Murdoch agriculture innovators win government awards

March 8, 2018

Dr Sofie De Meyer (left) and Maddison Corlett

Agriculture innovators: Dr Sofie De Meyer (left) and Maddison Corlett were presented with their awards in Canberra

Murdoch University agriculture entrepreneur Dr Sofie De Meyer and PhD student Maddison Corlett have each won 2018 Science and Innovation Awards from the Australian Government.

Each worth $22,000, Dr De Meyer will use the grant to expand her root nodule identification business – MALDIID Pty Ltd – into grain legumes.

Ms Corlett will use the funding to investigate whether modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) has a detrimental effect on the taste and tenderness of the lamb we buy from the supermarket.

Dr De Meyer set up her business one year ago to help farmers and institutes improve their legume performance. Legumes supply nutrition and a safe shelter for rhizobia – the bacteria that fix nitrogen – delivering this to plants and enabling them to grow in nitrogen-limited conditions.

“The new technology I invented has proven successful for legume pastures – a source of animal feed – and so now I would like to extend it to important grain legumes including field peas, chickpeas and lentils, so that farmers can maximise their crops,” Dr De Meyer said.

“Crop and animal farmers need to know which type of rhizobia to treat their legumes with, how often and when, to minimise costs and maximise yields.

“The funding will help me to establish a reliable rhizobia identification tool for grain legumes, which will allow for quick and accurate feedback to producers regarding the type of rhizobia in the legume root nodules.”

Dr De Meyer plans to establish a database of the unique protein patterns found in rhizobia and their associated characteristics to help with the identification process. Scientists can explore this information to understand the underlying causes of inefficient nitrogen fixation and then target improvements.

“Currently crop farmers are not able to access information regarding which rhizobia strains are occupying their grain legume root nodules, and they don’t know if their inoculation practices are successful,” she said. “This project should help to remove much of the guesswork.”

Ms Corlett will be working with a consumer taste panel to gather information about whether MAP has an impact on the taste and look of lamb meat.

MAP is designed to keep the meat it holds oxygenated to help it maintain its appealing cherry red colour for as long as possible, Ms Corlett said.

“Previous research has highlighted that MAP packaged beef maintains its cherry red look, but can have a detrimental effect on taste and tenderness. The consumer panel will help us to understand whether something similar is happening with lamb,” said Ms Corlett.

“The meat processing industry has invested heavily in MAP technology so we will be testing whether decreasing the oxygen content within the packaging will improve the taste and tenderness of the meat, while still maintaining the cherry red colour.”

The Science and Innovation Awards are run by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to encourage young scientists, researchers and innovators with original projects that aim to keep Australia’s rural industries sustainable and profitable.

Dr De Meyer and Ms Corlett received their awards, sponsored by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation respectively, at a special ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday.

Print This Post Print This Post

Leave a comment

You can use these tags : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

We read every comment and will make every effort to approve each new comment within one working day. To ensure speedy posting, please keep your comments relevant to the topic of discussion, free of inappropriate language and in-line with the editorial integrity of this newsroom. If not, your comments may not be published.

Thanks for commenting!