THE VICTORIAN city of Horsham, situated in the heart of the grain growing region of the Wimmera is enjoying a growing reputation as a centre for agricultural research and development (R&D), with increasing numbers of international researchers making the move to the area.
The Victorian government's Grains Innovation Park (GIP) has a number of globally renowned projects, such as the Australian Grains Free Air CO2 Enrichment (AGFACE) venture looking at cropping under conditions with high carbon dioxide levels, while Nuseed and BASF both have major grain breeding programs in the region, forming a strong R&D sector that is vital to the city's economy.
Melbourne University masters student Eva Carreras Navarro, from Navarra, a major horticultural region in Spain, is one of the international researchers who has found herself in the Wimmera city.
Ms Carreras, a food science student, came to the region to study under plant vector disease specialist Piotr Trebicki, as part of a study placement at GIP.
"After reading some of Dr Trebicki's published research I became really interested in the work being done in Horsham; so much so that I requested a placement here," she said.
She said she was interested in learning more on how elevated CO2 levels would impact cropping systems, including the pests and diseases that affect the crops.
"The findings from climate research at GIP, have made an important contribution to our collective understanding of how crops, soils and pests and diseases are likely to respond to the elevated CO2 expected in the future and I was excited to add to this work."
Ms Carreras arrived in Horsham in February and has spent the last seven months researching the impacts of elevated carbon dioxide on one of wheat's most economically important pests - cereal aphid (Rhapalosiphum padi).
Specifically she has looked at nitrogen and how different N rates influence wheat physiology and wheat-aphid interaction under elevated CO2.
Dr Trebicki, who is supervising Ms Carreras along with Shu Kee Lam from the University of Melbourne, said her research project had a huge potential to increase understanding about how growers can keep crops free of pests and diseases and how the yield and quality of food products can be maintained or increased into the future.
"Climate change and food security is a global concern," he said.
"It is great to see that young researchers like Eva are willing to move to Horsham, which is a fantastic workplace where they can make a difference."
Ms Carreras' Horsham placement will conclude this week, but she is due to return, this time as an employee.
"I hope to come back and work here in November."