Global conference showcases drought science

August 29, 2013

The InterDrought-IV Master Class.

World leading research and development capabilities in drought-related agricultural science will be showcased at the InterDrought-IV Conference from September 2 to 6.

Associate Professor Mehmet Cakir from Principle Host Murdoch University said the gathering would bring together specialists from major Australian agricultural institutions as well as 300 guests from over 50 countries, a level of engagement which demonstrated worldwide acceptance of the growing drought threat to agriculture.

“The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) ranks drought as the most common cause of severe food shortages in developing countries. And even in Australia, drought can cost Australian grain producers in excess of $1 billion per year,” Dr Cakir said.

Dr Cakir said WA was an obvious choice for the conference, as the State’s researchers and growers were on the leading-edge of the issue.

He said discussions and presentations would focus on both the genetic and crop management levels, and that there was a great desire to bridge the gap between knowledge in the lab and application at the farming level.

Themes include coping with drought in agriculture, maximising water productivity in dryland and limited irrigation cropping systems, plant productivity under drought, crop adaptation and breeding for water-limited environments.

“We are looking at present issues as well as future challenges and opportunities, which I fully expect will enhance collaborations among participants,” Dr Cakir said.

The conference also features a five-day Master Class, supported by the Crawford Fund and FAO, which will see participants from 12 countries travel to key sites in the State, including the WA No-Till Farmers Association trials site at Cunderdin and DAFWA’s Managed Environment Facility at the Dryland Research Institute near Merredin.

Major speakers include Mark Cooper from DuPont Pioneer, who runs a maize-breeding program in the US cornbelt; Arvind Kumar, from the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines; Neil Turner from The University of Western Australia; and Kazuo Shinozaki from the RIKEN Plant Science Centre in Japan.

The conference will be held at Crown Perth and is co-hosted by Murdoch University, Curtin University, UWA, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and CSIRO Plant Industry Perth.

For more information, go here.

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