The AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program invests in RD&E that maximises opportunities and minimises risks for a profitable and sustainable pasture seeds industry with a reputation for reliable supply of quality pasture species.
2021 Scholarship winner
Robert Bell from The Plains, Western Australia, receives a Nuffield Scholarship supported by the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Program.
Through his research, Robert will investigate how subsurface drainage could be utilised to increase environmental nutrient retention and create more efficient farming practices, while sustainably capturing excess water for irrigation.
Robert is general manager of the family owned small seed production and intensive beef cattle grazing operation, M & AJ Bell. The only commercial grass seed producer and the largest small seed supplier in WA, M & AJ Bell also run a beef operation trading between 1,500 and 2,000 cattle per year.
On farm, Robert has commenced his own research trial comprising an eight-hectare trial site with three different trial drain treatments and six surface water bores, and witnessed a tenfold reduction in phosphates leaching into the Geograph Catchment.
“Water is arguably the world’s most precious resource. As such, continuous innovation and implementation of environmentally responsible practices is critical for the agricultural sector maintaining its social license to operate,” Robert said.
“The climatology in the south west corner of Western Australia is rare and presents a great opportunity to fuel an emerging small seeds industry without water waste.
“Through my Nuffield Scholarship, I plan to explore this further and research environmentally conscious, innovative circular economy principles to water management that could be utilised in Western Australia.”
Robert will investigate existing research, water storage infrastructure and subsurface draining sites across Australia, New Zealand, and the United States during his Nuffield Scholarship.
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