A quiet revolution in scientific research unites two cultures 

THE Centre for Carbon, Water and Food is a quiet building.

But the hush inside belies the critical importance of the work that is done here, quietly and calmly, to ensure the future agricultural security of Australia and the world.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard officially opened the centre at the university's Camden campus on March 6, the same day two memorandums of understanding were signed between the University of Sydney and two Chinese agricultural institutions.

The Dean of Agriculture and Environment Professor Mark Adams said the partnership between the university and the Chinese institutions, the Nanjing Agricultural University and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, allowed the scientists of both countries to work on an international scale.

"The future for the centre is to serve as a training hub for both Australian and Chinese students," Dr Adams said.

"We have a very strong relationship with both institutions."

Dr Adams said Australian scientists were now working with Chinese scientists on increasing wheat production in China.

"We have a lot of experience in classing up wheat production," he said.

"China is about to have to switch from small producers growing one acre or 10 acres of crops to large plots of 100 or 1000 acres and get used to managing larger areas of land. There are also efficiency issues.

"We can offer a lot of expertise to China and our students and their students benefit from being involved."

Water use is a challenge both countries face and it is something the scientists at the centre are closely focused on.

"We are hoping to get a better understanding of the relationship between water and the atmosphere and the soil," Dr Adams said.

"It is a big focus for the centre — the hydrological cycle and to understand how much water we are going to have available in the future."

Dr Adams said the relationship with the Chinese education institutions also benefited the Australian students' professional opportunities.

He said students appreciated being able to study at a university that was "fully China-aware" and took advantage of China's increased participation in the global economy.

"Students coming out of high school understand they are living in a different world to the one their parents lived in."

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