Securing food, water and the environment

Action is required to secure our future on a planet that is facing environmental pressures and needs to support nine billion people.

As the world's population grows, land and water management policy and practice have a direct impact on our capacity to secure our food, water and the environment. At La Trobe we will use our world-class facilities and expertise in agricultural biotechnology, ecological science and water policy to help address the challenges.

Our work will help protect primary producers, resources and the environment for the future.

A new hub for agricultural bioscience

We are home to AgriBio, the Centre for AgriBioscience, a A$288 million joint venture with the Victorian Government's Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Opened in 2013, the Centre for AgriBioscience is one of the largest agricultural research hubs in Australia. It includes hightech laboratories, a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer and multiple mass spectrometers and controlled environment rooms for plant and pest research.

Making the most of phosphate

Up to 90% of phosphate fertiliser put on the land is washed off. As part of the Research Centre of Excellence, Plant Energy Biology, Prof Jim Whelan is working on plant engineering to make plants grow better with less phosphate, and to use the phosphate that is applied more efficiently.

Soil Carbon storage

Dr Clayton Butterly and Professor Caixan Tang are assessing the potential to increase carbon under a variety of different agricultural management practices. Traditionally, considerable amounts of soil carbon were lost through tillage; when the ground is disturbed by the carbon can be lost to the atmosphere. This research will lead to enhanced productivity and sustainable land use under a changing climate.

Bushfire study

One of the largest studies ever into the impact of bushfires on Australia's landscape and native wildlife was shortlisted for the 'Oscars' of Australian science - the 2014 Eureka Prizes. Jointly headed by Professor Michael Clarke from La Trobe University and Professor Andrew Bennett from Deakin University, it involved a team of 12 researchers over six years. Their pioneering work detailed changes in Mallee vegetation and wildlife and the lasting effects of fire on biodiversity over more than a century. Covering more than 100,000 square kilometres of Murray Valley Mallee landscape in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, it is also one of the largest fire ecology studies anywhere in the world.

Video interview: Securing food, water and the environment

Staff only: Find out more about Securing Food, Water and the Environment [restricted access].