Bacteria helps dryland salinity fight

Monday, 05 July, 2004

Australia's efforts to reverse dryland salinity have received a boost with the development of a granular inoculant that helps wattles establish up to five times faster than normal.

Developed with CSIRO Plant Industry and commercialised by Bio-Care Technology Wattle Grow Granular Inoculant has the potential to dramatically increase the success of native revegetation projects to help address dryland salinity, which costs Australia $270 million every year.

CSIRO Plant Industry's Dr Peter Thrall says by harnessing the naturally occurring nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria, Bradyrhizobium, Wattle Grow helps wattles and adjacent vegetation grow more quickly.

"In natural ecosystems Bradyrhizobium occurs where wattles grow but it is frequently absent in farmland where replanting or reseeding with native vegetation may be taking place," says Dr Thrall.

"Bradyrhizobium grows in a 'symbiotic' or mutually beneficial relationship with wattles where it helps the wattle 'fix' atmospheric nitrogen in the soil - effectively fertilising the wattle and nearby plants."

In field trials across Victoria, Dr Thrall and his team applied Bradyrhizobium to wattle seed to determine the most suitable Bradyrhizobium strains for a range of wattles.

Managing Director of Bio-Care Technology, Gary Bullard, says CSIRO's selection and testing of Bradyrhizobium paved the way for the development of Wattle Grow.

Wattle Grow contains four 'elite' strains of Bradyrhizobium that are effective on a range of wattle species commonly used in revegetation in south east Australia.

"Bio-Care Technology is a leading developer and producer of inoculants for legume crops and pastures," said Bullard.

"We are excited to be involved in this discovery as we think Wattle Grow has the potential to revolutionise land reclamation and management in Australia."

Wattle Grow - available through leading rural merchants - can be mixed into nursery potting media or applied into the sowing furrow with wattle seeds in direct seeding.

This research is done in collaboration with the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research.

Item provided courtesy of CSIRO

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