The School of Agriculture and Food Sciences is a varied and influential research group with unique expertise in its core business areas. The School provides a rich collaborative environment for researchers working on innovations and the School is known for its research quality and output and for the translation of research into practice where it can make a difference.

The focus of Agribusiness research within the School is agricultural food value chain innovation (VCI). This uses value chain analysis as a framework for economic, environmental and social development. The research scale extends from examining individual firms within chains, to whole of sector policy.

VCI research adopts a systems based approach. It draws on individual disciplines in diagnosing the performance of value chains and integrates results to develop innovation based solutions. This research is used to look at issues such as food safety and traceability, sustainable and ethical production, linking smallholders and markets, and value chain resilience and competitiveness.

The School has the largest postgraduate group that is involved in VCI in Australia (16 PhDs) and among the largest in the world. These research students are drawn from Australia, Nepal, Kenya, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Africa, UK and Canada.

Undergraduate Bachelor of Agribusiness students also conduct on-course international research projects in their final semester, funded by industry partners. Over 19 years we have conducted 70 projects in 16 countries with more than 300 researchers.

National partnerships include: University of Tasmania, University of Adelaide, Agriculture Western Australia, DEEDI

International partnerships include: University of Kent, UK; University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan; The George Morris Centre, Guelph, Canada; Centre for Agricultural Systems Research and Development, Vietnam; Huazhong Agricultural University, China.

Climate stress induced by both normal climatic conditions and climate change is an important issue facing the livestock industries in Australia and globally.

 Researchers within the School have been engaged in researching the impacts of climatic stress on livestock since 2000, and have attracted in excess of $2.5 million in research funding.
 
The School has developed on-going collaborative linkages with universities and research organisations in Australia (University of Melbourne; CSIRO; Dairy Australia), and the USA (USDA, Universities of Nebraska, Missouri and Arizona).
 
Since the commissioning of this work we have published 20 peer reviewed papers, 6 book chapters and 22 conference papers. Student research has resulted in two PhDs, 3 Masters and 2 honours degrees being awarded. We currently have 1 PhD and 1 honours student working in this research area.
 
The main focus of our work has been to gain an understanding of animal responses to thermal load, and the development of alleviation strategies to overcome climate stress. A major outcome from this work has been the development of a new heat load model for beef cattle and a risk assessment program. Both of these are now essential and compulsory components of the feedlot industries accreditation scheme.
 
Another outcome has been our work on shade allocation for feedlot cattle, the recommendations from which are now being adopted by industry. These studies have led to improvements in the welfare of feedlot cattle especially over the summer months.
 
Our current work, funded by the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, is the development of a heat load model for dairy cows and a risk assessment program for the dairy industry. This project has attracted attention from the USA and NZ and we are currently looking into further research linkages.

The food science research group within the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences is based at the St Lucia campus of UQ. This group has a dynamic research environment and strong links with the food industry and other research providers such as Dairy Innovations Australia, Horticulture Australia, Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation and AusAid.

There are several projects funded under ARC Discovery and ARC-linkage schemes. Thus, the group undertakes fundamental and applied research to promote and develop the growth of innovative products and processes in conjunction with the industry partners.
 
 
The Food Science discipline at UQ is rated the highest in Australia and well above world standard. The group undertakes cutting edge research which includes:
  • examining relationships between molecular level and processing-quality
  • functional foods
  • molecular food microbiology
  • novel product and process developments in order to improve the functional and nutritional quality and shelf-life of the food and food products
 There are more than 40 MPhil and PhDs and a number of research fellows undertaking research at the present moment.
 
The Food Science group has a close associations with the newly formed Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) - a joint initiative between UQ and the Queensland State Government. The academics in the food Science group are of high profile with their involvement in various international journals as editor and editorials boards.

Plant science researchers look at ways to improve production of food, pharmaceuticals and timber; control diseases, pests and noxious weeds, help plants better cope with weather extremes and global warming and design new plants for innovative purposes.

UQ is renowned as one of the premier plant science research, training and education universities in Australia.
 
The University is host to an ARC Centre of Excellence, a Cooperative Research Centre, Australia’s largest industry collaborative research program and spin-off companies in plant biotechnology.
 
Plant science researchers within the School focus on:
  • plant defence mechanisms
  • improving crop yields
  • plant biofactories
  • improving disease resistance
  • biofuels
  • plant nutritional enhancement and signal transduction
 Researchers within the School have undertaken the world’s first field trials of genetically modified pineapples and the world’s first metabolically engineered sugarcane plants that produce high value sugars.

 

There are five core disciplines within soil science:
  • Soil development and classification (pedology)
  • Soil physics and soil/landscape processes
  • Soil biology and ecology
  • Soil chemistry 
  • Soil fertility and nutrient management
Soil scientists study the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of the top few meters of the Earth’s surface to inform and influence a range of topics such as nutrient management, sustainable agricultural production, landscape and river basin management, global biogeochemical cycles and climate change, environmental quality, ecosystem structure and function, waste disposal and management, and urban land use, among many others. Soils are the most diverse ecosystems on Earth and sustain food and fibre production, with 99.7% of human food (expressed as kilojoules) derived from the land. Humankind depends on soil for food, fibre and fuel. Some of the most critical global challenges such as food security, climate change, resource scarcity, and others are addressed through soil science research. 
The University of Queensland is renowned as one of the premier soil science research, training and education universities in Australia.
 
Soil science researchers within the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences largely focus on soil chemistry, biochemistry and fertility in tropical and sub-tropical environments. Individual areas of research include: 
  • Soil fertility and soil-plant interactions
  • Nutrient cycling and nutrient use efficiency
  • Biogeochemical cycling of elements from molecular through landscape scales, including the speciation, behaviour and fate of soil contaminants
  • Soil and landscape degradation and consequent effects on terrestrial ecosystem functioning and agricultural productivity
  • Reclamation of degraded lands
  • Soil organic matter quality and its relationship to terrestrial ecosystem functioning and agricultural productivity
  • Understanding the effects of climate change on soil functioning
  • Characterising soil biological diversity and functioning through phylogenetic marker gene sequencing, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics
 
Read more about the UQ Soil Science group here: http://www.uq.edu.au/agriculture/soil-science

 

 
 
 

Wildlife Science at UQ focuses on the biology and management of wild animals, including their ecology and conservation.

Examples of wildlife research being undertaken include:

  • ecology and conservation such as captive breeding and release of rehabilitated wildlife 
  • welfare and behavioural enrichment in reptiles, wombats and primates 
  • reproductive biology and physiology and assisted breeding and cryobiology across a wide range of species 
  • vertebrate pest management of rodents, wild dogs, deer, pigs, goats, kangaroos

A significant amount of research looks at providing greater knowledge of more effective management of wildlife and the basic biology associated with this. The Wildlife Science Unit actively collaborates with researchers in other schools within the Faculty of Science at UQ such as  Veterinary Science; Geography, Planning and Environmental Management; and Biological Sciences.

Facilities available to wildlife students and researchers include the new Native Wildlife Research and Teaching Facility that currently holds breeding colonies of endangered species.
 
Over the past 3 years, the Wildlife Science Unit has published over 70 peer reviewed international publications and received just over $2 million dollars of research revenue.
 
The research undertaken by the Unit has driven both Federal and State government policy with staff and students presenting at a range of national and international wildlife conferences each year.

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