade the domestic quarantine product to improve its quality and user-friendliness."

Key Outcomes of Project

The project resulted in the production of a prototype CD-ROM in Mandarin. The CD consists of five modules, including -

Basic information and tutorials This module, which is organised in the form of a hierarchy of headings, consists of numerous pages of text and images covering the following components:

laws and regulation for plant quarantine;

basic knowledge including texts and images of quarantine pests, including insects, bacteria, viruses, pathogens, nematodes and weeds;

operational information, particularly concerning treatment methods for quarantine pests.

Quarantine quiz This quiz section allows the plant quarantine officers using the CD to test their information and knowledge concerning major quarantine aspects, including their ability to diagnose and deal with plant quarantine problems. The quiz is divided into subject topics and once an answer has been provided to a question, the user is given immediate feedback. Once all the questions on a topic have been answered, the user can review all of the questions and answers.

LucID keys LucID technology, developed in Australia by the University of Queensland, is a world leader in presenting and processing diagnostic information. Four interactive keys for pest identification are included in this section. There is a key to 31 Orders of insects, another to plant quarantine insect pests in China, another to plant quarantine diseases in China and the fourth to plant quarantine weeds in China. All four keys have images and text on the character states used for identification as well as text and images that provide further details on each of the taxa included in the keys.

Species fact sheets (species information) The fact sheets for the 34 quarantine species included in the LucID keys can also be accessed directly through this module. Each fact sheet for a particular quarantine pest includes information on scientific and common names, host range, damage caused by the pest and the symptoms caused, morphological characters, biology, methods and pathway of spread, plant quarantine surveillance methods and control practices. There are numerous images for a number of these pests, illustrating the aspects above, and a map showing the distribution of the quarantine pest in China.

Videos Two videos are included in the CD. Video 1 shows symptoms and methods for diagnosing bacterial diseases, while Video 2 shows fumigation practices for eliminating pests from shipping containers.

The prototype CD has already been used in training courses for domestic quarantine officers held at Zhejiang University and plans are being developed to produce a final version of the product for distribution throughout China. Because the CD is in Mandarin it has potential value for most domestic quarantine officers throughout China.

As trade within China increases and there are greater exports (particularly as a result of China’s involvement in the World Trade Organisation), the need for improved quarantine practice will increase, as will the potential benefit of this product. The additional activities that commenced in May 2000 will lead to further development of the training and decision support software to cover international quarantine.

The system can be adapted for other countries. Thailand and Malaysia, on seeing a presentation about development of decision support systems and training aids to quarantine in China and Australia, expressed strong interest in having the system modified to meet their own needs."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1997 - 31 Dec 2003

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
Zhejiang Agricultural University - Department of Plant Protection - China

Leaders

Professor Geoff Norton

Email

G.Norton@cbit.uq.edu.au

Website
Launch Website

Improved diagnosis and control of peanut stripe virus

Overview of Project

Peanut stripe virus (PStV) is a major cause of yield reductions in peanut (Arachis sp.) crops in many countries. Naturally occurring infections have been reported in China, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar, and the virus has entered India and the USA with germplasm introductions. Yield losses due to infection under dry season, broadacre peanut production are frequently as high as 75-80%.

Australian peanut crops are free of the virus, and it is important that quarantine remains effective in keeping it out. Peanut production under Australian conditions would not be viable if yield losses typical of those produced by PStV were to occur. The risk of accidental introduction of the virus in imported raw peanuts is considered high, and aphids capable of transmitting it are widespread in Australian peanut crops.

Previous work using the classical breeding approaches incorporating host plant resistance had not produced any sources of PStV resistance despite exploring the entire world peanut germplasm collection (over 11,000 accessions). Resistance to PStV had been identified among wild Arachis relatives, but crosses to introduce this trait had not been successful, due to incompatibility between species. Therefore, genetic engineering offered the best opportunity to improve existing cultivars by selectively adding specific new traits such as virus resistance.

The main aims of this project were to develop further the gene transfer system developed in ACIAR project CS1/1990/017 (Improved diagnosis and control of peanut stripe virus) and to produce PStV-resistant peanuts by inserting a coat protein gene from the virus into commercial cultivars. Expression of coat protein genes in genetically transformed plants had yielded protection against a range of polyviruses (the family to which PStV belongs), but systems for producing transgenic peanut plants had yet to be developed.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project developed a practical and efficient genetic transformation and regeneration system for cultivars in both botanical types of peanut. Using particle bombardment technology in Australia and China, reporter and viral resistance genes were introduced into peanut. As well, an alternative Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system was investigated.

Four modified versions of PStV coat protein (CP) sequences were engineered and assessed in transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana plants for protection against PStV infection. The scientists achieved immunity to infection in about 70 per cent of the lines following mechanical challenge inoculation. Immune lines were protected even against isolates with the highest sequence divergence in the CP gene. Seven transgenic peanut lines of cultivar Gajah (Spanish market type) carrying CP2 or CP4 variations were identified as resistant or immune to infection to the virus in glasshouse trials in Australia.

Scientists working in Australia, China and Indonesia developed diagnostic methods for detecting the presence of modified viruses (a non-radioactive probe hybridisation for PStV, and reverse transcriptase-PCR assays for detecting and identifying a range of seed-borne peanut viruses).

A study of the biological and genetic variability of PStV isolates in Indonesia, Thailand and China found geographically related groups with wide symptom diversity. Indonesian isolates of PStV were identified as intra-species recombinants, while Chinese strains of peanut stunt virus were shown to differ sufficiently from strains in other locations, suggesting that they may form a third taxonomic subgroup of the species. This information is significant for future diagnostic tests.

Scientists in collaborating institutes in Indonesia and China working on peanut transformation and regeneration and diagnostics benefited from the project through the provision of equipment and the opportunity to participate in training with the Australian team. The scientists also took part in project coordination visits and a two-week workshop in Indonesia. Since the project’s final review, further transgenic resistance in the Gajah and Kelinci peanut cultivars was demonstrated using the technologies developed during the project.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1996 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Institut Pertanian Bogor - Indonesia
Research Institute for Food Crops Biotechnology - Indonesia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Ralf Dietzgen

Phone

07 33654968

Website
Launch Website

Large-scale field demonstration trials with entomopathogenic nematodes to control litchi pests in Guangdong

Overview of Project

Lychee is an important and high value crop in Guangdong Province, but suffers severe damage from insect borers, which at times cause the death of whole trees. Farmers waste much money on insecticidal treatments that have little effect because the chemicals do not penetrate the tunnels of the borers. Small scale trials have demonstrated that introduction of microscopic entomopathogenic nematodes can kill 90-100% of lychee borers, and this project will adapt the methodology to mcuh larger scale and provide demonstrations of the possibilities to lychee farmers.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1995 - 30 Jun 1998

Partners

Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
CSIRO Division of Entomology - Australia

Email

robinb@ento.csiro.au

Phone

02 6 246 4292

Website
Launch Website

Improvement of integrated pest management in brassica vegetable crops in China and Australia

Overview of Project

Overuse and misuse of chemical insecticides in the production of brassica vegetable crops has become a major problem in the Changjiang Valley, China. Insect pests have developed very high levels of resistance to pesticides, leading to increased spraying and higher control costs, and insecticide residues are causing serious damage to health and the environment.

Brassica crops account for more than half the total vegetable production and consumption in the valley, which supports 450 million people. The vegetables are grown commercially in small plots in the suburbs of the cities, with more than three crops often produced in a year.

Brassicas grown in summer and autumn usually receive 10-12 high-dose applications of pyrethroids, organophosphates, carbamates and insect growth regulators during a growing period of 120-150 days. With most of the vegetables consumed within a day or two of harvest, serious poisoning by insecticides has become a more frequent occurrence.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has made implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) in vegetable crops, with reduced pesticide use, a national priority.

The Queensland Department of Primary Industries has extensive experience with brassica pest management. Pests encountered are mostly the same as those found in the Changjiang Valley. Specific expertise is available and field work on these pests can be carried out under commercial conditions in Queensland.

The main objective of the project is to build on studies already conducted in China and Australia to develop sustainable management practices, involving significantly reduced pesticide usage and hazards, for brassica crops."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1995 - 30 Sep 1999

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia
Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia
Hunan Agricultural University - China

Leaders

Professor Myron Zalucki

Email

M.Zalucki@uq.edu.au

Phone

61 7 33651747

Website
Launch Website

Improvement of faba beans in China and Australia through germplasm evaluation, exchange and utilisation

Overview of Project

This project aims to develop improved varieties of faba bean for planting in China and Australia. Identification of research priorities concluded that a project involving five Chinese provinces Zhejiang, Gansu, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Yunnan and Australia, with links to the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), should be developed.

One element of the project will be a collecting mission to southern China to increase the range of germplasm. Seed gathered from farmers’ fields and marketplaces will augment the World Faba Bean Collection maintained by ICARDA in Syria, which currently holds 4490 open-pollinated accessions and 5238 pure-line accessions. Faba bean (Vicia faba) is an important crop helping maintain soil fertility as well as contributing to human nutrition and intensive livestock production.

China is the world’s largest producer, utilising the grain legume in intensive crop rotations, however, the area planted fell from 3 million ha in the 1950s to 2 million ha in the 1980s. Prevalence for farming systems based on two rice crops during the summer means that current faba bean varieties are too late maturing for incorporation in these systems. Other factors include relatively low and variable yields and disease susceptibility.

In Australia, the Grains Council has targeted faba bean production at 500,000 tonnes a year by 2000 compared with 130,000 tonnes now. The Grains Research and Development Corporation is supporting a national research and development program.

In Australia, disease resistance, time of maturity and other attributes are also constraining the expansion of faba bean plantings."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1995 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

NSW Agriculture - Australia
Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Harry Marcellos

Email

harry.marcellos@agric.nsw.gov.au

Phone

02 67631168

Website
Launch Website

Phosphine resistance in insect pests of stored grain

Overview of Project

Insecticides and fumigants are the most effective and flexible means of controlling pest activity in grain storage and handling, with phosphine being used as the main fumigant of grain in Australia, China and India. However, resistance to phosphine fumigation is emerging among many major pest species in Australia, China, India and many other countries. The aim of this project is to develop and implement management practices which limit the current problem of phosphine-resistant pest species and delay the further development of phosphine resistance.

Key Outcomes of Project

The project established that resistance within several major pest species posed a serious threat to the safe storage of grain in some situations. In China and India laboratory and field experiments led to formulations for dosage requirements for successful fumigation of resistant insects and provided a better understanding of resistance development and its management.

Very high levels of phosphine resistance were detected in several Chinese strains of stored grain pests (especially Rhizopertha dominicina and Cryptolestes). Field evaluations of phosphine use in China indicated that fumigation failures (i.e. incomplete control of pests leading to selection of phosphine-resistant strains) were inevitable while the prevailing practices persisted. A similar pattern emerged in India, while low-level resistance was detected amongst Australian isolates.

In Australia, scientists completed genetic studies on Chinese phosphine-resistant strains of three species. Results showed that two or more genes were apparently responsible for controlling phosphine resistance. Meanwhile studies in China provided information on the genetics and ecological fitness of resistance, and on cross-resistance to other chemicals, all of which help in understanding the evolution of resistance and in designing measures to counter it.

Studies in Australia showed that fumigations according to the protocols recommended for the CSIRO-patented Siroflo fumigation process (and similar procedures in Australia) did not control two resistant strains from China, therefore these protocols required urgent revision.

In China, field experiments in grain warehouses identified deficiencies in current practices, largely associated with inadequate storage sealing and gas-tightness. Modifications of fumigation techniques have led to improved maintenance of lethal dose (a higher concentration for longer) and compliance with agreed standards for fumigation success. The information on fumigation practices and modifications have helped the project team to formulate new recommendations for phosphine use in China to minimise the impact of phosphine-resistant strains.

In India the scientists formulated recommendations to improve fumigation performance and reduce development of resistance. Further research was recommended to show that a slow-release phosphine formulation could be used as a significant means of improving fumigation performance.

As a result of the project findings concerning phosphine resistance, Queensland and New South Wales authorities doubled the recommended dose for phosphine fumigation of grain."

Project Dates

01 Jan 1995 - 31 Dec 1999

Partners

State Administration of Grain Reserves - Department of Storage - China
State Internal Trade Bureau - Dept of International Co-Operation - China
Central Food Technological Research Institute - Infestation Control and Protectants Department - India

Leaders

Dr Greg Daglish

Email

Greg.Daglish@dpi.qld.gov.au

Phone

07 3896 9415

Website
Launch Website

Integrated control of citrus pests in China

Overview of Project

This project will build on the existing collaboration between the Biological and Chemical Research Institute (BCRI), New South Wales, Australia, and the Guangdong Entomological Institute (GEI), China. The main objectives of the research are to reduce the use of broad spectrum pesticides in China by implementing IPM programs and to improve Australian IPM programs through a greater understanding of the relative effectiveness of the natural enemies of citrus red scale and factors that influence their effectiveness, and through the introduction and release of a predatory thrips, Aleurodothrips fasciapennis (Franklin). Citrus production is an important subsector of Chinese agriculture and has increased threefold (28% annually) since 1978. Commercial plantings are expected to reach 1 million hectares by the year 2000. Emphasis on the use of broad spectrum pesticides (e.g. carbamates, organophosphates) since the 1940s has led to almost complete dependence on their use. The current annual cost of applying pesticides in southern China is very high up to 20% of the gross value of production per hectare.

In contrast, the 32 000 hectare, $250 million, Australian industry has successfully used integrated pest management (IPM) programs, based on the use of introduced natural enemies and C21C23 petroleum spray oils. In the late 1980s IPM programs were estimated to be reducing spray costs by $4001000 per hectare annually, particularly for the control of citrus red scale and white wax scale.

Key Outcomes of Project

A successful outcome to the project will benefit the Australian citrus industry with savings in spray costs estimated at $2 million per year as well as savings of up to $1 750 per hectare from reductions in downgraded fruit.

The Australian manufacturing industry also stands to benefit as the petroleum based oils are not produced in East Asia and Australian refineries are developing markets in the area. The project will also enable quarantine tests required for the release of A. fasciapennis in Australian orchards to be carried out in China at significantly lower costs than in Australia.

The benefits to China will include a reduction in the current unacceptably high pesticide spray costs, reduced pollution with pesticides and pesticide residues in fruit and reduction in health costs associated with the use of hazardous chemicals.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1993 - 30 Jun 1996

Partners

Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
Queensland Department of Primary Industries - Australia

Leaders

Professor Andrew Beattie

Email

a.beattie@uws.edu.au

Phone

02 4570 1287

Website
Launch Website

Forage management for the red soils of south central China

Overview of Project

The shortage of cultivable land in China is now a serious problem with losses due to road building and construction as well as to erosion. Ninety-five percent of China’s population live in the east and southeast and 600 million live in the 14 south and central provinces containing the red soils region.

Soil conditions are also acidic with high aluminium and iron oxide content. Widespread erosion has resulted in low soil organic matter and nutrients.

Due to clearing of the natural forest vegetation during the period since 1949, the red soils district now contains an estimated 480 000 km2 of eroded wasteland (18% of the total area). A further large area of the grassland is used only for low productivity grazing pasture. Reclamation of these deforested hillsides and the marginal lands surrounding rice paddies is now critical for improving the living standards of the region’s people."

Key Outcomes of Project

This project deals with the management and utilisation of forages after establishment, concentrating on pasture-only systems because of the greater return expected per unit of research effort for pasture. However, it is important to ensure that establishment costs are not put at risk by future crop failure.

The objectives of this project are to develop management stategies which will promote persistence while at the same time allowing forage to be removed from the pastures. The major climatic limitations for forage growth in the red soils region include the short cold winters with little sunlight, and frequent drought during summer and autumn."

Project Dates

01 Jul 1993 - 31 Oct 1997

Partners

University of New England - Australia
Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
CSIRO Division of Animal Production - Australia

Leaders

Associate Professor Donald MacLeod

Phone

067 732789

Website
Launch Website

Emergence and integration of regional grain markets in China

Overview of Project

China is the world’s largest grain producer and consumer with total output in the region of 440 million tonnes in recent years. Although this represents only a relatively small proportion of domestic trade (3.15% imports and 1.74% exports, respectively), it forms approximately 13-15% of world trade. Changes related to China’s current move from a system of planned production and supply of grains to market reform therefore have important implications for the world grain market.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project aims to analyse the origins and impacts of the development of an integrated national market for grain in China. The project will evaluate: (1) the impact of regional comparative advantage on the emerging grain market; (2) the patterns of growth in grain demand in urban China; (3) regional demand, supply and trading relationships by grain types; (4) the marketing institutions needed to integrate grain markets; and (5) government participation in regulating regional and national markets.

These five factors plus the development of a database will be divided into six subprojects creating a more comprehensive and reliable picture.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1993 - 30 Jun 1997

Partners

University of Adelaide - Australia
Department of Policy - Reform and Law - Department of Policy - Reform and Law - China

Website
Launch Website

Conservation and zone tillage research for dryland farming

Overview of Project

This project was created to address problems associated with growing wheat and maize on an area of about 13 million hectares in the North-West Provinces of China that receives an annual rainfall of less than 600 mm. Excessive cultivation of the relatively poor soils has led to soil degradation and water and wind erosion. Loss of water and organic matter has resulted in low grain yields and a depressed rural economy. The project aims to develop conservation tillage systems - i.e. systems providing optimal crop production while conserving soil, water, energy and other system inputs - to increase the sustainability of agriculture in China. At the same time, Chinese zone-tillage methods will be combined with the controlled-traffic method of tillage to improve the sustainability of Australian cropping systems.

Key Outcomes of Project

The expected benefits to China include an increase in wheat and maize yields and a reduction in erosion potential associated with residue retention. Pilot trials (with manual zone tillage) have indicated a yield increase in wheat of up to 20% from conservation tillage.

An increase in grain yield would provide additional income and, if 50% of farmers adopted the practice and gained a 10% grain-yield increase, annual grain output of the North-Western Provinces would increase by more than 1.5 million tonnes. Experiments on deep tillage and traffic control will indicate the value or otherwise of deep loosening, and the impact of traffic on the persistence of any beneficial loosening effects when using relatively light field equipment.

Benefits to Australia will include a reduction in tillage depth and intensity made possible by the absence of random heavy-wheel traffic. Increased surface soil stability and infiltration rates can be expected when wheels do not travel over the whole field area. There would be reduced runoff, and hence reduced water erosion.

Project Dates

01 Jan 1993 - 31 Dec 1995

Partners

University of Queensland - Australia - China Agricultural University - Eastern (Engineering) Campus - China

Leaders

Dr Jeff Tullberg

Email

jtullb@bigpond.net.au

Phone

07 3378 5249

Website
Launch Website

Management of boron and zinc nutrition for oilseed crops in China

Overview of Project

Overview Objectives

China is the largest producer of oilseed rape - one of the world’s major oilseed crops. Production averages about 6 million tonnes annually (accounting for 27% of world production in 1990) from an area of 5 million hectares. Around 60% is produced as a winter crop in the central and lower Yangtse River valley. However, widespread boron (B) deficiency in the area presents a serious constraint to production.

While Chinese scientists treat crops showing acute signs of deficiency, such as floral abortion, with a B foliar-spray fertiliser, many crops with depressed yield due to B deficiency look normal, and miss being treated.

Plant and soil analysis offer prospects of much more sensitive and reliable diagnosis and prognosis of B deficiency. Likewise, critical evaluation of types of B fertiliser and rates of application should help lift production. Such investigations require special care, however - there is only a narrow margin between B deficiency and B toxicity. A further complication for the management of B nutrition of oilseed rape in China was demonstrated by recent trials at Zhejiang Agricultural University (ZAU), where high-quality cultivars were found to be more sensitive to B deficiency than traditional cultivars.

This project builds on two previous ACIAR projects, one that improved understanding of the management of B fertiliser use and another that bred high- quality oilseed rape germplasm for China. Australian scientists at Murdoch University (MU) and the Waite Institute are expert in micronutrient research, and the project leader has already studied micronutrient requirements for food legume crops in Thailand in earlier ACIAR projects. The Chinese collaborators also have a long record of micronutrient research, as well as close working links with provincial agricultural extension services. A number of exchange visits of scientists will be made between the two countries.

In China, the following four subprojects aim to increase the reliability of prediction of B deficiency in oilseed rape crops and the efficiency of the use of B fertiliser:

  • Development of plant analysis standards for the diagnosis and prediction of B deficiency and toxicity in oilseed rape;
  • Use of genotypic variation in the response of oilseed rape to B to manage B requirements of crops;
  • Determination of the environmental factors affecting the response of oilseed rape to B; and
  • Determination of the incidence and severity of B deficiency in farmers’ oilseed crops by surveys of plant and soil B levels.

Field experiments and surveys in China will be supported by research in Australia. At MU, scientists will undertake glasshouse studies to develop plant analysis standards for field use to diagnose B deficiency and toxicity; and at the Waite Institute, scientists will study oilseed rape cultivar variation in response to B to determine plant traits that can be used for selection of B-efficient cultivars for screening trials in China.

In Australia areas planted to oilseed rape (canola) are increasing rapidly. Although little is known of micronutrient requirements of the crop in Australian soils, nutrient deficiencies, particularly in zinc (Zn), are highly probable. Since Zn deficiency is also common in the calcareous alluvial soils of the middle and lower Yangtse River valley, it is appropriate that the project includes complementary studies on this element. Investigations similar to those for B will be carried out for Zn in both Australia and China, and a survey in southern Australian farmers’ fields will determine the incidence and severity of Zn deficiency in soil and in oilseed rape plants.

Rapeseed oil is the main cooking oil in China and nearly all the country’s oilseed rape production is used domestically. In addition, rapeseed meal is a valuable component of animal feeds. Production will be increased as a result of this project: plant analysis will be used to improve the efficiency of use of B fertilisers in oilseed crops, improved guidelines will be developed for the treatment of B deficiency, and B-efficient cultivars will be identified and used to decrease B fertiliser requirements.

Australia will also benefit from development of expertise in oilseed rape nutrition, and B-efficient genotypes identified in the China program will assist in the development of B-efficient cultivars in Australia. Both countries will benefit from the complementary studies on Zn deficiency in oilseed rape.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1992 - 30 Jun 1997

Partners

Murdoch University - Australia
Zhejiang Agricultural University - China
University of Adelaide - Australia

Leaders

Professor Richard Bell

Email

r.bell@murdoch.edu.au

Phone

08 9360 2370

Website
Launch Website

Use of inhibitors to improve the efficiency of urea as a nitrogen fertilizer

Overview of Project

Overview Objectives Although nitrogen deficiency is a major constraint to increasing the yield of food crops in Asia to feed a growing population, fertiliser nitrogen is used inefficiently, with grain crops often utilising only 20-40% of the nitrogen applied.

A previous ACIAR project (8206) showed that much of the nitrogen applied in urea fertiliser is lost to the atmosphere in the form of ammonia and dinitrogen gases. Because urea is rapidly hydrolysed to ammonia by the enzyme urease in flooded soil, various urease inhibitors have been tried in the field as means of reducing ammonia loss. While these have had mixed success, project 8206 further showed that reducing ammonia loss alone did not reduce total nitrogen loss, because the nitrogen conserved could be nitrified, and then lost by denitrification. Therefore, it is usually necessary to limit both ammonia loss by using a urease inhibitor and nitrification by using a nitrification inhibitor. This combined approach again has given mixed results in the field.

Among urease inhibitors, a naturally occurring one identified by scientists at the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Science (FAAS) has given the most promising results. When used in conjunction with a nitrification inhibitor in a field experiment at Fuzhou, it increased grain yield by 15%, and uptake of nitrogen by the grain by 6%. However, its use in other countries has not been successful.

In the current project aimed at improving the efficiency of fertiliser nitrogen and increasing grain yield, the collaborators plan first to determine the factors controlling the effectiveness of synthetic and naturally occurring inhibitors under field conditions. They will undertake laboratory and field studies to:

  • prepare larger amounts of the naturally occurring inhibitor so that it can be characterised and tested;
  • determine whether there are enzymes other than urease in flooded rice fields that can catalyse the decomposition of urea;
  • determine why the effects of current urease inhibitors are short-lived, and develop slow-release inhibitor systems so that the effectiveness of the inhibitors will be prolonged; and
  • test the influence of combinations of urease and nitrification inhibitors on rice grain yield and nitrogen recovery in the field under temperate and tropical conditions.

Scientists from FAAS and the Department of Biochemistry, University of Queensland (UQ), will study the production and characterisation of the naturally occurring inhibitor. UQ scientists will also study the enzyme urea amidolyase, which occurs in green algae and could account for significant losses of urea fertiliser in flooded rice paddies when algae are blooming. Laboratory work will be done in Australia and China.

Scientists from the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, in collaboration with colleagues from FAAS and the Department of Agriculture (DOA), Thailand, will conduct field studies on factors affecting inhibition of urea hydrolysis and denitrification, and the effect of various combinations of urease and nitrification inhibitors on grain yield and efficiency of fertiliser nitrogen. The field work will be done in China, Thailand and Australia.

During the collaborative research, visiting scientists from FAAS will work at UQ, and visiting scientists from FAAS and DOA will work in the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry for varying periods, testing the inhibitors in both glasshouse and field.

If attempts to use urease and nitrification inhibitors in flooded rice fields are successful, nitrogen use efficiency and grain yield should increase. This would contribute substantially to Asian food supplies. It would also mean that less, expensive fertiliser would be required. Australia will benefit in the same way as the developing countries, although not to the same extent, because the country produces much less rice. Nevertheless, the inhibitors will increase the efficiency of nitrogen applied to other crops such as wheat and sugar cane.

The project will also strengthen the research capabilities of the Australian, as well as the collaborating, scientists. The latter will particularly benefit from the experience of working in the sophisticated CSIRO and University of Queensland laboratories and by working closely with experienced visiting scientists in their own countries.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1990 - On Going

Partners

Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Department of Agriculture - Thailand
University of Queensland - Australia
CSIRO Division of Plant Industry - Australia

Leaders

Dr J.R. Freney

Phone

(02) 6247-4470

Website
Launch Website

Forage development of the red soils south central China

Overview of Project

Although China has made remarkable gains in crop production in the past 20 years, this has been mainly in fertile river delta areas. The extensive hilly and mountainous red-soil areas of southern China have been relatively neglected, and remain a poorly utilised resource occupying a favourable temperature and rainfall environment.

A feasibility study to determine the potential of the red-soil hilly areas was carried out in 1986 by Winrock International, ACIAR and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS). The consortium recommended the establishment of a research and development project aimed at overcoming soil erosion and plant nutrition problems in the denuded forest and grassland areas so that pastures, forages and trees could be established to provide feed for livestock and to conserve soil. Lingling Prefecture in Hunan province was selected as the target area for research because of the extent of its soil erosion and its proximity to livestock markets and the CAAS Red Soil Research Station.

In 1987-89, with AIDAB assistance, scientists from the University of New England (UNE) undertook preliminary work at Lingling with their counterparts at CAAS to develop an understanding of the problems and how to combat them. In the present project – which has been extended in scope to involve Fujian province – scientists from UNE and CAAS are building on the preliminary work in collaboration with colleagues from the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Science (FAAS). The group at UNE has a sustained track record in pasture establishment and development in Australia and Indonesia and expertise in measuring soil erosion.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • study the climate of the red-soil area with a view to predicting forage productivity;
  • investigate establishment techniques for forages and trees; and
  • evaluate the productivity of grass and legume swards, determine the fertilisers required to maintain these swards, and assess their impact on soil and nutrient losses.

The project will help overcome the shortage of feedstuffs in southern China, supplement or replace the high-cost suburban production of livestock, and enlarge the area devoted to fruit, legumes, speciality crops and aquaculture. It will also help enlarge employment opportunities, and reduce income differentials between advanced lowland areas and backward hilly and mountainous areas. Information gained through the analysis of risk of pasture establishment and the modification of methods needed to enhance success will also benefit Australia.

Field studies are being conducted at two sites in Hunan province and one in Fujian province. The inclusion of Fujian province will extend the research into an area with a more maritime climate, where temperate perennial species may be ideally suited. The field studies are being complemented and supported by computer studies at UNE, where interactions between environment and plant growth are being investigated in order to give the results of the study general applicability in the entire red-soil region of southern central China.

Climatic data are being modelled to estimate the risk associated with sowing pastures at various times of the year and the potential productivity and stability of the pasture systems. Sward plots have been established at the three field sites with a number of species and measurements made of biomass production, plant quality and soil and water loss. Experiments have also been established at each site to determine the amounts of nutrients required and the residual effect of fertilisers. Pastures establishment trials have also been initiated. In Fujian province, a set of soil-loss runoff plots is being constructed and these will be planted to the most promising grass/legume/fertiliser combination, with and without trees planted at close intervals on the contour, for soil and nutrient loss studies.

Chinese scientists trained in Australia are supervising the field studies in Hunan province and studies in Fujian are being conducted by staff of FAAS. The Chinese scientists are working closely with their Australian collaborators.

Project Dates

01 Nov 1989 - 30 Jun 1993

Partners

Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China
University of New England - Australia

Leaders

Dr J Scott

Phone

02 6773 2436

Website
Launch Website

Breeding and quality analysis of rapeseed for China

Overview of Project

Rapeseed - China’s most important oilseed crop - had a total production of 6.73 million tonnes in 1987. However, although high-yielding and disease-resistant, the varieties traditionally grown in China produce oil with high levels of erucic acid and a residual meal high in glucosinolates (double-high varieties). In Australia, and elsewhere, plant improvement in recent years has successfully produced double-low varieties (now known as canola). The reduction of the potentially toxic erucic acid and glucosinolates to acceptable levels for human and animal consumption has greatly expanded the potential uses for rapeseed oil and meal. In addition, plant breeders have utilised a cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) system to produce hybrid cultivars of rapeseed.

The plant breeders will evaluate and reselect double-low quality rapeseed lines for China, from material already screened for quality characteristics in Australia. Release of adapted material should follow in the early 1990s. Also, a further cycle of crosses is being made, to ensure double-low quality in hybrid cultivars produced using the Polima CMSsystem. After screening for quality characteristics in Australia, these crosses will be returned to China as F3 lines for evaluation, and the release of material derived from them should continue well into the 1990s.

Quality analysis will proceed in parallel with this work, and the researchers will develop, monitor and support quality analysis of rapeseed in the breeding programs of the collaborating institutions in China. The rapid quantitative method for measurement of glucosinolate content developed in Project 8469 is based on a reflectometer. The present project will implement it in China, and will also assist in the development of an appropriate method for monitoring seed delivered to receival depots. The changeover from high- to low-glucosinolate varieties will make it necessary to separate the seed lots into groups based on their glucosinolate contents.

The test-tape method would be suitable if all seed was either high or low and may be a useful tool for a first evaluation. However, some seed will probably be borderline and will need a quantitative or at least semi-quantitative test. This should be less sophisticated and quicker than the reflectance method and use simpler equipment. Work done in the earlier project should make it easier to develop such an improved test.

At the completion of this project, Chinese scientists should have access to a wide range of double-low germplasm for further selection and evaluation in both hybrid and open pollinated varieties, and further varieties will be released throughout the 1990s. A range of screening methods will also be available for routine use, including reflectometers in the collaborating institutions, with fully trained chemists to operate them.

Ideally extension could be achieved by a combination of the commercial companies who supply oil to the farmers, government extension agencies and non-government organisations.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1988 - 30 Jun 1991

Partners

Pacific Seeds - Australia
Oil Crops Research Institute - China

Website
Launch Website

Interaction of chilling and light in limiting rice production

Overview of Project

Overview Objectives

Chinese scientists consider environmental stress to be the most important constraint on rice yield in South China, where two consecutive crops are grown each year. In the first crop, chilling temperatures cause death or damage of young plants. Late in the second crop they reduce grain weight. And in both crops low light levels caused by prolonged cloud cover during important stages reduce the growth rates. Currently available early-maturing rice varieties could avoid some second-crop damage, but have low yields.

The project will involve collaborative studies with rice research centres in South China to apply Australian-developed rapid methods for measuring chilling tolerance to the identification of promising breeding material. The scientists will also investigate the role of light as a critical interacting factor in chilling stress in rice, and the relations between low solar light and yield.

To analyse plant temperatures and canopy microclimates during natural chilling events in South China, the project will install equipment to measure: temperature and light regimes in seedling nurseries; plant temperatures during natural chilling events after transplanting of the first crop; light environment of flag and canopy leaves post-chilling; and the coincidence of high light intensity and low temperatures in both crops.

The CSIRO members of the team have developed a method of screening for chilling tolerance by chlorophyll fluorescence, which declines progressively during chilling at a rate that correlates inversely with chilling tolerance. The method is quick, can quantify the tolerance, measures living plant tissue non-destructively, and uses relatively low-cost portable equipment. Comparative measurements have established its validity on a wide range of plants, including rice and other grain crops, vegetables and fruits.

Scientists at the Rice Research Institute will continue a field program of selecting for cold tolerance in the second rice crop, which currently involves 565 local and 260 imported varieties. As selection criteria, they use chilling-induced sterility (measured by the proportion of unfilled grains at harvest) and the chilling effect on photosynthesis leading to reduced grain fill (measured by the weight per thousand ‘filled’ grains). Research in Australia will apply the chlorophyll fluorescence method to further screen the Institute selections, together with some from other sources, and will attempt to correlate the results with the chilling responses measured in the field. Preliminary experiments in Canberra suggest good correlation, and these will be extended in detail by comparing fluorescence measurements with soft X-ray analysis of panicle development as well.

The scientists will study both the development of chilling injury and recovery from it, in the absence of light. In addition to the new method, they will use gas exchange measurements and estimates of survival and relative growth rates of survivors. Comparisons between rice cultivars of differing tolerances will establish the time-temperature relations causing damage and the relative importance of the injury and recovery phases.

Other experiments will determine the relative abilities of rice cultivars to chill-harden when grown in a cool environment. Bright sunlight following chilling at night causes additional and severe damage due to photoinhibition. A detailed study of this interaction between chilling and light will begin immediately, with a limited number of genotypes. The scientists will attempt to determine the biochemical basis of photoinhibition, its importance for crop yield and the critical temperatures and light intensities.

Following from that study, they will examine low light intensity as a potential factor limiting rice production in South China. The need to persevere with short varieties which better withstand typhoon damage severely restricts the option to increase light capture by selecting for physical changes in plant structure; moreover, varieties selected to withstand high light intensities after chilling may be poorly adapted to make use of low intensities. However, methods devised for measuring photoinhibition may also provide a basis for selecting plants with enhanced light-capturing capacity.

The project should benefit breeding and selection programs not only for rice but for other chilling-sensitive crops, such as litchis. Results obtained, and the rice cultivars selected, should prove useful in other rice-producing countries."

Project Dates

10 Jul 1986 - 09 Jul 1989

Partners

CSIRO Division of Food Science and Technology - Australia
Rice Research Institute - Guangzhou - China
South China Institute of Botany - China
Australian National University - Australia

Website
Launch Website

Utilisation of entmopathogenic nematodes to control insect pests in China

Overview of Project

Australian entomologists have developed successful techniques for biological control of agricultural insect pests using nematode/bacterial complexes. They now propose to develop these techniques further to suit the facilities, insect pests and wide range of environments in China. Entomopathogenic nematodes have the potential to control a wide range of insect pests, are harmless to other organisms including man, and have no adverse effects on the environment.

The principal aim of the project, initially for major field trials and then for general agricultural use, is to develop methods suited to China for huge-scale production of entomopathogenic nematodes, and their subsequent storage and transport. This has two major aspects: transferring existing techniques to scientists in China; and adapting these further to suit Chinese conditions. Experience elsewhere suggests that practical involvement is necessary for the successful transfer of techniques, which will take place early in the project so that nematodes can be mass-reared for other sections of the program in parallel with research into modified rearing techniques. One important investigation for rearing technology will be to find protein materials suitable for breeding media that are readily and cheaply available in different regions of China (e.g. fish offal in southern China). The very much lower labour costs in China relative to Australia may also influence rearing technology.

In order to provide enough cheap nematodes for routine agricultural use, the project should set up at least one mass-production facility.

Storage and transport of large numbers of nematodes in water suspension is not feasible because of the huge volumes that would be involved. Australian techniques rely on storage and transport with only a thin film of water present on an inert carrier, and it will be necessary to find suitable carriers that are readily and cheaply available in China.

Chinese scientists will seek to locate and identify new strains and species of entomopathogenic nematodes in China and to evaluate their effectiveness against various insect pests. The long-term goal is to find the most effective nematode for each pest; this means choosing one that has not only high infectivity for a particular pest but also suitable temperature and motility characteristics for the specific environment in which the pest occurs.

Since insect pests occupy a variety of niches (for example, in soil, within plants or on foliage), it will be necessary to develop differing methods of large-scale nematode application. And in order to ensure persistence of the applied nematode population, the scientists will need to determine the ecological factors - such as temperature and humidity and predators or pathogens - that affect the persistence, migration and infectivity of nematodes in the various habitats. This work may lead to development of strategies for minimising pathogenic effects, such as application of fungicides with the nematodes, or changes in the timing or concentration of applications.

A program of artificial selection is planned, to improve the usefulness of promising species or strains. The very short life cycle of nematodes should make it possible to improve their desirable attributes substantially by this means.

Mass production and inundative release of entomopathogenic nematodes is particularly suitable for biological control in China, because labour is very cheap there whereas chemical control is expensive. Australia will also benefit, because the conduct and evaluation of very large-scale field trials and the incorporation of nematode preparations into normal Chinese agricultural practice will afford experience in handling nematodes on a broad-acre scale. Problems of logistics can thus be identified and overcome without the vast expense this would entail in Australia. Benefits anticipated from the program are: access to an increased range of species and strains; an improved range of nematodes arising from an artificial selection program to be applied to both new and existing isolates; and improved methods of mass-rearing, storage and transport of nematodes."

Project Dates

01 Aug 1985 - 31 Jul 1988

Partners

CSIRO Division of Entomology - Australia
Guangdong Entomological Institute - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Robin Bedding

Email

robinb@ento.csiro.au

Phone

02 6 246 4292

Website
Launch Website

Epidemiology of ephemeral fever in China

Overview of Project

Ephemeral fever, a disease of cattle and buffaloes, has been known in China for at least 30 years, although the virus was not isolated until 1976, when the first of two major epidemics occurred. In the second and much larger epidemic, in 1983, it had a prevalence of 30% and a mortality between 1% and 2%. However, the disease has greater economic and social consequences than the morbidity and mortality figures suggest, as it affects milk production, draught power in agricultural areas, and survival of calves. The losses make it important to predict any potential epidemics and to develop a national vaccination policy for controlling the disease, but neither can be achieved until the epidemiology is understood.

Key Outcomes of Project

This project had three main objectives: first, to develop a highly specific serological test capable of detecting ephemeral fever virus antibodies, which is necessary in order to carry out an epidemiological survey; second, to apply monoclonal antibody techniques to identifying a specific antigenic component as a probe for the virus; third, to study the pathogensis of experimental ephemeral fever infections in buffalo. Project staff will utilise the results of the first two objectives to evaluate and monitor the disease, in order to determine the need and usage of the vaccine.

To meet these objectives, the Elisa test (Enzyme-linked Immuno Absorbent Assay) is the most suitable. This test can be highly specific, can be standardised and is capable of automation, although it requires considerable research development. Its high specificity is important because of the close antigenic relationship of at least four members of this group of rhabdoviruses: bovine ephemeral fever virus and the Berrimah, Kimberley and Adelaide River viruses. Evidence from earlier research in Australia indicates that these last three cause subclinical infections of cattle. However, they produce heterologous antibodies in cattle, which cross-react with ephemeral fever virus. At present, no single test can distinguish between homotypic and heterotypic ephemeral fever antibodies.

Each of the virus strains will be incorporated into Elisa tests, and cross-reactions determined on sera obtained from cattle of known history in China and Australia. The heightened specificity of the test should separate the true from the false-positive result often obtained with other methods, and also allow accurate and rapid test results. Serum containing highly specific antibodies can be used to detect virus in viraemic animals or insect vectors, or establish its absence from semen used for artificial insemination, thus replacing the costly and inefficient virus isolation procedures in current use.

To increase the level of selected antigens, the project will include improved growth studies of ephemeral fever virus in tissue cultures. Parallel studies will involve a strain of ephemeral fever virus of Chinese origin and one of Australian origin for use in the respective countries.

A serum bank will be developed in China, at Harbin, in two phases. The first should be a planned initial survey that obtains sera from cattle and buffaloes in provinces where the disease occurs. In the second phase, sentinel groups of cattle and buffaloes on State farms in selected locations will be bled periodically for testing.

No world standard test exists at present for the diagnosis of ephemeral fever. The virus neutralisation test has an inherent variability that prevents standardisation. If successful, an Elisa test may provide the necessary standard. It should be applicable wherever ephemeral fever occurs, in countries throughout Asia and Africa as well as Australia.

Project Dates

01 Jul 1985 - 30 Jun 1988

Partners

CSIRO Division of Animal Health - Australia
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Website
Launch Website