A vigorous research profile within the School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences benefits the industries it serves. Research is undertaken through key CSU Research Centre's such as the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (an alliance between Charles Sturt University and the NSW Department of Primary Industries); the CSU Institute for Land Water and Society, and the National Wine & Grape Industry Centre.
Farmers are faced with the challenge of remaining profitable in the face of looming environmental problems, increased cost of production and declining returns for agricultural produce. The challenge, in terms of agronomic research, is to investigate management options that can help farmers meet these challenges. The research work is funded by a range of external organisations including, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, the Australian Research Council and The CRC for Plant-Based Management of Dryland Salinity. Research is also conducted in collaboration with other schools in CSU, NSW Agriculture, Department of Primary Industry, Victoria and CSIRO Division of Plant Industry.
Extension research embraces the complexities and social aspects of agriculture and resource management. People doing this research are interested in the big picture of agriculture and rural communities. Problems addressed are in the real world of regional agriculture and its environment rather than a research station or laboratory. Topics and methods examine what farmers and others do in their jobs where data are obtained by talking to people (sometimes using surveys) and observing social phenomena. Communication, information and knowledge sharing or transfer are often the focus of such research. Also important is how people change - what new methods and skills are used and what learning has occurred.
Environmental Horticulture research focuses on management of Australian native woody species and containerised trees. Researchers are studying the influence of environment on the reproductive success of eucalypts. Investigations of the seed production of eucalypt trees occurring in woodlands and those isolated from other individuals of the same species, have been able to assess the influence of cross and self pollination. Important contributions to our knowledge of Acacia germination have also been made by the group.
Environmental Horticulture staff have recently made a breakthrough in the understanding of why eucalypts are so successful at resprouting from the stem and branches after fire, even intense crown fires. This research has received considerable popular, ecological and horticultural media attention, both in Australia and overseas.
The demands for water to ensure that river health and the environment are maintained have resulted in less water being available for irrigation than previously. In meeting this challenge irrigators must reduce the amount of water used per hectare or consider alternative crops which deliver a higher value from the available water.
The CSU Irrigation group is working with irrigation farmers, irrigation companies and other institutions, mainly in southern NSW. Projects aim to improve the sustainability of cropping systems which enhance the social and economic viability of communities while safeguarding the environment.
Pests reduce plant production by up to 30%. Our mission is to minimise the impact of these pests by using traditional and molecular technologies.
The research of our group focuses on reducing the impact of insects and pathogens on plant production through the use of integrated approaches to management. Major research areas include the discovery, production and formulation of biological control agents, synergy of biocontrol agents and phylogenetics and diversity of insects and plant pathogens. Traditional breeding, tissue culture and molecular markers are also being used to address plant disease management and plant improvement. Further targets for improved control of pests are being sought using cellular and molecular strategies.
The team focuses on the major problems confronting the maintenance or improvement of the soil resource. In broad terms we are working on the management of nutrient supply to crops and pastures, management of water use to reduce salinity and acidity, evaluation of acidification of soils and contamination of soils especially with agrochemicals. We have been particularly successful with grant applications and publication.
Research activities in wine science are based in the collaborative National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) and chemistry research activities are based in the School.