Eleven new ag award winners to tackle key industry challenges

SUBSCRIBE to our fortnightly e-newsletter to receive more stories like this. Honeybee:  Minister's Award-winner Dr Emily Remnant will use her award bursary to study a species of bacteria that may be able to confer honeybees with immunity from viruses.

A total of $230,000 in grants has been awarded to 11 young scientists and researchers in Australia’s primary production sector at the latest Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The annual awards, announced at the ABARES Outlook conference dinner in March, recognise “big ideas from young rural innovators”.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said he’d been impressed by the diversity of the winning projects, which ranged from investigating magnesium supplementation as a means of increasing growth rates in cattle to exploring the use of the biogas from pig manure as fuel for farm vehicles.

This year, top gong went to Dr Emily Remnant, originally from Wangaratta, Victoria, who received the prestigious Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Award and a total of $22,000 in funding for her project ‘Can we immunise honey bees against virulent viruses?’

“As colony collapses are devastating honeybee populations in other parts of the world, Emily’s research couldn’t come at a more important time to protect populations here in Australia,” Minister Anne Ruston said on presenting the Award.

“This ground-breaking research is vital to our horticulture industries that rely on bee colonies for pollination. Conservative estimates put the value of pollination for Australia's fruit, vegetable and seed production at four to six billion dollars.”

According to Dr Remnant, symbiotic bacteria Wolbachia Pipientis has already been shown to grant resistance against viruses to flies and stop mosquitoes from transmitting dengue fever.

“This bacteria helps other insects fighting viruses but it hasn't been examined in honeybees yet. So I'll test the bacteria in bees and see if it helps them survive damaging viruses,” Dr Remnant told guests at the ABARES Outlook dinner.

“It is innovative because it’s using a natural chemical to prevent the viruses themselves,” she said.

Piglet in a crowd:  this year's Science and Innovation Award-winners will tackle a broad array of projects, from the use of magnesium supplements to boost growth rates in cattle to turning pig poo into biogas to fuel farm vehicles.
Piglet in a crowd: this year's Science and Innovation Award-winners will tackle a broad array of projects, from the use of magnesium supplements to boost growth rates in cattle to turning pig poo into biogas to fuel farm vehicles.
Green Fire Productions, Flickr CC

2017’s Industry Award-winners

Read about the National Science and Innovation Award winners’ projects​.​

Each Science and Innovation Award winner is granted $11,000 in funding over 12 months to undertake a project of their choice pertaining to an emerging scientific issue or innovative activity. The recipient of the Minister’s Award receives an additional $11,000 to undertake an extended research project.

“The annual awards and grant program is designed to support and celebrate young people working or studying in an agriculture, fisheries or forestry-related industry, to encourage industry innovation, and to help advance the careers of future agriculture leaders,” said Minister Joyce.

Already, the Science and Innovation Awards have helped more than 210 young Australians turn their ag-related ideas into realities, showcasing their talents and ingenuity to Australia and the world.

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