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Are you a young innovator with a BIG idea? (15 August 2017)

The 2018 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture - supported by CRDC - are now open.

The Awards program, announced today by the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, encourages young rural innovators to think big and contribute to the future success of the cotton industry.               

As a sponsor of the Awards program, CRDC supports and rewards young scientists, like 2017 awardee Dr Priscilla Johnston (pictured), for their exploration of concepts and the creation of new knowledge in the pursuit of scientific breakthroughs. 

CRDC is encouraging other young researchers aged 18-35 to apply for a grant valued at up to $22,000 to fund an innovative research project that will benefit Australia's cotton industry.

Priscilla is a chemist in CSIRO’s Manufacturing division, and her grant project focuses on helping cotton growers make the most of available water resources through the introduction of a new ‘smart’ polymer she created for use in agriculture as part of her postdoctoral research.

“This polymer can be sprayed out onto soil to form a barrier that slows down water evaporation and keeps more water in the soil for the plant to use,” says Priscilla.

“It’s been specially designed so that water is also able to pass through it and into the soil. Because of that very special feature, there’s opportunity that we can use it on rain-fed crop systems and surface irrigated crop systems.”

Priscilla’s polymer has already been shown to reduce the rate of water evaporation by up to 77 per cent compared to bare earth. It’s non-toxic and degrades in the soil. But through the Science and Innovation Award, Priscilla will take the project to the next step with trials of the polymer on cotton crops.

Further information and application forms are available from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website. Applications close 5pm, Friday 13 October.