Coating seeds in beneficial bacteria earned Lee Hudek the GRDC Award at this week’s Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Dr Hudek is seeking to develop on-seed coating that delivers helpful microbes, such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Putting bacteria in the soil takes time and the results can be patchy so, the Deakin University postdoctoral research associate is trialling seed-coating.
He hopes it will overcome some of the supply chain bottlenecks stopping new bacterial strains getting to farmers and improve the efficiency of existing inoculants.
He said: “It’s a pretty big challenge to ensure microbial inoculants are delivered to farm gate in sufficient viable numbers at the time of sowing, and then to have the positive benefits from the inoculant throughout germination and seedling development.”
His project will focus initially on nitrogen-fixing bacteria in pasture crops and, if it works, the technique could be applied to different legume crops or on other potential plant growth promoting bacteria for wheat and other broadacre cereals.
“Really what we’d like for all crops is just the one-step process on farm for sowing and inoculation, that’s what the on-seed coating of these microbes delivers.”