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methane production by 21 per cent, at a 50 per cent dose. “This opens the door to saying well maybe we can optimise how we grow them,” Prof Lester said. “We just collected that little Montia plant from the side of a stream. If you grew it under particular conditions, then you might have a much bigger impact.” “We now have multiple species that have potential to be used as a feed additive to reduce methane production in livestock and are likely to be suitable for individual farmers to grow and feed, reducing the complexities of supply associated with marine alternatives. “There’s lots of other benefits associated with water quality, erosion control and reduction of nutrients going into waterways. The next step would be to seek funding to assess whether Montia australasica is a safe feed for cattle, research that could take as little as six to 12 months. “It could be something in practice in the next couple of years,” she said. STUDY SHOWS CONDITIONS REQUIRED FOR CHEAPER SOIL CARBON TESTING Researchers from the University of Sydney have found the use of satellite imagery, combined with proximal sensing on the ground, is the best method to reduce the cost of soil organic carbon testing and improve certainty. Soil scientist Dr Mario Fajardo, who led the research, said it is critical to reduce the uncertainty of the measurement itself to create a methodology that is both cheaper and scientifically sound. “For carbon markets to work effectively, we need a soil carbon auditing method that maximises grower profitability and gives purchasers confidence that credits translate to actual carbon sequestration on the ground,” Dr Fajardo said. The research team used three farms managed by the University of Sydney, ranging in area from 70ha to about 2,000ha, to test three methodologies: traditional laboratory-tested soil samples; proximal sensing, which typically involves equipment coming into direct contact with the soil to produce a reading on-site; and a hybrid approach that combined proximal sensing and remote sensing (satellite imagery). At $120 a sample, the laboratory approach was four times the cost of the other two methods, which were both about $30. “In the community there is this idea of just using satellite imagery because it’s almost free, it gives you 100 per cent coverage and you can see the distribution of whatever you are measuring such as where the trees are growing,” Dr Fajardo said. “But it doesn’t give you an exact idea of what’s inside the soil. Soil is very difficult to assess which is why you need to dig a hole and it’s why we’re using proximal sensing as a complement to remote sensing. It’s cheaper and faster than the lab test as you get the results right away.” Dr Fajardo said the team developed a sampling program on the farms, along with an algorithm that combined the proximal and remote sensing data, to provide a level of certainty equivalent to laboratory testing. “It’s also scalable because in Australia you have farms that can be six thousand hectares and can have similar soil types,” Dr Fajardo said. “Sampling strategies depend on the variability of soils. So, the opportunity for Australia is that with these methods you can potentially save a lot of money.” CULTIVATING A CHICKEN MEAT WORKFORCE To meet the needs of a growing population of chicken meat lovers, with the average Australian now consuming 1kg of chicken a week, the new AgriFutures Cultivate Traineeship Program aims to build the poultry workforce one student at a time. AgriFutures has partnered with the chicken meat industry to launch the traineeship, which provides an unparalleled opportunity to launch a career in a thriving sector for people in their early career who are interested in animal welfare, innovation and sustainability. Along with a Cert III in Poultry Production, successful participants will be guaranteed a full-time role in the industry, engage in professional development and mentoring and complete the program alongside a passionate network of peers. Executive General Operations Manager at Inghams, Susy Klein said Inghams were proud to back the initiative. “We are delighted to partner with AgriFutures on this program. It is an important collaboration that provides the industry with a new way of growing our workforce capacity,” Ms Klein said. “There are diverse career options in the chicken meat industry as it has a vastly different structure compared to other agricultural industries. “Chicken companies directly provide farmers with one-day old chicks, feed, veterinary expertise and farm management support, which creates an industry rich in opportunities to progress.” Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia, John Harvey said the Cultivate Program is a unique pathway into the agricultural workforce that aims to catch the attention of those who may not have considered a career in the chicken meat industry before. “With a new focus on strengthening the agricultural workforce, at AgriFutures we recognise that young people have a key part to play as future workers and leaders of the agricultural industry. We need to support them, listen to them and invest in their development,” Mr Harvey said. For more information, log on to www.agrifutures.com.au/cultivate OMBUDSMAN FINDS VICTORIA’S ELECTRIC AND PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLE CHARGES ADMINISTERED UNFAIRLY Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass NEWS Dr Mario Fajardo 6 | POWER EQUIPMENT AUSTRALASIA | NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2023

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