Tomorrow’s agricultural science leaders: students benefit from mango project

Tony Asis, NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources and Dave Rowlings, Queensland University of Technology (Mango Project)

The More Profit for Nitrogen (MPfN) project provides a valuable opportunity for university students to have a hands on experience in tropical horticultural research. This is critical to producing future science leaders with experience in tropical production systems.

The Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR), has been hosting students in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Charles Darwin University (CDU). The MPfN project currently engages with Raj Pandeya, Benjamin Vickey and Dakshina Yadav.

Raj Pandeya is a PhD student whose project, funded by the MPfN project, is looking at the effect of fertiliser application on mango leaf litter dynamics. The study aims to determine the nitrogen supply, timing and interaction effects of leaf litter decomposition and urea fertiliser on N2O and CO2 emissions in tropical mango growing soils. The study was conducted at Katherine Research Station and Coastal Plains Research Station in Darwin. Currently, Raj is conducting laboratory experiments to evaluate the soil nitrogen mineralisation and availability as influenced by temperature and moisture content using the soil samples from several mango orchards in the NT.

Ben Vickery’s Honours study focuses on understanding carbon dynamics of mango soils in the NT. He aims to examine soil carbon changes between a native vegetation and an agricultural mango orchard. Understanding the effects of land-use change is important for maintaining healthy soil while minimising the effects of climate change. Conversion of forested land for agricultural purposes is responsible for 12-15% of human induced carbon emissions.  From 30 April to 11 May, Ben will collect soil samples from selected mango orchards in the Darwin and Katherine regions of the NT.

Dakshina Yadav is assisting MPfN project staff in the field experiments at Coastal Plains Research Station. Through this work experience, she is gaining knowledge on biosecurity, field work health and safety, material and data collection, methods for processing soil and plant material and ample preparation. It also provides opportunities for her to network with professional and technical staff of the department, attend seminars and meetings while in the workplace.

Getting students to generate rather than just consume knowledge is a way to relink teaching and research. Students are professionals of the future and engaging them in research enables the students to inquire and critically evaluate knowledge and make an original intellectual contribution to the discipline.

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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