Optimising sorghum yield through agronomic management

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Professor Daniel Rodriguezd.rodriguez@uq.edu.au

The overall aim of this project is to answer How do combinations of hybrid and crop managements positively modify stress environments and yield distributions in early sown sorghum; and how the practice positively influences the cropping system, increases farm profits and reduces risks?

Across Australia’s Northern Grains Region, managing heat stress and dry spells around critical growth stages remain critical to increase farmers yields and reduce the likelihood of un-economical sorghum crops. For the case of heat stress at flowering, the main adaptation strategy farmers have to reduce yield losses, is to avoid the overlap between heat stress events and flowering, by targeting optimum flowering windows. Initial results show that to fit the flowering of sorghum around low risk windows for heat and water stresses, the crop would need to be sown into soil moisture, at soil temperatures lower than the recommended 16°C. Under these conditions, farmers need to achieve rapid and uniform crop establishments, and balance the decision on the likely benefits of reduced stresses around flowering, with the higher risk of early frost damage.

Topics that this PhD project could address include: crop establishment in cold soils; the crop sensitivity to early frost damage; how early sowing changes the frequency of stress environments around flowering, and how these changes impact yields; cropping systems benefits i.e. early crops offer the opportunity of sowing a winter crop after a short summer fallow; the existing genetic diversity and the role of different physiological traits in relation to early planting and stresses also require specific researching.

The successful student will enrol through Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of agriculture, crop physiology, cropping systems and stress physiology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. 

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