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Media release. Simon Mattsson. 2014 Scholarship winner

Media release. Simon Mattsson. 2014 Scholarship winner

Simon Mattsson, from Marian in Queensland, has been awarded a prestigious Nuffield Scholarship, supported by Sugar Research Australia (SRA).

He received the award at the organisationʼs prestigious National Conference dinner last night (Thursday) at Crown Perth. Simon will study soil health, focussing on both the beneficial and predatory microbial activities that are crucial to sustaining productive soils.

Simon manages his familyʼs north Queensland farm, producing sugar cane, soybeans and chickpeas in rotation, utilising a two metre controlled traffic farming system. He uses a supplementary irrigation system including centre pivot and hard hose irrigators.

The farm has a total production area of 155 hectares, producing approximately 13 thousand tonnes of sugar cane, with soybeans or chickpeas grown on approximately 20 hectares of fallow land. These legumes provide flow-on benefits for the subsequent cane crops, as the soil is the basis of any production system.

Simon has a keen interest in further understanding soil health and the properties that improve the structure and wellbeing of soils in general.

“Iʼd like to focus on soil biology and the balances of fungi and bacteria, as well as the beneficial and predatory-type microbial activities which are crucial to sustaining soil health. My desire is to investigate soil health and the fundamentals that sustain good practices that will provide the basis of a sustainable production system into the future,” Simon explains.

In addition, Simon would like to investigate value adding at the farm gate to make the most of the current rotation of soybeans and chickpeas with the primary crop of sugar cane.

To complete his studies, Simon would like to visit the UK, the USA, Brazil, India and South Africa.

“As the new research, development and extension company for the Australian sugarcane industry, we are proud to continue the tradition of funding a Nuffield scholarship placement,” said Dr Michael OʼShea, General Manager Research Funding Unit, SRA.

“Managing soil health is central to all agricultural production – practices which understand and improve soil quality can deliver on-farm improvements and significant industry value. Simonʼs successful learnings will be applied within his own farming system and then communicated to the whole-of-industry for everyoneʼs benefit,” he concluded.

SRA invests in and manages a portfolio of research, development and extension (RD&E) projects that drive productivity, profitability and sustainability for the Australian sugarcane industry. SRA focuses on national R,D&E priorities and delivering good science at a local level to find better ways of doing things on-farm and at the mill.

Nuffield Australia is an organisation providing opportunities to Australian farmers to travel overseas on an agricultural research scholarship. It is a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel. In March 2014 we will have one group travelling through Canada, United States (California and Washington DC), Mexico, Europe, Brazil and New Zealand, while a second group will tour South Africa, Kenya, Eastern Europe, Europe and USA.

Simon is available for interviews to talk about his planned study.  Mobile: 0417 862 979

A high-resolution photo of Simon is available for download online in the 2014 Nuffield Scholar gallery

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