The Co-operative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (CRC-HPS) will bring together 42 organisations from Australia and around the world to address the critical barriers to high performance soils. It will look at issues such as salinity, sodicity, acidity and soil structure decline, and will focus on developing solutions that can be adopted across the farming community.
“Biosolids and recycled water are already playing an important role in extending growing seasons and boosting soil nutrients and carbon, but more research and innovation is needed to enable their use in different regions and soil types,” South East Water acting managing director Charlie Littlefair said.
“The breadth of capabilities of the CRC-HPS mean we can now deliver that research, unlock new value in Australian agriculture, and build more productive farming practices.
“We’re looking forward to sharing the results of that research with the broader water industry.”
He said as the only water utility in the CRC-HPS, South East Water would provide scientific expertise and test and development resources to aid research into biosolids and recycled water, by-products of the wastewater treatment process, which are already being used in agriculture for irrigation and fertilizer replacement.
Teams would focus on developing new technologies that could extend the use of these by-products to different soil types, by overcoming challenges such as phosphorus and metals build-up, and increased salinity and sodicity.
He said information from the CRC-HPS projects would be applied across the Australian water sector, enabling utilities to find new applications for biosolids and recycled water, and helping farmers to become more productive.
Soil health had become an increasingly important issue for the farm sector.