Young Farming Champion Calum Watt advancing the WA Grains Industry

“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”

CalumW_Photo.jpg Young Farming Champion Calum Watt is kicking big goals in Western Australia as he researches better breeds of barley at Murdoch University in Perth, and a recently announced $25,000 grant from the Council of Grain Grower Organisations Ltd (COGGO) Research Fund will aid his PhD studies aiming to increase barley yield under future predicted temperature increases.

Established in 2000, the purpose of the COGGO Research Fund is to invest in innovative new research and development projects from across the whole supply chain. “The money will essentially go to paying for glasshouse trials and undertaking genetic studies in the lab,” Calum says. “This project, if fully realised, has large economic potential.”

Calum is the first to realise economics plays only one part of the sustainability circle that is agriculture and his research will address a range of issues that must be balanced and managed by farmers.

“Through genetics and breeding we can develop varieties that use fertiliser more efficiently and increase pathogen resistance resulting in less fungicide and insecticide use,” he says. “Plant breeding can also result in greater water use efficiency (more crop per drop) and higher quality produce through biofortification (improving nutritional content).”

It is for reasons such as these that COGGO was attracted to Calum’s work.

“COGGO is privileged to be able to fund these valuable research projects for the advancement and improvement of the Western Australia grains industry”, Mr Rhys Turton, COGGO Chairman, says. “We have a long history of providing catalytic funding for new R&D ideas and have seen many past recipients make a significant impact on returns for Western Australian grain growers.”

Away from university Calum is making a mark on national and international levels presenting at barley conferences in Perth and Latvia this year and attending a statistics workshop in Bangkok. Both these overseas experiences have been funded by a postgraduate research scholarship. He has also been nominated by his university to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur in August.

In 2018 Calum represented agriculture in the Western Australian Young Achievers Awards, reaching the semi-final stages.

“What I realise from events such as these is ultimately how small our industry is yet how much recognition we can achieve,” he says. “It’s a great networking event and it’s really the only type of awards night of this calibre over our way for youth in agriculture.”

Calum’s career will be one to watch as he endeavours to use his research for the greater good.

Calum Watt

“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”

 

Author: Picture You in Agriculture

The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.

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