SeniorResearchScientist, CSIROPlantIndustry, FloreatPark,WA;Ph:9333 6616;Email:Phil.Ward@csiro.au Research Interests
Myresearch revolves around wateruse byplants:howwateruse is impacted bythe environment;and howitimpacts on the environment.Currentresearch projects include:
Water balance ofconservation farming systems (withDrKenFlower and WANTFA).How doesstubble retention, as partofa conservationfarmingsystem, affectevaporation fromthe soil,infiltration into the soil, deep drainage to groundwater, and crop wateruse efficiency?
Measuring crop rootgrowth in WAsoils (withDrYvette Oliver, CSIRO and Mr David Hall,DAFWA).Western Australian soils pose some significantchallenges forcrop rootgrowth, such assoilcompaction, soilacidity, and transientsalinity. Previous research on overcomingsoilconstraintshas shown inconsistentresults, butactualmeasurements ofrootgrowth and waterand nutrientuptakehave rarelybeen undertaken, so ourcurrentunderstandingofthese effects is limited.
Water repellency and stubble retention (withDr MargaretRoper,CSIRO, and Dr Steve Davies,DAFWA).The theoryofwaterrepellence suggests thatits severityshould increase understubbleretention. However,farmers reportthatsymptoms ofwaterrepellencyare often less severe afteradoptingstubble retention. Can this be explained bypatterns ofsoilwaterdistribution?
In addition to the workdescribed above on agriculturalsystems, Ihave also worked on nativeecosystems,includingBanksia woodland and mallee heath (with ProfHansLambers and DrErikVeneklaas),measuringwateruse atthe ecosystemlevel. Possible Projects
Impactofstubble orientation on evaporation fromthe soilduring early crop growth. One oftheways to improve crop wateruse efficiencyis to reduce waterloss byevaporation fromthe soilsurface. Can stubble retention assistin reducingevaporation, and willthis increase wateruseefficiency?This projectwould involve field workatthe existingtrials (managed byWANTFA)located atCunderdin and Mingenew.Measurements would include evaporation rate and soilwatercontentin some ofthe treatments atthe sites forthe firstfew months ofcrop growth(May-July).
Does pasture cropping reduce the incidence and severity ofwind erosion? One ofthe majorproposed benefits ofpasture croppingon the sandplain areas ofWAis the potentialforthe higherlevels ofgroundcoverto reduce the incidence and severityofwind erosion. However, there iscurrentlyno data to supportthis assertion. In this project, you would take erosion measurements onfarmersites in the Northern wheatbelt. Measurements would be mostsuited to Apriland May, butcould be conducted atanytime.
How does soildisturbance affectwater repellency? Farmers are currentlyexperimentingwith soildisturbance rangingfromminimalto complete soilinversion, and each levelofsoildisturbance hasthe potentialto change the waythatwaterrepellencyis expressed, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Dead roots as potentialwicks. Recentresearch has shown thatin sandysoils, evaporationoversummermightactuallybe higherfromareas where stubble is retained compared with areas wherestubble is removed.This findingis contraryto expectations. Can dead roots actas continuous soilpores, transmittingwaterto the soilsurface? This projectwillinvolveglasshouse research, usingatracerin waterto determine patterns ofwatermovementin pots containingdead wheatplants.
Iamalso happyto discuss otherprojectideas related to soilwaterorplantwateruse.
Research Scientist, CSIRO EcosystemSciences, UnderwoodAve, Floreat
Researchinterests:Mycurrentinterestsrelatetothemanagementofinvasiveplantstakingintoaccountrapidglobalchangedrivers.Ifocusonunderstandingrisksandimpactsassociatedwithinvasivespeciesandaimtoprovideevidencebasedassessmentsforinfluencing adaptationresponses (managementand policy)toglobalchange.My work includesassessing variationintheinvasiveability ofplants,theinteractionoftheseplantswiththeirsurroundingecosystem,potentialdistributionstudiesbasedonmodellingclimaticandecophysiologicalparameters, and understandingthe ongoingeffectiveness ofbiologicalcontrolmethods.
StudentswouldhaveaccesstoasuiteoffacilitiesatUWAandattheCSIROCELSsiteinFloreat,accordingtotheneedsofthechosenproject.ProjectswouldinvolvecollaborationswithJohnScott(www.csiro.au/people/John.K.Scott),HansLambers(www.uwa.edu.au/people/hans.lambers)andMelindaTrudgen.Forfurtherinformation orto propose alternative projectideas, please don’thesitate to getin touch.
Some specific projects forconsideration this comingyearare: