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SDG 15 - Life on Land

CQUniversity is Australia’s largest regional University strategically placed to lead world-class research and teaching in the sustainability of life on land. In particular, the CQUniversity research profile focuses on biology, ecology, toxicology, biosecurity in the conservation of terrestrial, agriculture and marine and freshwater systems.  Expansion of mining and industry in the Central Queensland region and serious environmental concerns associated with the development of Gladstone harbour and salinity in Australia’s second-largest river system (the Fitzroy and related tributaries) has resulted in a substantial increase in the demand for environmental research and training, for which CQUniversity is a key service provider.

Agriculture science research at the Institute for Future Farming Systems Transcript

Research Centres and Facilities

CQUniversity Campuses are well placed to be on the doorstep of important eco-systems. This has resulted in increased research and training output from CQUniversity staff and hands-on experiences for CQUniversity students. CQUniversity has developed targeting research facilities in regions to focus on biology, ecology, toxicology and biosecurity in the conservation of terrestrial, agriculture and marine and freshwater system.

CQUniversity collaborates with many stakeholders to develop partnerships

Farmer, industry and research organisations are combining forces to deliver R&D activities specifically to meet the needs of the growing northern Australian cropping sector.

The Northern Australian Crop Research Centre of Excellence has been formed to bring together researchers from CQUniversity with farm machinery leaders Vanderfield, farmers from the Central Highlands Cotton Growers & Irrigators Association and Grain Producers Australia, and agribusiness expertise from the Central Highlands Development Corporation.

The Hinkler AgTech project is facilitating an expansion in agricultural production and agribusiness profitability by allowing local industry to access the latest Ag-Tech at the early stages of the commercial release as well as provide jobs growth by attracting Ag-Tech to the region. Future-proofing the region’s key agricultural industries through the latest innovative technologies will ensure the region is well-positioned to continue to build on its agricultural heritage for decades to come

CQUniversity’s agricultural research program is a world leader in delivering practical solutions which are bolstering the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the livestock and horticulture sectors. CQUniversity established its flagship Institute for Future Farming Systems (IFFS) to drive the delivery of new agricultural innovations, and provide an environment for practical, skills-based training and research-led teaching delivered by industry experts.

Among its many successes have been the development of the widely adopted hand-held NIRS (near-infrared spectrometry) gun, which assesses the ripeness of fruit, bolstering crop productivity through optimised harvest timing and improved fruit quality.

And in the livestock sector, the research team has developed automated data gathering tools to monitor the condition of individual animals and assist graziers to make more informed production and marketing decisions.

The Institute utilises world-class facilities including the laboratories at the Central Queensland Innovation Research Precinct (CQIRP) and the 3200-hectare Belmont Research Station.

Research Projects and Programs

CQUniversity is well placed to provide hands-on research outcomes to support the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goal 15 - Life on Land.

The following projects and initiatives are samples of the work CQUniversity has conducted in 2019/2020.

Koala Research – CQ is a community funded research program hosted by CQUniversity. The project receives support and/or funding from a variety of stakeholders, research partners, community partners and individuals. The research group has been operating since 1994. It was established to support ongoing research and to initiate new projects on koala biology, habitat requirements and the effect on koala populations of rural, urban and industrial developments in Central Queensland.

Koala Research Projects include:

  • Cortisol Metabolites in the faeces of koalas as a measure of stress
  • Central Queensland Council's Koala Recovery Plans
  • Managing Central Queensland's Clarke Connors Range Koalas
  • Ecology and Management of Central Queensland's Koala Islands
  • Central Queensland's Koala Re-Introduction
  • Koala Mortality Black-Spots on Regional Highways
  • Understanding the Ecology of Over-Abundant Koala Populations

​CQUniversity’s DataMuster is a fast, simple and accurate research tool for automatically monitoring and managing the performance of a herd, right down to the individual animal. DataMuster's Automated Livestock Management Systems (ALMS) are comprised of walk-over-weigh scales, paddock-based auto-drafters and our DataHubs. These micro-computers capture and analyse animal data and transmit it to your web-based DataMuster software account. From your desktop, you can interrogate individual or group performance, and direct the auto-drafter to segregate animals for sale or health treatment.

The Project Pioneer Water Quality Comparative Study was developed by CQUniversity river health expert Dr Nicole Flint who said the data gathered in the trial provided insight into the potential impact that widespread adoption of regenerative grazing methods could have for improving the quality of water entering rivers in Reef catchments.

A CQUniversity researcher has helped shape an Australian low-emissions future – by analysing technology to reduce cows’ burps. As part of the Australian Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap Taskforce, Mr Hazrat assessed the carbon abatement potential of feed and feed supplements, to reduce “enteric emissions” in cattle – that is, methane-producing burps. With Australian beef production forecast to increase by 16 per cent by 2030, Mr Hazrat said achieving carbon neutrality for the sector will rely on effective technological changes.

The Strengthening food security in Fiji project was developed by CQUniversity researchers in Public Health, Agriculture and Nutrition who collaborated on an international project to empower the lives of Fijian women with the potential to strengthen food security, health outcomes and maximise economic impacts.

Research led by CQUniversity’s Dr Sabine Tausz-Posch has outlined four major ways that eCO2 will challenge the way crop production systems adapt to a world that will feature ~40% more CO2 in the atmosphere by 2050 compared to today. CO2 is one of the key resources determining plant growth, but we now know that different species and different varieties respond to elevated levels in very different ways. This has major implications for plant breeders, seed companies, farmers and environmental managers, as there will be uneven changes to the growth cycles of weeds as well as crop species, with flow-on impacts for plant diseases and pest insect populations

Outreach Programs

CQUniversity is passionate about sharing its knowledge with local, national and global communities. The below programs are a sample of programs facilitated in 2019 and 2020 that have supported our work towards the Sustainable Development Goal 15 - Life on Land.

In 2019, CQUniversity Office of Indigenous Engagement Senior Project Coordinator Sam Johnston visited Botswana to share knowledge on how Indigenous People of Australia fight fires with fire and how this has been leading the way in community-based integrated fire management practises.

The conference theme was Fire Management – A key to sustainable livelihoods and Mr Johnston and the rangers presented at the event, highlighting a number of key topics including how Indigenous communities in northern Australia are reigniting the traditional practice of fighting fire with fire, how this approach combined with the latest science and technology is reducing wildfires and building locally-owned carbon businesses and how this technology is being adapted for the southern African landscape in partnership with Government of Botswana and local Indigenous communities.

CQUniversity partnered with Project Pioneer as a research partner which saw Central Queensland University’s (CQUni) Coastal Marine Research Ecosystems Centre contribute to research in the area of measuring sediment run-off from paired properties, to compare the difference between regenerative grazing and traditional grazing methods on sediment and water quality.

The ‘Women in Agri-tech’ project has created and fostered a strong network of female teachers who will become leaders in digital literacy, STEM and entrepreneurship in regional, rural and remote areas. They will be guided by female researchers, professionals and entrepreneurs to develop engaging learning resources which will, in turn, inspire girls in the classroom to realise the opportunities available to them.

Women in Agri-Tech offer a range of programs and events for students and women in agriculture. This includes the Pitch Competition and the free access to twelve learning modules suitable for Year 7-12 students featuring agri-tech tools and systems which were written by the participants of the Women in Agri-Tech Project

RACE - Gippsland will deliver a range of hands-on, interactive, and engaging activities to primary and secondary students focused on raising aspirations in agriculture and building student capacity in STEM, digital technologies, agribusiness, manufacturing and food and fibre concepts.

The Teacher Farm Experience Program (TeacherFX) aims to increase the knowledge and confidence of STEM, digital technology and agriculture educators to allow them to incorporate food and fibre production into their teaching programs. As part of this partnership with Rabobank, CQUniversity has developed innovative and interactive resources for teachers to take back to the classroom and an evaluation framework to determine its success.

The Parasites in the Wild - Citizen Scientist Program saw participants develop a project plan addressing a hypothesis through the scientific method. Participants collected and identified ticks using field and laboratory equipment and easy-to-understand identification keys. Citizen Scientists will be able to get hands-on in the design and construction of laboratory and field equipment, including tick traps.

In partnership with the Fitzroy Basin Association, CQUniversity students gained practical credits towards a range of units by pitching in and using hay and stone to construct a total of six porous check dams, which help prevent soil loss in gullies. These dams encourage sediment to drop out of the water column, enabling debris (including seeds) to be caught, promoting the establishment of vegetation along the gully floor.

CQUniversity's Belmont Research Station is a vital tool for students and researchers at CQUniversity. This station provides hands-on experience and opportunities to trial developments in research and field trials. Day tours are conducted to showcase the work that the Institute of Future Farming is conducting. These tours include demonstrations on the Data Muster system and provide information on the riparian recovery trials and how this is measuring productivity and environmental changes on a series of fenced and unfenced paddocks.

Every year thousands of tonnes of excess nutrients run off the land and out to the reef, reducing its resilience to recover from stress events like rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification and coral bleaching. However, a new project led by the Australian Seaweed Institute (ASI) in partnership with CQUniversity’s Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) will develop new technologies to enable seaweed biofilters to absorb nitrogen that can then be re-used as a bio-fertiliser on land.

Community Engagement

CQUniversity works closely with local communities and stakeholders to provide opportunities to develop skills and understanding of key things impacting our region. Below shows a sample of the community engagement conducted in relation to Sustainable Development Goal 15 - Life on Land.

  • Parasites in the Wild - Citizen Scientist Program - Passionate citizen scientists have joined researchers from CQUniversity to collect and identify ticks using field and laboratory equipment and easy-to-understand identification keys. Citizen Scientists will be able to get hands-on in the design and construction of laboratory and field equipment, including tick traps.
  • Fitzroy Basin Association - Ridgelands Landholder Support - CQUni students were able to gain practical experience by assisting Ridgelands landholders with Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management. Students built dams to prevent soil loss.
  • Community Seagrass Flower Harvest -  Passionate citizen scientists have joined researchers from CQUniversity Australia’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) to collect seagrass flowers in Gladstone Harbour, for the final harvest of the season.
  • Women in AgriTech - The ‘Women in Agri-tech’ project will create and foster a strong network of female teachers who will become leaders in digital literacy, STEM and entrepreneurship in regional, rural and remote areas.
  • TeacherFX (Teacher Farm Experience) - The Teacher Farm Experience Program aims to increase the knowledge and confidence of STEM, digital technology and agriculture educators to allow them to incorporate food and fibre production into their teaching programs.
  • RACE - Gippsland - Raising Aspirations in Careers and Education - Gippsland (RACE - Gippsland) will deliver a range of hands-on, interactive and engaging activities to primary and secondary students focused on building student capacity in STEM, digital technologies, agribusiness, manufacturing and food and fibre concepts.

Partnerships

CQUniversity partners with a number of external stakeholders to achieve common goals in relation to the Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. These partnerships facilitate collaboration to maintain shared land ecosystems.

Education Programs

CQUniversity has a number of paid and free programs for students and community members to access to increase their knowledge on aspects relating to the Sustainable Development Goal 15 - Life on Land. Listed below is a sample of programs available.

Higher Education Degrees

CQUniversity offers a tailored undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Agriculture, this degree will equip you with the agriculture knowledge, critical thinking and problem-solving skills required to play important professional roles in improving the productivity and sustainability of modern agriculture.

CQUniversity also offers both Bachelor of Environmental Science and Bachelor of Science undergraduate degrees whose teachings align closely with the values of SDG 15 - Life on Land.

Integrated within these degrees are multiple avenues for students to learn and practice theory and skills in land ecosystems.  This content includes term-long units of study such as Integrated Land and Water Management and Sustainable Landscapes and can cover focused elements within broader units of study.  The Bachelor of Environmental Science degree includes a major in "Integrated land and water management", reflecting a strong focus on the interrelationship between land use and aquatic systems, and how best to manage them.

Each of the above-mentioned courses provides opportunities for students to complete Work Integrated Learning relevant to the field of study.

CQUniversity also offers certificate course relating to SDG 15: Life on Land, for example, the Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management.

Be Different - Professional Development Platform

Free Agricultural educational programs are available via CQUniversity's professional development platform - Be Different.

Listed below are some of the examples of free workshops available for students, teachers and community members to access to learn more about environmental ecosystems and technology and initiatives available to manage this sustainably.

RACE - Gippsland 

This online resource includes three learning modules:

  • Traceability of Gippsland Produce Module
  • Diving into Dairy Data Module
  • Potato Fries and Food Waste Module

GPS Cows

This online resource provides has been co-designed by the NSW Department of Education and CQUniversity Australia for the NSW Stage 5 Agriculture Syllabus. It incorporates content from the Agriculture and Food Technologies and the Digital Technologies contexts. The course investigates the use of GPS data to improve the management of animal welfare.

There are seven (7) modules in this resource:

  1. Design your own research trial
  2. Collect your own livestock tracking data and create your own paddock boundary files
  3. Cleaning GPS data
  4. Importing data layers in ArcGIS
  5. Paddock utilisation
  6. Elevation
  7. Soil

Women in AgriTech

The CQUniversity ‘Women in Agri-tech’ project will create and foster a strong network of female teachers who will become leaders in digital literacy, STEM and entrepreneurship in regional, rural and remote areas. They will be guided by female researchers, professionals and entrepreneurs to develop engaging learning resources which will, in turn, inspire girls in the classroom to realise the opportunities available to them. Partnering with their teachers, these female students will have the chance to participate in a unique agri-tech accelerator competition to further develop their entrepreneurship skills.

Twelve free learning modules suitable for Year 7-12 students featuring agri-tech tools and systems are now available for download at womeninagri-tech.com. The modules can be used in a range of classroom settings across Australia, from science to mathematics and, of course, agriculture. They were written by the participants of the Women in Agri-Tech Project fosters a strong network of female teachers into becoming leaders in digital literacy, STEM and entrepreneurship in regional, rural and remote areas.

CQUniversity partnered with Resource Consulting Services as a research partner to deliver Project Pioneer. Central Queensland University’s (CQUni) Coastal Marine Research Ecosystems Centre contribute to research in the area of measuring sediment run-off from paired properties, to compare the difference between regenerative grazing and traditional grazing methods on sediment and water quality. The Project aligns with CQUni’s ethos of working with community and industry groups to develop practical solutions to real-world problems. This project has produced tangible evidence obtained by the research and its potential to encourage more landholders to adopt regenerative grazing practices. More than 150 producers are living proof it is possible to improve the ecological health of a property, while also increasing production efficiency and boosting profitability. This support was provided free for producers who were successful in attaining a grant from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

CQUniversity is a partner of Future Learn. This program provides short courses from around the world for free or low cost. CQUniversity provides 18 courses via this platform, including A Beginner's Guide to Environmental Science: Wicked Problems and Possible Solutions. Students will be learning about the nature of environmental science, resources, the basis of the world’s ecosystem, and the concept of the triple bottom line for sustainability.

CQUniversity has dedicated research staff and academics that work towards educating communities on the importance of agriculture in our regions. One example is Dr Amy Crosby, who currently works with educators, researchers and industry professionals to develop innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of teachers and students in agricultural concepts, tools and systems.

View the Recent Research Projects on Dr Crosby's staff profile to learn more about the many different projects facilitated through CQUniverisyt for students and community members.

Plastic Waste

Drain Buddies

The Drain Buddies project, led by Dr Angela Capper at CQUniversity’s Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC), will modify and install microplastic traps across Rockhampton and Livingstone shires, with monitoring to determine where the littering is occurring.

Clean Up Australia Day

More than 150 CQUniversity staff and students stepped up to collect up to one tonne of rubbish at simultaneous Clean Up Australia Day events across all mainland states. The 13 CQUniversity locations to participate in the event included Adelaide, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay Ooralea and City, Melbourne, Noosa, Perth, Rockhampton, Sydney, and Townsville.

Ditch The Disposables

CQUniversity launched the sustainability campaign Ditch the Disposables during 2019. The campaign aims to educate staff and students throughout CQUni's national footprint about the harmful effects of single-use plastic and encourages them to ultimately ‘ditch the disposables’ because small changes will have a big impact. The University has embarked on a long-term sustainability journey focussing on key areas with the greatest impact demonstrating its commitment to the environment.

Transcript

Policies and Procedures

CQUniversity is guided by policies and procedures in relation to the Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land. Our policies ensure that staff, researchers, students, contractors and all others involved with the university take responsibility on topics such as biosecurity, waste and sustainability.

As outlined in the Procurement and Policy and Procedure, CQUniversity is committed to protecting the environment and doing business with ethical and sustainably responsible suppliers during all stages of the procurement process. Buyers must plan, identify and integrate the practice of sustainability into the procurement of goods and/or services. Preference should be given to environmentally preferable goods and services that have a lower impact on the environment over the life cycle of the good or service when compared with competing goods or services serving the same purpose.

Refer to 4.6 Sustainable, social and Indigenous-focused procurement for more information.

The Sustainability Policy outlines CQUniversity's commitment to supporting and protecting the environment through the adoption and implementation of sustainability practices. The University will create a culture of environmental sustainability that will be reflected in our learning, teaching and research as well as our general business practices. This policy outlines the approach and framework the University will adopt to undertake its business in a more sustainable manner in line with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This policy and Sustainability Framework will focus on four main key principles:

  • environmental sustainability management
  • economic sustainability
  • social wellbeing
  • engaged teaching, learning and research that reflects sustainability practice, where appropriate

CQUniversity's Sustainability Framework outlines the short and long term goals to achieve our Sustainability Goals. These are broken into nine elements with the following elements relating to SDG 15: Life on Land:

  • Research (Page 7)
  • Waste (Page 8)
  • Water (Page 11)
  • Estate and Built Environment (Page 12)
  • Biodiversity (Page 14)

This Code establishes the framework for managing CQUniversity’s responsibilities to conduct research ethically, responsibly, with integrity, and in compliance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. The Code of Conduct for Research outlines the importance of respect for the environment and the community.

The Contract Management Policy and Procedure policy outlines the necessary requirements all contractors need to abide by, including that local biodiversity is included in planning and development.

Clause 4.10 outlines the commitment to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 where both the contractor and the contract manager have certain responsibilities in relation to work health and safety and, depending on the type of project, environmental protection.

This procedure has been developed to provide a safe system of work incorporating a risk management approach to ensure that potential risks to health, safety and the environment are identified, assessed and controlled, allowing contractors to work safely while on CQUniversity worksites.

Outlined in clause 3.5 - 3.12 is the environmental protection information which includes information on pollution, sustainable land management and procedures to prevent any potential incidents towards the environment.

The purpose of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is to provide a forum for addressing biosafety issues across the University. It also has a duty to protect students and staff of the University, as well as the Australian people and environment, by establishing procedures to minimise risk due to the release of any harmful organism into the environment.

The (IBC) has the specific responsibility to consider and advise on the following types of activity within research and teaching programs:

  • The use of potentially infectious agents in laboratories (under Australian Standard AS/NZS 2243.3 and related professional and regulatory policies).
  • Work with genetically modified organisms (under the Gene Technology Act 2000) and other guidelines provided by the Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR).
  • Activities relating to the safe handling and disposal of imported biological materials (Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources).

The Research Higher Degree Integrity Policy and Procedure defines integrity as it applies to research higher degrees (RHDs). It sets out CQUniversity’s expectations of research candidates to act in a manner that upholds the highest standards of integrity. It also sets out CQUniversity’s responses to and processes for addressing alleged breaches of research integrity by RHD candidates, including those of research misconduct.

This policy and procedure outline actions required when there are potential breaches to the environment.

The Engaging and Communicating with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or First Nations People Protocol outlines the engagement practises to be followed with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or First Nations People and the acknowledgment and engagement required to work on cultural land.

The Research Involving Humans and or Animals for Ethical Clearance Policy and Procedure outlines the requirements of staff and students when working with animals for research purposes. All projects involving animal subjects shall be conducted in conformity with the NHMRC’s Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific PurposesThis code of conduct also includes information on alien species management.

CQUniversity's Handling and Storage of Hazardous Chemicals and Dangerous Goods Procedure outlines the hazardous material handling requirements for all people bringing hazardous materials onto CQUniversity campuses.