Institute’s work impresses industry minister
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade staff were able to present the latest research and engagement projects being conducted in Central Australia during a visit from Minister Nicole Manison last week.
From geological research, mine management, agricultural and horticultural research to biosecurity and disease eradication, and animal production research, the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) in Alice Springs plays a vital role in ensuring the viability and sustainability of important Territory industries.
Overviews and research and program updates were provided by team members to the Minister for Agribusiness and Aquaculture, and Mining and Industry.
Mining team manager, Roberta Ferrari, and Basin Geoscience Manager, Christine Edgoose, said Minister Manison was well informed about their work.
While the Mining team focused on the status of various proposed mines and associated approvals (mainly the Jervois copper mine and the rare-earth mine at Aileron), the Northern Territory Geological Survey team provided an overview of current geological survey work in the southern region of the Territory and an upcoming geophysical survey in the Barkly region.
“The minister asked lots of pertinent questions, showed a lot of existing knowledge of each area and gave positive feedback and encouragement to the staff,” Regional Director Agriculture - Southern, Angus Duguid said.
AZRI is home to an accredited water microbiology laboratory, with lab manager, Cinzia Rovida, outlining the work done at AZRI around testing water supply and sewage samples to measure bacteria levels.
The institute is also the base for sentinel testing for arboviruses and avian viruses using chickens and cattle with Principal Veterinary Officer, Dr Peter Saville, talking about the monthly collection of blood samples from the sentinel cattle herd. These samples are routinely test for viruses transmitted by flying, blood-sucking insects. This recently included Blue Tongue, a serious disease in sheep which can be carried in cattle.
In addition, AZRI has played an important role in national animal and crop disease eradication programs, with recent work on the detection and management of diseases in honey bees in the region highlighted during the minister’s visit.
Research work at AZRI also includes intensive horticultural trials to support the industry in the Central Australian region.
As part of AZRI’s focus on research and development for the cattle industry, studies carried out at the institute and the Old Man Plains Research as part of the rangelands program were also discussed. The team’s work on the Self Herding project was also highlighted for the minister. The program has introduced new techniques for efficient handling of stock and has already been trialled by a cattle producer in the region.
“A bottle of red cordial particularly caught her attention during the visit.
“It is used as a familiarity cue for cattle,” said Pastoral Extension Officer Lakota Taber.
“By spraying cordial around an attraction station, the stock associate the smell with familiarity and rewards such a food treats.
“These cues are then used when cattle are moved to new areas to help them quickly figure out water points in paddocks.”
To find out more about the Arid Zone Research Institute in Central Australia, check out the AZRI information booklet to learn about the services it provides, its history and its purpose.