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Pasture Soil Biology Molecular Assays - Pilot Delivery

Project start date: 15 June 2006
Project end date: 30 June 2007
Publication date: 01 May 2007
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb, Grassfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
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Summary

The purpose of this project is to start delivering DNA assays to pasture scientists to help them study impacts of biological constraints in different pasture management strategies and identify and address any potential sustainability issues.  This included assays being developed by SHP.005 for a range of soilborne pathogens, beneficial organisms and key plant species. The latter to measure root growth. Also included were complementary DNA assays for biological function and community structure being developed by CSIRO Division of Sustainable Ecosystems.  For these developments to deliver benefits to industry, pasture researchers need to be familiar with the assays and plan to incorporate them into experimental programmes.
A prototype training course and manual was developed to introduce the tests and increase awareness of the role of soil biology.
The assays were used to assess treatment effects at EverGraze sites at Albany WA and Wagga Wagga, NSW, and long term MASTER trial also near Wagga Wagga and P X Grazing trial at Hall, ACT.  Significant treatments differences were detected at each site.  This stimulated a positive response from local research groups.  The use of DNA assays to assess root growth was of particular interest; assessing root growth in mixed swards is currently very difficult.
The potential of the technology to support development of better grazing systems was recognised and the efforts to facilitate adoption of the technology needs to continue.

More information

Project manager: Terry Longhurst
Primary researcher: Rural Solutions SA