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Making wheat drought-proof A University of Queensland (UQ) PhD candidate has developed a

roots allow plants to access water deep in the soil, even when

cheap and simple technique allowing scientists to better adapt grain

rain is scarce - therefore, the solution lies in increasing the

crops such as wheat to drought conditions, which are predicted

length and number of these roots.

to become more frequent and severe due to climate change.

The method uses a system of clear plastic pots, which

Cecile Richard, from UQ’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture

allows scientists to see through the pot wall and view the

and Food Innovation (QAAFI), said drought tolerance is “a priority

roots. Scientists can then attempt to combine favourable root

for feeding the growing human population”. She explained that

characteristics in new wheat varieties that could improve the plant’s access to water.

© iStockphoto.com/Dimitrije Tanaskovic

“The roots are growing around the wall of the clear pot and it’s possible to measure different characteristics such as the angle and number of roots, based on images captured at 10 days after sowing,” Richard said. “These characteristics reflect the root growth pattern displayed by wheat in the field, which is important for the plant to access water. “We hope to use the clear-pot technique to rapidly discover the genes responsible for these important root characteristics.” Richard said the method is “easy, cheap and rapid”, unlike previous techniques for measuring roots which had been timeconsuming and expensive. It therefore has the potential to speed up selective breeding for drought-tolerant wheat strains and boost global wheat production. The method has been published in the journal Plant Methods.

Roads made of recycled printer toner The City of Sydney is trialling an

EDI, in partnership with cartridge recycling

is derived from crude oil,” Cinerari said.

environmentally friendly asphalt blend -

company Close the Loop. Sergio Cinerari,

“We work closely with Close the Loop,

which uses recycled materials including

Downer’s CEO infrastructure services,

who collect and recycle huge quantities

toner from discarded printer cartridges

explained that the company utilises toner

of toner cartridges for large printer and

- to resurface sections of road across

powder, which contains comparable particles

copier companies. The cartridges are

the city.

to that of asphalt.

then shredded for recycling and the toner

The TonerPave asphalt was developed

“The use of printer toner in the asphalt

by the City’s road contractor, Downer

mix reduces the amount of bitumen, which

powder comes to us to be made into TonerPave at our Rosehill plant.” Andrew Christie, the City’s construction services manager, said the asphalt blend can reduce emissions by 40% compared to conventional asphalt. This is because the mix is “heated at temperatures 20 to 50°C lower than regular asphalt”, he said, meaning it takes less energy to produce. Not only does the asphalt mix reduce the amount of energy which goes into resurfacing 50,000 m2 of City road every year, but it also keeps the printer toner out of landfill. Christie noted, “Landfill sites produce huge amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.” Lord Mayor Clover Moore added, “Around 20,000 tonnes of cartridge waste has been recycled in asphalt across Australia since the initiative began in 2012.”

32 Sustainability Matters - Jun/Jul 2015

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Sustainability Matters Jun/Jul 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Jun/Jul 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...