Aluminum toxicity causes significant losses in crop yields in Australia and globally. It is estimated that 40% of the world's farm lands are affected by aluminum toxicity. This might not come as a surprise, considering that Aluminum is the most common metal in the earth's crust.
Boron is an soil micronutrient, essential to plant growth. However, too much boron can adversely affects crop yield. It is estimated that 30% of South Australia's agricultural soils have excessive boron levels.
Drought is a tough trait to study. To place it into perspective, there are over 100,000 genes in a wheat plant and over 1000 are activated in repsonse to drought. An international concern, Australian soils are geologically old and degraded through depleted levels of many essential nutrients such as zinc, manganese and copper.
At low temperatures the liquid inside plant cells freezes and forms ice crystals. These can pierce the cell membranes causing tissue damage. The damage can be severe, where one frost can destroy an entire crop.
ACPFG uses a novel hydroponics system for research settings which gives researchers precise control over the amount nutrients delivered to plants.
Phosphate and Zinc
The nutrients Phosphate and Zinc are essential to healthy plant growth and yield. The majority of soils in Australia are deficient in these nutrients, creating a dependence on fertilizer that are costly to produce, to transport, and to apply. ACPFG is investigating ways to make wheat and barley better able to grow in phposphate- and zinc-deficient soils
Salinity is a major abiotic stress affecting crop plants worldwide. In Australia the problem is only going to get worse, with already 51% of Western Australian farms affected in some way by saline soils.