More wheat, less water

China and Australia can dramatically boost wheat yields and improve food security by unlocking the genetic potential within the hundreds of wheat varieties grown in the two countries. That’s the promise of the latest collaboration between wheat researchers in the two countries.

Chinese farmers have been growing wheat for at least 4,000 years. Crop yields per hectare are now nearly 10 times higher than in 1960 and China is now the largest wheat producer in the world. But wheat researchers say we can do more.

Continue reading More wheat, less water

How much carbon can we dig in?

Healthy soil for a healthy planet

To rein in global warming, scientists believe it will not be enough to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions: we will also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Soils are an important reservoir for carbon, as they contain nearly double that found in the atmosphere and vegetation combined. Agricultural practices have degraded soil carbon stocks, so there is a large potential for atmospheric carbon to be sequestered in soils.

Continue reading How much carbon can we dig in?

Making wine in a warming world

South Australian winemakers are looking to Europe as the climate—and what drinkers want—is changing.

Grapes don’t ripen the way they used to. As temperatures climb, they are getting sweeter faster.

Winemakers find that by the time the crop achieves the right colour or level of tannins, the grapes contain more sugar. More sugar means heavier, more alcoholic wine. At the same time, drinkers are preferring lighter wines Continue reading Making wine in a warming world

Wheat that’s good for guts

A new kind of wheat high in resistant starch can improve intestinal health

Bowel cancer is the world’s third most common cancer. A diet that includes more resistant starch, a kind of fibre that feeds good bacteria in the large intestine, can make it less common. Resistant starch helps improve gut health and reduces the risk of conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Since 2006, CSIRO scientists have been working in a joint venture with French company Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and the Grains Research and Development Corporation to develop wheat with more resistant starch. Continue reading Wheat that’s good for guts

Improving agriculture, together

A new approach to horticultural spraying could be the result of a collaboration between design students from Kyoto Institute of Technology and Swinburne University in Melbourne.

“Yanmar is a manufacturer of farm machinery, and they asked us to solve a big problem for grape-growers,” says Natsumi Takamatsu, a design student at Kyoto.

“What we developed was a sprayer to mitigate the drift of sprayed agricultural chemicals. Really it was the actual viticulturists when we interviewed them and they were saying things like ‘If only I had something like this.’”

“Australia and Japan enjoy the seasons at opposite times of the year so we can conduct field research in the vineyards all year,” says Yoshiro Ono from Kyoto Institute of Technology.

Harnessing the sun and improving agriculture

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have built a pilot concentrated solar power plant in Yokohama. It uses CSIRO technology now being manufactured by South Australian company Heliostat SA.

“We’re making seven-and-a-half-metre square solar mirrors,” says David Linder-Patton, the CEO of Heliostat SA.

They focus the sun’s energy into a tower receiver that generates heat which can be used in industries such as steel manufacturing, brick processing and mineral refining.

The Mitsubishi plant will test their technology on receivers they have developed and also CSIRO’s suntracking technology and heliostat manufacturing.

“Working with companies the size of Mitsubishi helps us to get to industrial scale a lot quicker than we could do otherwise,” says David.

Protecting our crops—partners in food security

Australia and America are farming nations

The science underpinning modern farming has enabled our farmers to become more efficient, and more profitable.

Take grain for example. American farmers grow over 440 million tonnes of grain each year. Australia produces about 40 million tonnes. Together that’s about one-sixth of global grain production. Good science has contributed to a tripling in grain production over the past half century.

Both nations export to the world. But whenever we store and transport grain the bugs bite. The latest collaborative research between our two nations is changing that.

Continue reading Protecting our crops—partners in food security

US-Australia collaboration: partners in innovation, transforming lives and economies together

Partners in innovation

In 2017 Science in Public produced a series of factsheets for the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, to highlight some of the US-Australia innovations transforming both countries.

You can view the factsheets online by clicking on the links below or by downloading the individual PDF files.

  1. Protecting our crops—partners in food security (Download PDF)
  2. Protecting phones, robots and governments—partners in cybersecurity  (Download PDF)
  3.  From the ocean floor to batteries—partners in energy (Download PDF)
  4. Cars, planes…partners in advanced manufacturing (Download PDF)
  5. Eyes, hearts, bionic spines—partners in new health technologies (Download PDF)
  6. Healthier trucks and clean air underground—partners in mining technologies (Download PDF)

Transforming lives and economies together

Cochlear implant pioneer Professor Graeme Clark with recipient Credit: Cochlear Limited
Cochlear implant pioneer Professor Graeme Clark with recipient. Credit: Cochlear Limited

The United States is the world’s undisputed innovation leader, but Australian ingenuity is helping to meet America’s biggest challenges and improve the lives of its citizens every day.

  • Across America, deaf children are hearing for the first time thanks to a cochlear implant or bionic ear invented and manufactured in Australia.
  • Young women have access to vaccines that prevent cervical cancer, because of the work of Australian medical researchers at the University of Queensland.
  • America’s largest warships use Nulka for missile defence. It’s a little Aussie rocket that pretends it’s a ship.
  • In Pittsburgh, they’re making an ‘ultra-battery’ for storage of renewable energy, developed at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. The technology will also be used in hybrid cars.
  • Texan cotton farmers are growing crops that use less water, less pesticide and produce better cotton, with the help of CSIRO-derived plant varieties.
  • In Nebraska, Cold War technology, adapted by Australian mining company BHP Billiton, is being used to find rare earth mineral deposits from the air.
  • In Hawaii, one of the world’s largest optical telescopes uses an instrument built at ANU to analyze infrared light.
  • And millions of people are connecting to the internet wirelessly, thanks to discoveries by CSIRO astronomer-engineers.

In February 2011, Australia and America’s science leaders met in Washington DC to explore  closer science collaboration.

Science in Public produced a series of factsheets for the Australian Government showcasing some of the successes of past and present US-Australian collaboration in science, and signaling future collaboration.

You can view the factsheets online by clicking on the links below or by downloading the individual PDF files. To download all the factsheets as one PDF click here.

  1. Overview: Innovation today means jobs and prosperity tomorrow. (Download PDF)
  2. Delivering sustainable agriculture and biosecurity. (Download PDF)
  3. Slivers of sun: clean energy and smarter mining. (Download PDF)
  4. Science collaboration improves health. (Download PDF)
  5. Understanding and responding to changing climate. (Download PDF)
  6. Traveling at Mach 5: Defense and materials science in action. (Download PDF)
  7. Searching the southern sky, and unchaining the internet. (Download PDF)
  8. The Australian science and technology system. (Download PDF)