12.8 NEWS

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NEWS




What’s News at BCIA?
Continued from previous page

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (cont.)



Associate Professor Patti’s team has learned that, while there is evidence to suggest that humates can have a significant effect on plant growth under certain circumstances, the result seems to be dependent on a range of different factors which include, the crop itself, source of the humates, soil type, as well as application rate. Consequently, the effect of humates on plant growth is very variable.

Humates seem to have an indirect effect on plant growth, acting through stimulation of a range of soil microbes, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria and beneficial soil fungi. Further work is needed to unravel the web of interactions that are likely to be involved.

Interestingly, the humates themselves are not quickly broken down in the soil, which is consistent with the longevity of the original brown coal deposits. This raises the possibility of using Victorian brown coal as a soil amendment, to boost the carbon content of agricultural soils for improved structure and water-holding capacity.

While brown coal has been used in commercial soil amendments in the past, the effects on soil structure have not yet been extensively studied. Increasing the soil carbon content is likely to improve crop productivity and lift the amount of atmospheric CO2 fixed in the soil. Further work is needed to quantify the potential benefits of using Victorian brown coal in this manner.

Another interesting finding is that coal-derived humates can interact with conventional chemical fertilisers and potentially increase their availability to plants. Preliminary results have shown that the nutrient availability from both nitrogen- and phosphorus-based fertilisers can be improved by blending with brown coal.

Associate Professor Patti currently has two PhD students investigating the mechanisms involved. It is hoped that this research will support the development and optimisation of a range of new fertiliser products.

This project is particularly interesting because it demonstrates the potential for using Victoria’s carbon-rich brown coal resource to improve the productivity of Australia’s carbon-poor farming soils.

Furthermore, improving the efficiency of nitrogen and phosphorus delivery to plants through improved fertiliser formulation is of paramount importance for food security, environmental and economic benefits.

There is significant commercial interest in developing new agricultural products based on Victorian brown coal, both for domestic and export markets. Associate Professor Patti is keen to work with industry to establish validated field trial data for selected coal-derived products.

For further information, contact Tony Patti by emailing
tony.patti@monash.edu or telephone +61 (3) 9905 1620.

COMMUNICATIONS AND STAKEHOLDER RELATIONS

During October, BCIA held a Brown Coal R&D Stakeholder’s Forum in the Latrobe Valley, focussed on the development of an industry-led brown coal R&D agenda for Victoria.

The forum was very well attended and examined and prioritised critical shorter-term research activity, where outcomes can be delivered in a timeframe that will help accelerate the development of new low-emissions brown coal industries over the next five to ten years. See
page 5 for more information.

BCIA is also continuing to hold a number of background briefings for industry representatives, research institutes, parliamentary and local government representatives, media outlets and other significant stakeholders. These briefings enable BCIA to update stakeholders on our progress in securing a sustainable future for Australia’s brown coal resource.

BCIA’s Membership Support Manager, Kirstyn Krausz will be going on maternity leave at the end of the year to have baby number two. We wish Kirstyn all the best and would like to welcome Shae Ford to the team, who will be covering Kirstyn’s maternity leave for 12 months.
During this time Shae can be contacted on
shae.ford@bcinnovation.com.au or phone +61 (3) 9653 9601.

As highlighted in the October edition of Perspectives, BCIA has developed a company page on the social media site; LinkedIn. The new page provides another way for BCIA stakeholders to connect and show their support for investment in brown coal low-emissions technology innovation.

The BCIA LinkedIn company page also provides another channel for sharing information about low-emissions brown coal research and development.

If you already have a LinkedIn profile, you can use the link below to access and ‘follow’ BCIA’s company page on
LinkedIn or you can simply search for ‘Brown Coal Innovation Australia' on the LinkedIn site.

As previously outlined, we have also added a page to our public website which provides links and pdfs of recent news clippings, interviews and articles; which can be found on BCIA's 'News and Events' page under
'BCIA and brown coal low emissions research and innovation in the news'.

We will be progressively adding to the web page as further news announcements are made, so make sure you check the page regularly or ‘follow’ our BCIA LinkedIn company page to keep informed.


To continue reading about this article, go to the previous page of this e-newsletter.



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