Institution of Engineers of Australia National Salinity Prize (Finalist)
Work carried out by Verterra principal, Dr Glenn Dale, was selected as one of five finalists for the inaugural 2002 Institution of Engineers of Australia National Salinity Prize. The Prize was awarded by the then Prime Minister, John Howard, at a function held at Parliament House, Canberra.
The award, created by the Institution of Engineers of Australia and co-sponsored by the Murray Darling Basin Commission and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, offered a prize of $30,000 to recognise the issues associated with salinity in urban and rural Australia. IEAust President, Dr Peter Greenwood, said the award would encourage interest in developing the best workable new technology or other innovation.
Dr Dale’s nomination for the award was based on the integration of work on Saltgrow salt-tolerant clonal eucalypts with groundwater pumping to lower watertables. The integrated system involves lowering high salinity water tables through pumping and irrigation of specially established irrigated timber plantation areas.
The principle innovation in this system is the development of salt tolerant hybrids with desirable timber qualities that can maintain production under saline irrigation. With some groundwater shandied for use on crops and the balance of undiluted water used to irrigate trees, the system allows nil net off-farm export of salt, benefiting downstream water users and aquatic ecosystems, while sustaining agricultural production.
Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Industry (Runner up)
Work carried out by Verterra principal, Dr Glenn Dale, was selected as runner up for the 2004 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Industry. The 2004 Eureka Prizes were awarded at a gala dinner held at Sydney’s Hordern Pavillion.
The $10,000 Eureka Prize for Industry is made to a business, company or corporation which, through innovation or outstanding commitment to research, development or training, has demonstrated a corporate commitment to scientific endeavour consistent with Australia’s national capacity and needs. The winner receives permanent recognition by having a new species named after them through the Australian Museum's Immortals Program.
Dr Dale’s nomination for the prestigious award was based on innovative work developing salt tolerant eucalypt hybrids, and the commitment to research embodied in this development program.
Dr Dale’s work to develop salt-tolerant eucalypt hybrids was part of a long-term research program involving over 100 field trials in collaboration with forestry organisations, local councils and private individuals. This core work initiated additional research programs including a Rural Industries R&D Corporation funded program with CSIRO Land & Water and the Victorian Forest Science Centre, and participation in the Co-operative Research Centre for Plant Based Management of Dryland Salinity. The hybrid trials and associated germplasm also supported a variety of Honours and PhD projects with the University of Melbourne, the University of Tasmania, Murdoch University and the University of Queensland, with Dr Dale being involved as supervisor to some of the students undertaking these projects.
The nomination was supported the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, Mudgee Shire Council and private landowner Wayne Fischer.
The winning award went to Plantic Technologies Pty Ltd, which has achieved one of the most significant advances in packaging technology of the past decade.
Santos Major Contribution Award
Santos Ltd presented the Verterra team with an award in recognition and appreciation for their major contribution towards Stages 1 and 2 of the Fairview Irrigation Project, located north of Injune in Queensland. GLNG (Gladstone Liquid Natural Gas) is a pioneering project to convert coal seam gas (CSG) to liquefied natural gas. The Queensland Government declared GLNG a ‘significant project requiring and Environmental Impact Statement’ to ensure the project was environmentally sound. Brackish water is a by-product of CSG production with potentially significant volumes produced over the project life. Santos engaged Verterra to manage its water and confirm the feasibility of an irrigated plantation option. The challenge for Verterra was to design a plantation solution to cope with initial outflows of approximately 6 megalitres of water per day, increasing to around 24 megalitres per day at peak production.
Santos contracted Verterra’s research service for site evaluation, soil analysis, hydrology, landform, climate, groundwater and vegetation assessment. After exhaustive investigation and modelling, Verterra presented Santos with a feasibility study outlining the basis for water amendment, an irrigation scheduling approach, recommendations on suitable trees, risk analysis / mitigation strategies and a plan for plantation establishment and ongoing asset management. By project end, ultimately up to 2,000,000 trees will have been established over and area of 2,000 ha of irrigated plantation. Approximately 65 gigalitres of CSG water will have been biologically processed over the 10-15 year period.