Climate research carried out in the Wimmera as part of the AGFACE (Australian Grains Free Air CO2 Enrichment) program continues to motivate scientific inquiry from around the world.
Spanish Food Science student Eva Carreras Navarro is the latest international researcher to find herself in Horsham after she was inspired by research carried out in the region by Agriculture Victoria plant vector-borne disease specialist, Dr Piotr Trebicki.
Ms Carreras, who is studying for a Master’s degree through the University of Melbourne, is currently completing a study placement at Horsham’s Grains Innovation Park (GIP) under the supervision of Dr Trebicki.
“After reading some of Dr Trebicki’s published research I became really interested in the work being done in Horsham; so much so that I requested a placement here,” she said.
“The findings from climate research at GIP, have made an important contribution to our collective understanding of how crops, soils and pests and diseases are likely to respond to evelvated carbon dioxide levels expected in the future and I was excited to add to this work.”
Ms Carreras arrived in Horsham in February and has spent the last seven months researching the impacts of elevated carbon dioxide on one of wheat’s most economically important pests – cereal aphid (Rhapalosiphum padi).
“Specifically, my experiments have sought to understand the effect that different nitrogen application rates have on wheat physiology and wheat-aphid interactions under elevated CO2,” she said.
“The results from my experiments so far look very promising and my focus now will be on collating my research, and hopefully, publishing the findings.”
Dr Tribicki, who is supervising Ms Carreras along with Dr Shu Kee Lam from the University of Melbourne, said her research project had a huge potential to increase understanding about how growers can keep crops free of pests and diseases and how the yield and quality of food products can be maintained or increased into the future.
“Climate change and food security is a global concern,” he said.
“It is great to see that young reserchers like Eva are willing to move to Horsham, which is a great workplace where they can make a difference.”
Ms Carreras’ Horsham placement will conclude this week, but she has enjoyed her time in the Wimmera so much that she hopes that there may be an opportunity to return in the not-too-distant future.
“I am from a small town named Marcilla in the Navarre region in Spain and I have loved every bit of living in Horsham,” she said.
“I have loved the people here – their warmth, support and friendliness; and the nature – spending my weekends hiking in the Grampians, camping in the Little Desert National Park and exploring the local area.
“Working for Agriculture Victoria has also been great – its educated and intelligent staff and the commradere we enjoy, especially at morning tea.
“Once I finish my Masters, I would love to come back to Horsham and to continue working for Dr Trebicki.”