- Charles Sturt University announces it will establish Agriculture, Water and Environment (AWE) Institute for research
- The Institute will employ more than 20 new, research-only positions and build on almost $40 million realised this year for Charles Sturt-led research and partnerships in AWE
Charles Sturt University has today announced it will establish the Agriculture, Water and Environment (AWE) Institute.
Along with rural health, cyber security and data science, Charles Sturt’s research in AWE has been targeted for strategic investment, with the University committed to research which has impact across Australia and globally.
The AWE Institute will be opened by January 2022 and is a key plank of this investment which will drive research outcomes that optimise farming systems and enhance the health of freshwater ecosystems.
The AWE Institute will employ more than 20 new, research-only positions and invest in dedicated business development support to enhance the University’s ability to secure funding for research projects.
Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Renée Leon, said research remains one of the University’s highest strategic priorities.
“Research is, and will always be, a vital part of what Charles Sturt University does,” she said.
“We will deliver our research goals - in agriculture, water and the environment, as well as rural health, cyber security and data science - under a bold new strategic vision to be carried out on our regional campuses and in our regional communities.
“Establishing the AWE Institute is an important milestone for Charles Sturt University, one which will prove a cornerstone of the collaboration with our partners on research with impact.”
Charles Sturt University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Michael Friend (pictured), said the AWE Institute will integrate important research projects in the University’s footprint across the Murray-Darling Basin.
“The AWE Institute will build on Charles Sturt University’s existing research strengths in agriculture, water and the environment to generate outcomes which enhance farming systems and freshwater ecosystems in the decades to come,” he said.
“The AWE Institute will centralise not only existing research but also the funding opportunities for future projects so that Charles Sturt University and its partners can produce more impactful research which benefits regional Australia.”
The AWE Institute announcement comes in the wake of another in September that researchers from Charles Sturt will lead the $3.6 million Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub.
The Albury-Wodonga-based Water Hub will support eight new, regionally based positions within the University and will develop solutions to the problems threatening inland Australia’s waterways, including poor water quality and diminishing fish stocks.
That project is the latest in almost $40 million realised this year for Charles Sturt-led research and partnerships in AWE, including:
- The Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga
- The Global Digital Farm - Australia’s first ‘hands-free’ farm – built in collaboration with Food Agility Co-operative Research Centre
- The planned expansion of the AgriSciences Research and Business Park (AgriPark)
The University’s research partnerships with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), NSW Wine Industry Association and others will continue within the AWE Institute.
DPI Director General, Mr Scott Hansen, said the DPI has worked closely with Charles Sturt over the years on important and innovative research projects that have supported the wine and grape, grain and red meat sectors.
“Our collaboration over many years in the various centres has delivered many benefits for primary industries in NSW, including new disease-resistant grapevine selections in cool and warm wine regions, reducing the impact of herbicide resistance, and a range of research on red meat to support producers to gain greater value from their product,” he said.
“The new AWE Institute will see us collaborate to work on some of the most challenging issues for the agriculture sector, such as adapting to changes in climate and focusing on the increasing biosecurity threats we face.
“These challenges are multisectoral and are across all regions, and we have world-class facilities and researchers whose contribution will be key to the success of the new Institute.”
The AWE Institute will operate with a hub-and-spoke model centred at Wagga Wagga, with ongoing and future research projects to be based there and at Albury-Wodonga.
The University’s three research centres presently undertaking AWE research - the Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) and the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (Graham Centre) - will continue to operate until their accreditation ends on 31 December, 2021.
All funded research will continue to be supported from 2022, either within the AWE Institute or elsewhere at the University.