Water is a resource and a source of impact during agricultural and mining activities.
Water is a resource and a source of impact during agricultural and mining activities.

THE THEME of  'water for productive economies' considers water as a resource and a source of impact during agricultural and mining activities.

Key questions include:

  • How can food supplies be maintained to an increasing global population without damaging or denuding existing water supplies?
  • How does increasing climate variability affect food production, and what strains, infrastructure and conditions are required to provide stable food provision?
  • In northern Australia, what barriers and opportunities exist at a technical and social scale to become a source of food and textile provision?
  • In what ways does water and agriculture affect future food security?
  • How can nutrient flows be captured to reduce surplus of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and other critical elements?
  • How can ecological health be balanced with increasing agricultural production?
  • What are the wastewater management challenges from intensive cattle and dairy production?
  • What are the groundwater impacts of mining, and how does this affect surrounding communities and waterways?
  • How does the water demand for coal-fired power generation affect future and water security?
  • What are socially and environmentally acceptable levels of mining waste and discharge into waterways?

UQ RESEARCHERS

Ian Callow (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Great Artesian Basin, water management aspects of mine rehabilitation/closure and the technical, social and political challenges facing mining companies in developing countries.  

Dr Paul Dennis (School of Agriculture and Food Science) Ecological effects of environmental change on agriculture

Dr Greg Keir (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Computer models to describe environmental and man-made systems, with a current focus on examining the linkages between climate, water quantity, water quality, energy use, and carbon emissions on mine sites and surrounding regions.

Emeritus Professor Geoff Lawrence (School of Social Science) Social aspects of the environment and natural resource management in Australia, with a focus on rural and agricultural sustainability

Professor Neil McIntyre (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Integrated modelling of catchments and cumulative impacts; Hydrological processes in the surface and unsaturated zone

Professor Chris Moran (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Mineral and energy development to meet the challenges of demand and supply into the future.

Dr Louise Olsen-Kettle (School of Earth Sciences) Models of hydraulic fracturing in unconventional coal seams which will help assess and potentially reduce the risk to groundwater contamination from fracking in coal seam gas operations

Dr Lucy Reading (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Groundwater and unsaturated zone modelling, soil and groundwater chemistry and environmental regulation of the coal seam gas industry.

Associate Professor Daniel Rodriguez (Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation) Identifying pathways to intensify the production of summer rainfall dominated cropping and mixed grain-cropping systems

Professor Susanne Schmidt (School of Agriculture and Food Sciences) Novel nutrient supply systems to prevent pollution of waterways – harnessing nutrient-rich wastes, biostimulants and sorbers into NextGen fertilisers

Professor Jim Underschultz (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Petroleum hydrodynamics at the Centre for Coal Seam Gas

Dr Sue Vink (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Quantifying the physical (including hydrological), geochemical and biological processes that control the distribution and cycling of elements at the earth’s surface

Dr Sven Arnold (Sustainable Minerals Institute) Groundwater recharge estimation in the Surat Basin and water balance of waste rock facilities 

Professor Graeme Hammer (Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation) Crop ecophysiology and modelling, investigating traits and management systems that have the potential to deliver productivity gains in water-limited production environments.

Professor David Jordan (Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation) Sorghum breeding for drought adaptation

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