Engaged Research and Innovation
Make that Water Work: Improved Efficiencies of water use in irrigated Agriculture
Dr Surya Bhattarai - ROCKHAMPTON
Dr Bhattarai developed a modification of sub-surface drip irrigation, called oxygation, the aeration of irrigation water which reduces water use and can provide yield benefits to growers. CQUniversity is located in the centre of a largely agricultural region. This research leverages off CQUniversity's power of place. Ensuring that research and development underpin an efficient use of our natural resources is one of the moral requirements of a regional university. Water is one of the major limitations for agriculture and many other key Central Queensland industries.
The agricultural industry will if sustainable continue over the very long term to serve local and distant populations with its produce. Close links between CQUniversity and the agricultural and horticultural industry will be critical for the sustainability of the regional population and CQUniversity.
As part of the research project, Dr Bhattarai built and strengthened relationships with agricultural and horticultural communities and industries throughout Queensland and is now expanding into other states. The community trials carried out expanded the range of potential adopters of the technology, allowed for direct feedback and focal points for the extension of ideas to other potential beneficiaries. The trials have also involved CQUniversity undergraduate students, through support by industry vacation scholarships and top-up scholarship support for two PhD students. Dr Bhattarai has held grower workshops to showcase the technology and engaged with students at the Emerald Agricultural College by involving them and their facilities in trials.
Dr Bhattarai has also been engaging with the local housing industry with the idea of using sub-surface drip irrigation with oxygation, to reduce household water use. This is being evaluated at private homes and discussions are ongoing with the building construction industry, lawn and gardening businesses, and irrigation industries to develop water wise lawn irrigation systems 'Smart Lawns' that help to address the declining allocation and increasing cost of water for urban water users.
Discussions are underway with John Deere Irrigation who are keen to link with Dr Bhattarai and CQUniversity with potential for CQU to become their preferred supplier of irrigation research.
Dr Bhattarai's conduct was a credit to the University improving both our reputation and credibility. Several excellent referees were provided commending Dr Bhattarai on his collaborative approach and the positive way he represented CQUniversity.
Research and Promotion of Phytocapping Technique of Landfill Remediation in Australia
Dr Nanjappa Ashwath and Kartik Venkatraman - ROCKHAMPTON
This research project investigates an environmentally friendly, economical landfill capping technique called phytocapping. Modern living results in substantial waste generation. This waste must be appropriately managed to minimise environmental problems such as leachate generation and methane gas emission from the landfills.
Several field trials have been conducted since 2000 in Brisbane, Noosa, Rockhampton, Townsville, Lismore, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, with the view to testing the effectiveness of the phytocapping system. This project attracted $4 million via Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA), ARC Linkage and 20 local councils in Australia. Several scientists from 5 Universities, CSIRO, and environmental consultants are involved in the project.
The results from the trials are extremely positive. This technology offers many environmental and social benefits, and the environmental protection agencies across the nation are considering amending the legislation to accept phytocapping as one of the landfill remediation techniques. Once implemented, phytocapping can save Australians billions of dollars and will revolutionise landfill capping techniques in Australia and potentially worldwide.
CQUniversity Australia has played a pivotal role both in the initiation of Phytocapping and testing for its effectiveness due to its expertise in native plants which are the 'engines' of phytocapping systems. The phytocapping project has put CQUniversity Australia at the national front and is responsible for initiating a change in national legislation on landfill remediation practices. This research project took a collaborative approach and addressed an important environmental problem. It has helped to promote CQUniversity as an innovative contributor to environmental research and has built strong working relationships with government, other universities and the environmental industry.
Dr Mitch Duncan, Dr Comeel Vandelanotte, Dr Pierre Viljoen, Marcus Ellison, Kelly Corry, Anetta Van Itallie, Cindy Hooker, Kylie Connolly- ROCKHAMPTON & GLADSTONE
Manup Gladstone is a novel nutrition and physical activity intervention project designed to improve the health of men aged 35-54 years in the Gladstone community. It has been developed by a highly experienced team of health promotion researchers from CQUniversity Australia, University of Western Sydney, the Australian E-Health Research Centre, and the CSIRO Centre for Human Nutrition and is funded by Queensland Health.
Physical inactivity and poor dietary habits are modifiable lifestyle factors that have largely contributed to the ill health of Australian men by increasing the risk of overweight, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Little is known about how to improve physical activity and diet in men specifically. Hence, the aims of ManUp are to critically review existing literature and use this information to inform new methods of delivering scientifically valid information to men in the Gladstone area. The ManUp project uses mobile phones and internet technology to enable men to receive educational material, motivational physical activity and nutrition information and to encourage men to monitor their physical activity and eating habits on a daily basis with the ultimate goal of improving these habits and their health.
This ManUp project's collaborative approach and knowledge sharing between Queensland Health and CQUniversity researchers and the way it addresses the community-identified need to improve the health of men in the Gladstone region is exemplary of Engaged Research and Innovation. Strong partnerships and working relationships have been formed with the key organisations involved with the potential for future collaboration. CQUniversity facilities have been used by community members as a result of this venture including a Community health summit where 100 community representatives including the Gladstone Mayor and Deputy Mayor meet to discuss strategies for achieving a healthier and more active Gladstone community. This utilisation of University facilities helped to familiarise the local community with the campus and increased the University's profile due to media coverage of the event.
The ManUp project supports the development of a healthy sustainable population, provides the Gladstone male community with the capacity to meet their health goals and local businesses and industry leaders will also benefit from having a healthier male workforce.
Reductions in the prevalence of chronic cardiovascular diseases will then deliver economic benefits to the Gladstone public health system which will, in turn, have a favourable effect on the wider community. By conducting this innovative research, CQUniversity can build on their reputation as one of Australia's truly engaged universities, delivering high quality outcomes that improve the health and well being of both individuals and communities.